In my DBT skills group, where I will be learning skills to practice throughout the week, we go through the standard four modules: mindfulness; interpersonal effectiveness; distress tolerance; and emotion regulation. We divide it into three sections, with the mindfulness module being the starting point for the latter three, each of these three sections lasting approximately six weeks. This allows for new members to join in for another module but still benefit from the basics of mindfulness, and it brings a refresher for practicing mindfulness at the beginning of the other three modules.
Now that I’ve explained that, this first week we started with introductions and then went into popular forms of mindfulness practices and the ways it might benefit us in different situations. The goal of mindfulness is to bring emotion mind and rational mind together into wise mind, to get a more clear view of the present situation so we can handle it properly. I’ve mentioned these separate minds before, but I’m still learning more about their functions.
Popular mindfulness techniques involve things like imagining you’re a stone that has been tossed into a lake. Instead of focusing on the ripples above, you follow the stone as it gently floats downward, observing the things around it, feeling the sensation of going down to settle peacefully at the lake’s bottom. I like this one more than the next example, where you imagine you’re walking down a spiral staircase down into your inner self. Perhaps you stop to sit somewhere, turn on lights as you go, etc.. I’ve found I don’t like the methods that involve me imagining myself, for some reason, so I’ll stick with the stone, thanks.
There are other methods where you focus on your breathing: focusing on the pause between inhalation and exhalation, breathing “wise” in, “mind” out. In others, you ask Wise Mind a question on breathing in, then wait – don’t force it – for the answer breathing out.
Mindfulness can be helpful in any situation where you find yourself too emotional or too objective. It might be helpful when you need to find empathy but are too objective to feel it. You can practice the techniques to combine emotion mind, where empathy is, to rational mind. Same with when you are too emotional and can’t focus on the logic; it helps you calm down and regain your ability to think clearly.