Are You Mindful or Mind-Full?
A Brief Crash Course in Mindfulness for DBT
Written by: Dr. Julia Brillante, PsyD for the Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy
Often, it may be difficult to focus on the present moment. In this tenuous time, anxious thoughts can distract us from what is currently going on in our lives. We may stress over the past or future, fueled by anxiety and depression, or even regret.
When these thoughts overcome us, it’s challenging to remain focused on the “now.” Mindfulness is an essential practice for anxious times. It helps us maintain a level head and make decisions in our own best interests.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the current moment. It’s about experiencing the “now” free of judgments. It’s allowing ourselves to experience thoughts, people, and circumstances without criticism.
Notice the outside world around you. What information do your senses bring you first? Is it the smell in the air? The sounds around you? The feel of the chilled wind against your cheek? Or is there a taste on your tongue?
Sharpening your external perception helps you focus and stay grounded in the present moment.
Mindfulness is also about honing in on your internal world. Your thoughts, feelings, urges, and judgments are in a constant state of flux within your mind. It’s important to take the time to stop and notice these internal happenings. Notice them and then let them be. Allow yourself to be a curious observer within without trying to change anything.
In therapy, we sometimes make the distinction between
being mindful and mind-full. Mind-full is a state of being where our thoughts and feelings overwhelm us. We may feel as if we are losing control of our own minds.
When we are mindful, or aware, we are focusing on one thing at a time. This could be focusing on an activity, such as playing basketball or washing the dishes. Or, it could be as simple as bringing our awareness to our breath-breathing in and out.
Mindfulness is allowing yourself to exist in the moment by honing in on the present.