When I first present the concepts of Observe & Describe to my clients, they often ask me how/when to utilize them. The power of mindfulness is a skill that has to be practiced by a person on a consistent basis for it to make a difference in their lives. The power of Participate is perhaps one of the most difficult concepts to master in mindfulness. When trying to be a mindful person, one must fully participate in whatever they are doing. When you are doing home work you only do home work, when you are having a conversation you only have the conversation, etc. You do only one thing at a time and you do it with 100% of your attention. In the modern area of cell phones, text messaging, and computers; people often are doing 3 things at once without even realizing it. Think about how many times you have been talking on the phone to somebody while surfing the internet or driving your car while texting at the same time. We all do it everyday but when we divide our attention and energy to multiple things at once, we often are not being effective in that situation.
Think about a baseball pitcher for a minute. If the pitcher is in mid wind-up and then starts thinking about leaving his iron on at home or starts looking at a pretty girl in the stands…what happens to the quality of his pitch? It surely will not be a strike down the middle. Athletes have been using mindfulness techniques for years to focus more on their game and improve their performance. So why would we assume that we can surf the internet and still have a quality conversation at the same time. Why would we assume that we could text message and still be a safe driver? The answer is that we can’t! The main part of this stage of mindfulness is letting go of distractions and fully participating in what we are doing. When we are in class listening to the professor lecture, we fully participate in the lecture. When our mind drifts away and starts thinking about how we can’t wait for class to end because we are hungry…we go through the steps of mindfulness
“I am being distracted”
” I just had a thought about wanting class to end so I can eat”
” I am having a physical sensation of my stomach growling and my mouth is watering”
” I need to bring myself back to the present”
“Look at the teacher and watch the teacher move with eyes”
“Listen to the sound of the teacher’s voice with my ears”
“Feel the touch of my pencil against my hands”
If you follow these steps, then you will identify the distraction and bring yourself back to the present. If you become distracted over and over again, then utilize the same steps and bring yourself back again. It doesn’t matter how many times you are distracted, all that matters is that you bring yourself back to the present again and again.
Even when you are not being distracted, consistently check in with yourself to make sure that you are fully participating in your life. When you are eating, say to yourself “I am eating right now”. If you are doing home work say to yourself ” I am doing homework right now”. This will allow you to make sure you are being present. Remember, practice, practice, practice. Mindfulness is a not the way our brain wants to work and you must be disciplined in your practice.