In today’s society, there always are so many things fighting for our attention. We live at a frenzied pace, running from one event to the next or trying to do five different things at once. We are taught to be multitaskers because of all the things that demand our time and attention, from advertisements to Instagram posts to tasks on our to-do lists. We never seem to have enough time, so we talk on the phone while replying to emails, we reply to a text while walking on the treadmill, and we scroll through Instagram while stirring something on the pan.
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) reminds us of the value of doing things one-mindfully, which is one of the “how” skills of mindfulness. Practicing one-mindfulness is exactly what it sounds like – doing ONE thing at a time, and being completely present as you do it. The goal is to concentrate on what you’re doing without multitasking. Instead of watching TV while eating dinner, try doing just one thing: Finish your dinner while practicing mindful eating, then watch an episode of your favorite TV show. This way, you can be present during each activity, allowing you to get more enjoyment from both your meal and your show.
You can practice one-mindfulness while cooking a meal, taking a walk, calling a friend, washing your dishes, showering, or grocery shopping. Let each movement be intentional and slow, and be aware of any sensations that arise. Come back to your breath when you notice yourself getting distracted.
Take time to notice how you feel after practicing this skill. Do you feel a greater sense of focus? Or a feeling of awareness and presence, even if it’s just a little bit? It’s also okay if you don’t feel any different – many of the benefits come with time as you keep practicing!
We’re often tempted to think that mindfulness can only happen when you’re in the right environment for meditation, but remember that you can practice mindfulness anytime and anywhere. The most important thing is to bring your attention to what’s happening in the present so that you can find a greater sense of awareness, connection, and presence.