We are taking a break from our Growth Mindset Challenge to talk about Mindfulness this week.
In my clinical work with adolescents and young adults, I find mindfulness to be paramount to their success in reducing stress and coping. Mindfulness can be a challenging practice at any age. The first step to incorporating mindfulness practice into your life is to learn what mindfulness is. Marsha Linehan (2015) shared that mindfulness is the process of observing, describing, and participating in reality in a non-judgmental manner, in the moment and with effectiveness.
To break this down a bit further – Mindfulness is “allowing” experiences rather than suppressing or avoiding them. Mindfulness helps you learn to control your mind, instead of letting your mind control you. During mindfulness practice, you direct your attention to only one thing that you are living in the moment.
Summer is a great time to start a mindfulness practice because, as I remind my clients, it means increased enjoyment of summer as you are truly soaking up all summer has to offer instead of summer breezing by you like it normally does. You know the feeling of “Where did summer go?” The great thing about mindfulness is you can practice mindfulness ANYTIME and ANYWHERE. The key is to practice and try just a few moments each day. Start small and be kind to yourself, as it will be challenging especially in the beginning. Think about the first time you rode your bike, was that easy? Did you get on the first attempt or did it take time and practice? Give yourself the space to learn and grow your mindful practice free of judgment.
Today, instead of eating lunch while having a conversation or thinking about what you have to do after lunch; try to eat lunch and notice every flavor you taste. If you are being mindful, you are not thinking about “Is it good or bad to have lunch?” You are just really having lunch. By recognizing what your lunch looks like, feels like, tastes like, sounds like – you are being mindful!
Tomorrow go on a mindful walk in the park. Instead of walking through the park distracted by thoughts of the fight you had with your friend earlier; walk through the park being aware of your feelings and thoughts about the park, how the park looks, and the sensation of each step you take on the ground.
Take time each day to incorporate one mindfulness practice in your normal routine and with time expand your mindfulness practice to multiple parts of your life. The key to mindfulness is to observe, describe, and participate in one thing in the moment free of judgement and in an effective manner. Mindfulness brings you to the window to acceptance, freedom, and wisdom. You must first simply take a breath and notice. Join me today in being mindful!
By Dr. Dominique Adkins, Therapist for The Wise Family
Linehan, M. M. (2015). DBT® skills training manual (2nd ed.). New York, NY, US: Guilford Press.
Learn more about Dominique here! She’s our featured clinician of the month!