Mindfulness is the core skill of DBT.
It’s the first skill taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) group, and it is the only skill that we return to again and again, reviewing the key concepts of mindfulness between each DBT skill module.
How to be Mindful
Pay attention to the present moment. On purpose. Without judgment.
Sounds simple, right?
It is simple, but it’s not easy. It requires you to buck the pull of our constantly distracted, multi-tasking culture.
You don’t have to meditate to be Mindful
While some people find that a regular meditation practice is helpful, it’s absolutely not required to practice mindfulness.
Mindfulness in DBT is about being present, without judgment, to life’s everyday moments so you can feel calmer, more grounded and more in control of your behavior.
You can practice mindfulness while you are doing just about anything: while you’re cleaning the house, driving or having a conversation with your significant other.
You can also practice mindfulness by intentionally doing things that feel soothing or comforting, like taking a bath mindfully or going for a walk in nature mindfully.
Why is Mindfulness the Core Skill of DBT?
Mindfulness reduces suffering.
And suffering is the result of resisting reality. No one can escape pain in life, but suffering is optional.
We resist reality by constantly thinking about the past or the future.
Ruminating about the past, rehashing conversations in your head and regretting past decisions robs you of experiencing the present moment – which is the only reality there is.
Focusing on the past leads to depression, lethargy and hopelessness.
Spending lots of time thinking about the future – planning, fantasizing and rehearsing conversations in your head – also pulls you away from the present moment.
Focusing on the future leads to leads to anxiety, fear and worry.
And focusing on the past or the future leads to emotional overwhelm. Because now you have to deal with whatever emotions thinking about the past or future brings up in addition to whatever emotions the present brings up. It’s too much.
This doesn’t mean that thinking about the past or future is always a form of resisting reality.
Thinking about the past is important to make sense of your life experiences (and this is so often the work of therapy), to grieve losses and to understand how the past has shaped you.
It’s also important to think about the future at times. We need to be able to plan, to set goals, and to hope for things to get better.
Thinking about the past or future intentionally, for a finite period, helps us.
Mindless, repetitive thinking about the past or future (the kind of thinking that never offers any resolution) hurts us.
To learn more about mindfulness in DBT, click here.
Curious about how mindfulness and DBT can change your life?
Call (415) 310-5142 for a phone consultation.