6 practical ways to practice being present – mindfulness tips

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How many times has my body been in a wonderfully enjoyable  place while my mind was stuck in a worried, angry or fearful place? In Zen Habits, Leo offers some great tips to enjoy the NOW!

Mo

6 Practical Ways to Practice Being Present

Posted: 14 Oct 2016 07:43 AM PDT

By Leo Babauta

There are a lot of amazing benefits to being more present and mindful, but one of my favorites is this: you’re not missing the beauty and joy of the present moment.

Being present also helps you to see when you are feeling fear or resistance, uncertainty or the urge to procrastinate, anger or resentment … and then to work with those difficulties mindfully.

That’s all great, but how do you remember to practice being present? It’s so easy to get caught up in our thoughts and distractions, and forget to practice.

The honest truth is that no one is perfect at this. Me least of all. It’s a continual learning process, not something you figure out and then you’re good. It’s messy and beautiful.

So with that in mind, here are some practical ways to practice:

  1. A Small Regular Practice. Form the simple habit of meditating for just two minutes a day (to start with). After you wake up, simply sit comfortably and try to focus on your breath for two minutes. When (not if) your mind wanders, just notice it and label it “thinking.” And gently return to the breath, without harshness. Set a timer, and when the timer goes off, you’re done! If you feel like expanding it by a minute every week or so, feel free to do so, but you don’t have to expand. The benefit of this regular practice is that you learn skills you can take and practice in other parts of your day.
  2. Work with Others. Having a regular group or partner to meditate with is helpful. You support each other continuing to practice, and can talk about struggles and things you’re learning. If you don’t have a practice group in your area, you could find people online to talk to regularly about practicing.
  3. Have Mindfulness Bells. You could have a chime regularly sound off on your phone or computer (numerous apps do this) to remind you to pause and be mindful of what’s going on right now. I’ve also found it useful to see other things as mindfulness bells: seeing my child’s face, a traffic light, hearing an alert from an appliance or the computer. Each of these can be a reminder to be present when I notice them.
  4. Set an Intention Before an Activity. If you’re about to do a work task, process email, read a book, cook dinner … you can pause just before starting, and think for a second about what your intention for that activity might be. What are you hoping to do with this activity? For me, I might cook dinner out of love for my family or myself. I might write a blog post (like this one) out of love for my readers. I might do a workout out of love for myself (and to set a good example for my kids). I process email out of responsibility and consideration for those trying to communicate with me. By setting an intention, it reminds you to be mindful of that intention as you do any activity.
  5. Reflect Daily. At the end of each day, or at the beginning, take a minute to journal or just reflect on how your day has gone. How have you done with practicing being present? What have you struggled with? Have you been using your mindfulness bells and setting intentions? What resistance has come up for you, what stories are you telling yourself about all of this? Daily reflection is one of the most useful habits for continuing to practice and getting better at practicing.
  6. See Everything as a Teacher. This method admittedly sounds a bit corny, but it’s actually amazing. When you’re feeling frustrated with someone, feeling stressed out by work, feeling upset or grieving about the health of a loved one, feeling anxious about a national election … pause and see this person or situation as a teacher. What can you learn from them about being present? What attachments can you see in yourself that are causing this difficulty? What stories are you forming that are causing you to feel this way? What can you practice letting go of? What can you appreciate about this moment that you are taking for granted? In this way, every difficulty, every person, everything that arises in the present moment can be a loving teacher that is helping us along the path to being present.

Mindfulness for Beginner’s ebook

If you’d like help with mindfulness, check out my new Zen Habits Beginner’s Guide to Mindfulness short ebook.

DBT- could it help you too?

2e3bead43728b0072795936bd014a52dI’ve been in Psychotherapy for a number of years and don’t plan to quit anytime soon!  I feel it gives me some of the best skills in handling life and the accompanying stress that comes along with it.

In my several years I have learned much about dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) Once an area that was reserved for only those who were diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, DBT has become a skill set that psychologists are teaching to a wide variety of patients who may be struggling with a wide variety of emotional regulation.

I love DBT especially because it includes mindfulness training. Mindfulness is learning to stay in the present without time traveling. It’s eliminating the “if onlys” and the “what ifs” (which are past and future worries).

There are four modules to DBT-read below and see if it’s for you! I hope you learn something new from this post!

Mo

The Four Skill Modules

DBT Skills training is made up of four modules: core mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. They are designed to specifically assist individuals in better managing behaviors, emotions and thoughts. The intent is to help people who experience problems with anger or the expression of anger, episodic depression, irritability or anxiety, intense or chaotic relationships, impulsivity, stress and feelings of emptiness.

Core Mindfulness teaches a person how to focus their mind and attention. Distress Tolerance develops acceptance of the current situation as well as crisis survival skills to decrease the likelihood of engaging in problematic behavior. Emotion Regulation skills include learning to identify and label current emotions, identifying obstacles to changing emotions, reducing emotional reactivity, increasing positive emotions and changing emotions. Interpersonal Effectiveness skills teach helpful strategies for asking for what one needs, saying no, and coping with interpersonal conflict.

 

Mindfulness SkillsCore Mindfulness Skills
Mindfulness skills in DBT come from the eastern spiritual traditions. These skills help members focus on the present and attend to what is happening in the here and now in a calm way. It helps people slow down and focus on doing what is needed to care for oneself in the moment. Members learn the value of wise mind instead of succumbing to intense emotions and acting in a destructive way.

 

 

Distress Tolerance Skills
Distress tolerance helps people get through difficult times when emotions are running high. It teaches people to soothe themselves in healthy ways when they are feeling upset rather than becoming overwhelmed by emotions or hiding from them. This allows individuals to make wise decisions about whether and how to take action, rather than falling into the intense, desperate and often-destructive emotional reactions. Crisis survival skills are also taught so that one does not engage in problematic behaviors and ultimately make the situation worse. Reality Acceptance Skills focus on helping people fully accept reality and provide a guideline for responding to painful aspects of life.

 

Interpersonal Effectiveness SkillsInterpersonal Effectiveness Skills
Interpersonal effectiveness skills involve helping people understand what their needs are in their relationships and helps develop effective ways of dealing with others in order to get one’s wants or needs met in a healthy way. This involves respecting the self and others, listening and communicating effectively, dealing with difficult people, repairing relationships and being able to say no.

 

 

Emotion REgulation SkillsEmotion Regulation Skills
The DBT emotion regulation skills help people understand their emotions. It teaches people to decrease the intensity of their feelings and helps them ride out strong emotions without acting on them. It provides education about the function of emotions and how to not be swamped by them.

From: http://www.dbtskillsgroupnj.com/four-skill-modules/

Buddha’s Brain

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Today I began reading the widely-acclaimed book, Buddha’s Brain, which explains the anxiety/stress reaction in masterful detail and in a way I can understand. I now agree that, “pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” I have practiced and lead meditation for years, but seeing the positive neurological effects in black and white has me reeling! I highly advise you to venture into the science of meditation.  It’s absolutely life-changing!

Mo