Mindfulness: Focusing on the Senses

6 Aug

One of the biggest trends in therapy right now is called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and it’s really a combination of a lot of different approaches to behavior change. But, perhaps the most notable technique to come out of this modality is called “mindfulness.” And, none of us in the therapy field can believe we didn’t think of this before!

What’s mindfulness, you ask? It’s the ability to be “in the moment,” to be aware of your surroundings. To calm oneself in the midst of chaos. Bottom line: it’s the ability to just be.

Mindfulness comes in handy in all sorts of ways–many of the teenage girls I worked with used it to focus on the present and try to minimize their temptation to “catastrophize” things (imagine all the things that can go wrong).meditation

But, I realize it also is a great tool to use when you’re in the midst of conflict. One therapist I know helps clients achieve mindfulness by asking them to focus on one sense (sight, sound, etc.). When you’re in conflict, and you’re able to calm yourself and focus on the “here and now,” the conflict doesn’t take a series of left-turns into blame.

I just used the technique this afternoon when my middle child decided to have a full-blown tantrum over her iPad (long story). I was driving at the time and resisted the temptation to escalate the conflict with her. I simply focused on my driving and stayed calm. It felt good.

So, try it next time you’re in the midst of a conflict, and see if you can stay in the moment and focus on what’s happening around you. It’s a better alternative to focusing on the past and the future–and keeps the conflict where it belongs: in the present.


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