Mindfulness skills are about being in control of your mind rather than letting your mind be in control of you. The two core mindfulness skills include the What and How skills.
- Notice what is happening. Notice thoughts, feelings, and sensations and anything else that is happening. Simply be aware. It’s what you feel, see, taste, touch, and hear without labeling it, reacting to it, or judging it.
Proverbs 4:30–My son, attend to my words: incline thine ear unto my sayings.
- Simply put words to what you have just observed by just sticking to the facts of what has been experienced and without adding interpretations or assumptions.
Matthew 13:13–Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing hear not, neither do they understand.
- Participate fully in the current experience, while letting go of self-consciousness, judgements, or fear. This skill is about throwing ourselves fully into any activity while letting go of fear or self-consciousness.
- Do one thing at a time with full awareness and attention. We are a culture of “multitaskers,” however research teaches us that our brains cannot multitask, but instead our brains rapidly alternate between tasks, which makes us less effective and less efficient. Behaving one-mindfully opens us up to fully experiencing the beauty and joy in life’s smallest moments.
James 5:13–Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.
- Eliminate judgements. This can be a challenge, as we tend to naturally evaluate or label things as, “good,” or, “bad.” You can’t go through life without making judgments; your goal is to catch and replace them with descriptions, so you have more control over your emotions. When you find yourself judging, don’t judge your judging.
James 4:12–There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?
- Do what works. This skill is about ‘doing what works vs. sitting on your hands and wishing things were different. Remember to act effectively we have to first know our goal, and once we have a clear goal you can choose the most effective way to reach that goal.
1 Corinthians 3:10–According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
Activity: Mindfulness of Song (“Here I am Lord,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBg-yDhM2KY&list=PLhLTwjVZDp7EwGq3TLarNSATS4V902xUn&index=3)
Challenge: Practice mindfulness skills, the next time you participate in communion.
We as people often have intense emotions that are difficult to manage, such as anger, shame, depression, or anxiety. Difficulties controlling these emotions often lead to problematic behaviors that affect you and those around you.
Strong emotions make us vulnerable to impulsive behaviors which often result in ineffective solutions. The STOP skill helps to create space between our emotions and actions and allows us more time to contemplate an effective response.
|Do not just react. Freeze! Do not move a muscle! Your emotions may try to make you act without thinking. Stay in control!
|Take a Step Back
|Take a step back from the situation. Let go. Take a deep breath. Do not let your feelings make you act impulsively.
|Notice what is going on inside and outside you. What is the situation? What are your thoughts and feelings? What are others saying or doing?
|Act with awareness. In deciding what to do, consider your thoughts and feelings, the situation, and other people’s thoughts and feelings. Think about your goals. Ask Wise Mind: Which actions will make it better or worse?
Matthew 26:36-39–Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
- In what must have been one of Jesus’ more overwhelming moments (knowing his capture and death was approaching), how did he similarly use the STOP skill?
- What are moments of our own, when we might want to use this skill, or do we perhaps wish we had used this skill? How would things have ended differently if you did you this skill?
When your goal is to clearly express what you want or need, remember, DEAR MAN:
|Describe the situation. Stick to the facts.
“You have gotten home late the last three times you have spent time with your friends.”
|Express your feelings using “I” statements (“I feel . . . ,” “I would like . . .”). Stay away from “you should . . .”
“When you get home late, I feel worried about you.”
|Ask for what you want or say “no” clearly. Remember, the other person cannot read your mind.
“I would like it if you came home on-time or let me know if you are running behind.”
|Reward (reinforce) the person ahead of time by explaining the positive effects of getting what you want.
“It would be easier to trust you with more freedom, if you stuck to the curfew agreement.”
|Keep your focus on what you want, avoiding distractions. Come back to your assertion over and over, like a “broken record.” Ignore attacks.
“I understand that your friends may have different rules in their home, and I would still like you to do your best to get home on-time and call if you will be late.”
|Make (and maintain) eye contact. Use a confident tone of voice—do not whisper, mumble, or give up and say “Whatever.”
Do not mumble under your breath or roll your eyes.
|Be willing to GIVE TO GET. Ask for the other person’s input. Offer alternative solutions to the problem. Know when to “agree to disagree” and walk away.
“If you can do this for the next month, I will feel more comfortable letting you stay out later for prom.”
Source: Linehan, M. (2015). Dbt skills training handouts and worksheets. The Guilford Press.