Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is a great way to help clients cope with different issues. And, at its core is mindfulness, staying present. This is where we can stay focused and control our thoughts and feelings.
When our thoughts go to the future, we often experience greater feelings of anxiety. We play out the what ifs and sometimes imagine the worst. Other times, our thoughts may go to the past to feelings of regret, shame or guilt. Once this type of thinking begins, it’s hard to stop and regain control. So, staying present and in control is where we want to be.
The best way to stay present is by being mindful of our breathing and practicing that in a very specific way. Follow these steps and give it a try.
- Elongate your torso and sit up nice and tall.
- Take the curve out of your spine by tucking your tailbone under.
- Relax your jaw and loosen your tongue.
- On the count of four, breathe in through your nose, expanding the lower abdominal diaphragm.
- Hold four counts.
- Then, gently and steadily exhale all your breath through your mouth for four counts.
The more you practice this mindfulness breathing exercise, the better your body will feel.
Kim R DiRe’ Hello, my name is Kim Lipsman. I’m a mental health therapist that uses Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, or DBT, to help clients with different issues.
The thing about DBT is that it’s a wonderful skill set for people. The basis, or foundation, that DBT lands on is mindfulness. Mindfulness, in simple terms, is staying present on purpose, staying in the now.
It sounds like such a simple concept, and yet it is one of the hardest things to do. What’s easy for us to do is we move too far in the future which causes a lot of anxiety. Sometimes, just an hour in the future can accelerate that anxiety.
When we move into the past, sometimes shame and guilt comes up. What we want to do is lessen those activating feelings by staying present.
One of the simplest ways to do that is to breathe. If you’ll just do that with me right now, we can practice for one moment in time, mindfulness ‑‑ staying present on purpose. If you’re sitting in a chair watching this, just sit up nice and tall. Take the curve out of your spine by tucking your tailbone under.
Imagine that there’s a string that goes from the ceiling all the way down through your spine, so you have this nice, gentle support without any arches in your back. That way we have this elongated torso, so that the lungs can expand, give us a full range of breath.
Now if you’re standing, it’s easier to do. Then laying down is just the ideal place to do this breathing, Whatever is going to fit for this moment for you. If you can just unlock that jaw and loosen your tongue, we’re going to breathe in through our nose, and we’re going to exhale out through our mouth.
On the count of four, please breathe in through your nose, expanding that lower abdominal diaphragm, a gentle hold, and then release out through your mouth in a gentle, steady stream, your breath.
Make sure all the breath comes out so the next inhalation has a place to go. Inhaling in, two, three, four, a gentle hold, two, three, four, and exhalation, two, three, four. One more time, OK? Inhale in, a gentle expansion of that lower diaphragm, and then exhale out through our loosened jaw, loosened tongue, breath, exhaling all the way out.
I just want you to notice, notice what that was. Notice how your body feels, staying present on purpose. What’s really great with mindfulness, the more you practice, the better you get at it, the better you’ll feel. So, enjoy.