Mindfulness is a state of awareness.
It is cultivated by systematically focusing attention on bodily sensations, emotions, thoughts, or the surrounding environment.
Mindfulness can help you detach from emotional pain (e.g., anxiety, anger, sadness, self-harm). It is basically a way to distract yourself by focusing on something other than the difficult emotions you are experiencing. You may also think of mindfulness as grounding, centering, distracting, creating a safe place, or healthy detachment.
Although mindfulness does not solve the problem that is contributing to your unpleasant emotions, it does provide a temporary way to gain control over your feelings and prevent things from getting worse.
Mindfulness anchors you, gives you a chance to calm down, and allows you to eventually return and address the problem that is triggering the unpleasant emotions to begin with. And mindfulness can be done anytime, anywhere, and no one has to know.
1. Describe your environment in detail, using all of your senses – for example, “The walls are white, there are five blue chairs, there is a wooden bookshelf against the wall…” Describe objects, sounds, textures, colors, smells, shapes, numbers, and temperature. You can do this anywhere.
2. Play a “categories” game with yourself. Try to think of types of dogs, jazz musicians, animals or famous people that begin with each letter of the alphabet, cars, TV shows, writers, sports, songs, cities.
3. Describe an everyday activity in great detail. For example, describe a meal that you cook (e.g., “First, I peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters; then I boil the water; then I make an herb marinade of oregano, basil, garlic, and olive oil…”).
4. Imagine. Use a pleasant or comforting mental image. Again, use all of your senses to make it as real and vid as possible.
5. Read something, saying each word to yourself. Or read each letter backwards so that you focus on the letters and not the meaning of words.
6. Use humor. Think of something funny to jolt yourself out of your mood.
7. Count to 10 or say the alphabet, very s . . . l . . . o . . . w . . . l . . . y.
1. Run cool or warm water over your hands.
2. Grab tightly onto your chair as hard as you can; notice the sensations and the experience.
3. Touch various objects around you: a pen, your clothing, the table, the walls. Notice textures, colors, weight, temperature. Compare the objects you touch.
4. Carry an object in your pocket – a small object (a small rock, ring, piece of cloth) that you can touch whenever you feel unpleasant emotions rising.
5. Notice your body: the weight of your body in the chair; wiggling your toes in your socks; the feel of your back against the chair.
6. Stretch. Extend your fingers, arms, legs as far as you can; slowly and gently roll your head around.
7. Clench and release your firsts.
8. Jump up and down.
9. Eat something in a savoring way; fully experience the food; describe the sights, aromas, textures, flavors, and the experience in detail to yourself.
10. Focus on your breathing, noticing each inhale and exhale. Repeat a pleasant word to yourself on each exhale.