• Mindfulness: What is it?

    Mindfulness is the kind of AWARENESS that you bring to everyday living. It is learning to control your mind, rather than letting your mind control you – the opposite of living on autopilot. In practice, mindfulness is directing your full attention and focus on one thing. When you recognize that one thing in the moment (what it tastes, feels, sounds, or looks like), you are being mindful. It is a process of OBSERVING, DESCRIBING, and PARTICIPATING without judging. Example – Mindfulness, Non- judgmental: “There is a red rose with a strong scent and two petals that are starting to wilt.” Not mindfulness, judgmental: “Wow that is the most amazing smelling rose. But it sure isn’t the prettiest, because the petals are ugly.”

    WHO can do it?


    ANYONE can practice mindfulness. It is a great way to learn to focus and pay attention. Living in our fast- paced world with internet, computer games, and cell phones, we often forget to notice how natural life really works. We feel like we don’t have time to “stop and smell the roses.” We do. We just need to take the time.

    WHEN and WHERE can you do it?


    You can do this anywhere, at anytime. It can be planned or spontaneous. You can do a five-minute practice in the morning to help start your day – in your bedroom, on the porch, or in the car. You practice when you are eating. You can practice when you are standing in line or on hold on the phone. You can practice to help relax and calm down. ANYTIME is the right time.

    HOW can you do it?


    There are many different ways you can practice mindfulness. The goals are the same, no matter which method you use. If you want to focus your attention on your breathing, you could focus on the rise and fall of your CHEST, the feel of the air coming in and out of your LUNGS, or counting each BREATH. But only choose one. This sounds easy, but can be challenging because our mind is so used to wandering from one thought to a thousand others. That is okay. Just notice that your mind is wandering and REFOCUS to what you were focusing on. The practice and process is to catch your mind wandering and gently, gently, gently bring it back. That is mindfulness! If you start judging yourself, let it go, forgive yourself, and continue focusing again.

    WHY do we do it?


    Mindfulness helps us to experience instead of avoiding, suppressing, or not noticing. Experiencing life as it is – learning to accept things without trying to STOP or CONTROL things. Mindfulness helps us to learn to feel emotions without HARMING others or ourselves. Maybe you find out that the person who annoyed or upset you woke up with a headache or just heard bad news. You could use mindfulness to be more EMPATHETIC of how your thoughts to into unrealistic expectations of yourself and others. By noticing the “shoulds” and other restrictions we place on ourselves (“We are best friends. We SHOULD always get along.”) In the end, mindfulness helps us to use our “wise mind.” This is where your emotions and thoughts work together to make wise choices, instead of acting directly from emotions or only from thoughts. “Wise Mind” has also been called “our true selves,” “our intuition,” and “our centeredness.”

  • Three States of Mind

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    There are three states that our mind goes to when experiencing a situation. Reason mind, sometimes referred to as logic mind, is where we are focused on facts and information. There is no emotion involved. Emotion mind is where we are primarily focused on how we are feeling and experiencing emotions in response to a situation. Wise mind is a balance between reason + emotion mind. This is the most balanced state of mind, where we can consider both facts + emotions when making decisions or responding to a situation.

    Reason Mind

    • Cool, rational, task focused.
    • Ruled by facts, logic, and pragmatics. 
    • Values and feelings are not important.


    Emotion Mind

    • Hot, mood dependent, emotion focused.
    • Ruled by moods, feelings, and urges to do or say things. 
    • Facts, reason, and logic are not important


    Wise Mind

    • The wisdom within each person.
    • Seeing the value of both reason and emotion.
    • Bringing left and right brain together. Middle path thinking.

  • Ideas for Practicing Mindfulness


    • Just notice an experience. Notice it without getting caught in the experience.
    • Experience without reacting or putting words on what you are experiencing.
    • Have a "Teflon Mind": just let things slide off.
    • Control your attention, but not what you think or see. Don't PUSH or REACT strongly. Just allow your thoughts to come and go. Imagine your thoughts like waves in the ocean, coming and going along the shore.


    • This is when you apply words to what you are experiencing. When a feeling or thought arises, or you do something, acknowledge it.
    • Label what you observe. Put a name on your feelings
    • Remember these when you are describing your experiences: describe only what you observe, don't add or subtract from what you observed, don't make interpretations, state the facts.


    • This means: throwing yourself into an activity, becoming one with the activity, losing all sense of self-consciousness, and finding your "flow."
    • Act intuitively in Wise Mind. Do just what is needed in each situation.
    • Be spontaneous. Go with the flow.


    • The opposite of mindlessly. This is NOT multitasking
    • Three reasons to use the one-mindfully skill: you are the most effective when you put your focus on one thing at a time, it allows you to live life to the fullest, and it reduces suffering (you suffer the moment instead of suffering the past, future, and the moment)


    • Judging is when you view something as good, bad, fair, unfair, worthy, ugly, pretty, etc. It's about putting a label on something or
    • someone.
    • The problems with judging: it causes us to ASSUME things that might not be true and causes our EMOTION mind to increase
    • How do you change judging others or ourselves?: Ask yourself "Is this a priority for me?"; notice and pay attention to your own judgmental thoughts, actions and judgmental tone of voice; monitor and count judgments (count them each day)
    • It takes PRACTICE!


    • The goal of mindfulness, or any skills, is being effective.
    • You are going to need to know what your goals are. Make sure they are measurable and attainable. Example: making an A requires studying and sleep
    • Doing what works requires that you know the actual situation and reacting to it, not reacting to what you think should be the situation!
    • Being effective means playing by the rules - even if you don't think they are fair!
    • It means letting go of vengeance and who is right or wrong.
  • How to Practice Mindfulness

    There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. You can practice it within any activity of your choice. You can be mindful while running, eating, playing a game, spending time with friends, driving, or creating art. There are no limits to how you can practice being more mindful and grounded in your life. Mindfulness can help you connect you to the everyday on a deeper level.


    When people think of mindfulness, they often associate it with yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. I am including some links to mindfulness meditations on YouTube below, as well as a link for a 30 day free trial of the Calm app. Even if you think "I am not into that," I suggest just giving it a try!


    For a playlist of mindfulness guided meditations, click here.


    For a 30 day free trial of Calm, click here.

  • Use of information for this site

    This website is intended for information and educational purposes only. No information presented is intended for counseling or treatment. Use of this website does not form a counseling relationship. For more information please contact me at blair@helpwithdbt.com