#askingforafriend: How to practice mindfulness

January 05, 2022 / by / 0 Comment

By Caitlin Rudgear
GCU Office of Student Care

Mindfulness is defined as “the act of consciously focusing the mind in the present moment without judgment and without attachment to the moment.”

Practicing mindfulness helps us to both observe and participate in life without judgment, present-focused and with effectiveness. The opposite of mindfulness can be viewed as behavior and activity that is automatic or rote.

Mindfulness skills are a common practice to learn in therapy because it helps us slow down and pay more attention to what is going on, whereas when we are feeling anxious or are experiencing a trigger, it often becomes very difficult to understand what is going on internally.

Mindfulness practice includes the repeated practice of bringing our mind back to the present moment and letting go of our attachment to:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Sensations
  • Activities
  • Events
  • Life situations

Mindfulness and meditation often can be mistaken for one another. One can be mindful without meditating. Meditation is being mindful while sitting or standing still for a period of time, while mindfulness is able to be practiced anytime while doing any activity.

There are two types of mindfulness practices:

  • Opening the mind: Noticing or watching what comes into the awareness without holding onto them, comparable to watching objects go by on a conveyor belt
  • Focusing the mind: Paying attention to specific events, either internally or externally (e.g., noticing specific emotions or thoughts going through the mind vs. noticing scenery, a painting, another person or another external stimulus)

Two stances that can be taken while practicing:

  • Getting distance by pulling back and watching
  • Moving forward and becoming “what is”

These stances can be contrasted and further understood by thinking about “standing on a high mountain and picturing one’s emotions as boulders far down below versus entering fully into the experience of one’s emotions.”

Mindfulness skills can be practiced while at work, going for a walk or at home. If you’re new to mindfulness, one helpful way to begin practicing is by downloading an app (e.g. Calm, Headspace or Insight Timer), and practicing with a guide to walk you through an exercise.



            Linehan, Marsha M. (2017) DBT Skills Training Manual. Guilford.

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