Some of the core aspects of Mindfulness are called “What” and “How” skills. The What skills explain what you should try to focus on and the How skills show you how to be non-judgemental and effective. This article focuses on the WHAT skills.
Mindfulness is about trying to calm the mind and whilst meditating you can observe your thoughts and try to acknowledge them and let them float away. A few ideas to explain this is to imagine you are stood on a river bank. In normal life we are in the river getting caught up in each rapid and turn of the water …. which means that you are getting caught up in thoughts and emotions and letting them lead you life. The ideal is to stand and watch these thoughts, feelings and emotion float past you so you can treat them in a non-judgemental way and not get involved with them. You then don’t get caught up with every thought and emotion and can deal with life more effectively. Another idea is to let your thoughts float away on clouds or a conveyor belt. It doesn’t really matter, it’s which is best for you and your mind.
What skills help us to develop a lifestyle of participating with awareness. Participation without awareness leads to impulsive actions which are usually not the best course of action.
The first What skill is to observe. This is looking (observing) events, emotions and behaviours without trying to stop or extend them. This may mean you need to step back from the event to observe. For example walking and observing walking are 2 different responses. Observing is to sense the event, there are no words, just experience the moment. Notice what comes through your senses, your eyes, ears, nose, skin and tongue.
WHAT – Describing. Describing is to not judge something, to label something in an evaluative way. To describe is just the facts, no thoughts or ideas, just facts. Thinking that you are stupid and a failure, does not mean that you are stupid or a failure, just a thought that is not true. Wise describing which is mindful, would be, I’m a clever as I can be and there is always room for improvement, I’m doing my best. Put words on the experience, such as , “Sadness has enveloped me”, “Stomach muscles tightening”
WHAT – Participating. Participating is to wholly enter into an activity and become one with it, such as meditating. As you are fully immersed in the activity you are completely in the moment and being mindful. Participating can also be mindless as well, such as, driving home from work and not remembering part of the journey as you are thinking about something else.
Please check out the next article for the HOW skills.