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03: The “What” Skills of Mindfulness

Would you like to learn to practice mindfulness in the DBT framework? Today, Marielle and Ed will be discussing the three ‘what’ skills of mindfulness. These are called ‘what’ skills because they are what you actually do to practice mindfulness in the DBT framework. These skills are done one at a time. Listen in today, to find out about the three things that we do to practice being in the present moment. 

 In DBT, there are three things we can do to practice being mindful in the moment. The first is to observe, the second is to describe what we are observing, and the third one is to participate. Each of these is a different approach to being in the present moment. In a later episode, we will explain the ‘how’ skills, as these are the companion to the ‘what’ skills because the ‘how’ skills are how you do the ‘what’ skills. Tune in today, to find out about the three different and equally beneficial ways to practice mindfulness, one moment at a time, whenever you can, in your everyday life.

Show Highlights:

  • Marielle explains what observing is all about.
  • Observing is the direct notice of sensory experience.
  • Observing is noticing what you are sensing without labeling it, reacting to it, or judging it. 
  • One of the ‘how’ skills is the ability to be non-judgmental.
  • Ed explains how observing mindfully helps him to pay attention.
  • Why observing can be tricky for most people.
  • Judgments can cause people to want to change an experience or to want to push it away.
  • The many benefits of observing.
  • Being mindful allows us to be present without feeling the pressure to do more.
  • DBT encourages you to practice being mindful for just a second if that’s what you’re able to do.
  • Regular practice makes mindfulness easier.
  • All the mindfulness skills in DBT are about bringing mindfulness and awareness to your everyday life, to help reduce reactivity, increase feelings of aliveness, and be connected to others, and decrease emotional suffering.
  • Marielle leads us in a brief observe skill practice exercise.
  • If your mind wanders just bring it back.
  • The main goals of observing.
  • The describe skill is putting words to what you observe.
  • When you describe, you stick to the facts- just the who, what, when, and where. You leave out your interpretations or your assumptions.
  • Interpretations can lead to assumptions. The describe skill can help you because sticking to the facts can prevent you from becoming anxious or worried.
  • Our interpretations are usually based on our own opinions rather than facts, so our interpretation of a situation can lead us to react to the situation rather than responding to it.
  • Building and honing the describe muscle.
  • Marielle leads us in a brief describe skill practice exercise.
  • Describe can really help when you’re in the throes of intense emotion.
  • Ed describes the participate skills. Some may be easy and work for you and others might not.
  • Ed explains how the participate skill for mindfulness is the opposite of observing and describing.
  • You can use participation to anchor yourself to the present moment.
  • Participation allows us to become fully absorbed in whatever we are doing.
  • Participation can allow you to dance like nobody is watching you.
  • Participation allows you to feel a part ofsomething, rather than feeling apart fromsomething.
  • Participating includes acting intuitively from your wise mind. This means that your actions are in service of your long-term goals.

Links and resources:

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