What is Mindfulness, Anyway?

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. A reawakening of the moment.

Wait. Huh? What? What exactly does that mean?

We talk a lot about mindfulness here at the Miller-Dwan Foundation. Mindfulness is the basis for much of the mental health care funded by the foundation. It’s the core of care at Amberwing, and it’s used on the inpatient mental health units here at Miller-Dwan. And suddenly, we’re hearing about mindfulness every where we turn.

Generally, to be mindful means living in the moment. It means, instead of pulling out your phone while you’re waiting for the bus, you notice the sky, the sounds around you, and the breeze on your face. Mindfulness can slow us down and help us learn to be grateful. But here at the Miller-Dwan Foundation, we take it a bit f

urther. Here, mindfulness is all about DBT.

DBT, or Dialectical Behavior Therapy is a treatment that targets emotion dysregulation. Often people get emotionally dysregulated by seemingly insignificant or trivial events, not because of the events themselves, but by how they think about them. You might, for example, hate hate hate hate folding laundry. It’s boring, you tell yourself. It’s stupid and a complete waste of time. Your mind is telling you all sorts of awful things about the task.

A mindful approach, on the other hand, would have you turning your mind to the act of folding the laundry. Paying attention to the way your arms move, to the sensation and smell of the fabric. Just noticing. Not judging. Just being fully engaged in the act. By fully attending to the laundry, your brain is unable to twirl itself into a distasteful downward spiral.

Mindfulness and DBT, when used regularly and practiced well, can support us in so many ways. In small ways like folding laundry and in big ways like averting a crisis. It’s actually kind of fun to learn, and it can really turn your life around whether you need it or not. You can learn DBT at Amberwing (read more about that here). Their Family and Friends class is available to anyone.

For more information about the class and how you can register, call Lori at Amberwing at (218) 355-2100.

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Together we will realize our shared vision of a community free from mental health crisis.