What is Mindfulness?

“Breathe, just Breathe
Come and rest at my feet.
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to just breathe.”
Contemporary Christian song sung by Jonny Diaz

Everything is changing Album

I spent some years of my management career in the restaurant industry. I learned that everything needs to be done fast. Everything needs to be accomplished while doing something else, and something else, and something else! You don’t survive in that environment without being unbelievably multi-tasking! We women learn to become multi-taskers early on in motherhood. We need to feed the baby while sneaking our own bites of food between that and drawing a bath and even dressing ourselves, especially if you work and parent at the same time! I never really broke out of that mentality, so Mindfulness was a fight for me. What? Do you mean to say that I must do one thing at a time? Surely you jest!

My DBT manual describes Mindfulness this way, “the act of consciously focusing the mind, in the present moment without judgement and without attachment to the moment. A person who is mindful is aware in and of the present moment.”

One of my Docs explained Mindfulness as the base of the DBT tower of coping skills. His analogy described a skyscraper that stays solid with a firm base. With Mindfulness, we must dig deep in order to successfully go up the DBT skills tower. If you are mindful of your emotions and their cause, you can better manage them and live a happier life.

In the beginning, I thought Mindfulness was just meditating, using guidance from programs online or out of books, but now I would say it is best described as “being aware.” There are lots of options to get you started in becoming more aware; walk into a bookstore and you’ll find that books about mindfulness, mindfulness journals and coloring books abound!

Even before I started DBT, I borrowed this little book from the library called, “daily meditations for calming your anxious mind” (non-caps Author) I kept re-checking this book out until I finally gave in and bought my own copy. In this book, I found one of my favorite Mindfulness meditations simply called, “Blowing Wind”. You can do this exercise no matter your mood or state of being. I often use this to quiet my mind when I am trying to fall asleep.

Give it a try, right now as I quote directly from the book when I tell you how it works:
1. Take a comfortable position.
2. Bring mindful attention to your breath, feeling it deeply and completely in your body. Steady your focus and attention by placing attention on your breath for a few moments.
3. Relax and completely let go of trying to change anything or to make anything happen.
4. Now imagine that you are in a beautiful place in nature. Surrounded by beauty, you can feel the wind blowing around you.
5. Let all of your conscious experience – sounds, sensations, thoughts, emotions, everything—become the wind.
6. Feel all of it moving and changing, arriving, moving around and over you, and then going.
7. Notice how the wind takes on different qualities– Soft, strong, harsh gusty, gentle.
8. Relax as the wind blows around you. Let it come and go in all of its forms.
9. You remain here in calmness, abiding.

If you tried this, I hope you ended up feeling more centered. I hope your worries and troubles disintegrated into that blowing wind, even if only for a moment. Did you see the wind? Hear it, feel it? If you had trouble with this, you are not alone. Mindfulness can be difficult; it’s not easy to still the mind from its constant babbling and just focus on right now. Maybe you thought it was silly, you’re too literal for this kind of exercise. Or you never enjoyed pretending when you were a kid, why start now?

This is the type of exercise that gets easier and more effective every time it is practiced, but the difficulty leads some people who practice DBT to skip over Mindfulness altogether because they just don’t “get it.” I have seen this happen many times as new people enter my DBT class. But without mindfulness skills you may have trouble fully grasping the coping skills within the other components of DBT.

So where is God in all this? Part 2 shows you how I found Him!

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