Practicing Observing

The following is courtesy of DBT and Marsha Linehan

Observe with your eyes:
– Lie on the ground and watch the clouds in the sky.
– Walking slowly, stopping somewhere with a view, notice flowers, trees, and nature itself.
– Sit outside. Watch who and what go by in front of you, without following them with your head or eyes.
– Notice the facial expressions and movements of another person. Refrain from labeling the person’s emotions, thoughts, or interests.
– Notice just the eyes, lips, or hands of another person (or just one feature of an animal).
– Pick up a leaf, a flower, or a pebble. Look at it closely, trying to see each detail.
– Find something beautiful to look at, and spend a few minutes contemplating it.

Observe sounds:
– Stop for a moment and just listen. Listen to the texture and shape of the sounds around you. Listen to the silences between the sounds.
– If someone is talking, listen to the pitch of the voice, to the smoothness or roughness of the sounds, to the clarity or the mumbling of the speech, to the pauses between the words.
– Listen to the music, observing each note as it comes and the spaces between the notes. Try breathing the sounds into your body and letting them flout out again on your breath.

Observe smells around you:
– Breathing in, notice any smells around you. Bring something close to your nose, and notice the smells. Take it away, and then notice the smells again. Do they linger?
– When bathing, notice the smell of the soap or shampoo.
– When walking, notice the smell of the air around you.

Observe urges to do something:
– “Urge-surf” by imagining that your urges are a surfboard and you are standing on the board, riding the waves.
– Notice any urge to avoid someone or something.
– Scan your entire body, and notice the sensations. Where in the body is the urge?

Observe sensations of touch on your skin:
– When walking, notice the sensations of walking – your feet hitting the ground and rising up and down. Sometimes walk very slowly and notice.
– When sitting, notice your legs touching the seat of the chair. Notice the curve of your knees and your back against the chair.
– Touch something – the wall, a fabric, a table top, a pet, a piece of fruit, etc.
– Notice the texture of what you feel, notice the sensations on your skin.
– Try it again with another part of your body or area of skin.
– Notice the sensations.
– Focus your attention on the sensations in your chest, your stomach, or your shoulders.
– Focus your attention on the place in your body where you feel tight or tense.

Observe your breath: Breathe evenly and gently, focusing your attention on:
– The movement of your stomach.
– As you begin to breathe in, allow your belly to rise.
– The pauses in your breathing.
– As you breathe in, notice the brief pause when your lungs have filled with air.
– As you breathe out, notice the brief pause when you have expelled all the air.
– The sensations in your nose as you breathe in and out.
– Your breath while listening to a piece of music.
– Follow your breath.

Observe thoughts coming in and out of your mind:
– Notice thoughts as they come into your mind.
– Ask, “Where do thoughts come from?”
– Then watch them to see of you can see where they come into your mind.
– As you notice thoughts in your mind, notice the pauses between each thought.
– Imagine that your mind is the sky and that thoughts are clouds.
– Notice each thought-cloud as it drifts by letting it drift in and out of your mind.
– Imagine thoughts as leaves on the water flowing down a stream, as boats drifting by on the lake, or as train cars rolling by you.

Imagine that your mind is a:
– Conveyor belt, and that the thoughts are coming down the belt.
– Put each thought or feeling in a box, and then put it back on the conveyor belt and let it go by.

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