Mindfulness is a term that is thrown around a lot these days. The short answer to what is mindfulness is this: to be in the moment; to be exactly where you are in the now. It’s about paying attention. Becoming mindful and practicing mindfulness is particularly difficult when caught up in daydreaming about the future or ruminating in past patterns. It can be extremely useful when dealing with emotions (Remember emotions? Those things that none of us get to escape!). Emotions that feel overwhelming are usually negative ones: sadness, loneliness, worthlessness, etc. Here is why mindfulness is important:
- Mindfulness skills can help you focus on one thing at a time: this can help control and soothe overwhelming emotions.
- Mindfulness can help you learn to identify and separate judgmental thoughts from your experiences. This can help moderate overwhelming emotions.
- Practicing mindfulness can help you make healthy decisions about your life based on your rational thoughts and emotions, rather than impulsivity and/or overwhelming emotional experience(s).
As you start developing your mindfulness skills, remember that, as with anything new, it takes time, practice, and perseverance!
Adapted from Mckay, M., Wood, J.C., & Brantley, J. (2007). The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook.