Be Like a Baby - DBT Mindfulness Skill

A few weeks ago in my weekly DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) group, the doctor asked us all to place one hand flat on the table and leave it there. About 30 seconds later, she asked us about our experiences - specifically, she asked if we started to describe the experience.
I certainly had. My mind is quick to think, analyze, and describe, pretty much all of the time. I rarely get a break from the constant stream of thoughts.

When I placed my hand on the table, I had the following thoughts:

"My hand is on the table.
The table feels cold.
I feel the pressure of my hand against the table."

When we went around the circle, it turned out that all of the other patients had the same type of experience.  Describing is a good skill for staying grounded and in the moment, but today we were going to learn a new skill: Being in the present moment, or Being Mindful.

The doctor suggested that we think about how a baby experiences the world before he or she has any concept of associating words with things. When a baby feels the table, the baby is fully immersed in feeling the table.

This can be a little bit confusing to "get" at first. In fact, it took me a few weeks of random opportunities to practice touching tables and similiar activities before I began to get it. Now, when I place my hand on a table with the intention of practicing this mindfulness activity, I simply place my hand on the table. If thoughts come in that want to describe, I watch the thoughts float away like clouds in the sky, and I am totally immersed in the experience, just like a baby.

A beautiful baby in the present moment. Photo Credit
The doctor suggested that we "just observe like a baby - with no words - just BE the experience." She also suggested that we keep our eyes open during the practice.

If you practice, you will "get it" too, and, if your experience is anything like mine, you may experience a moment of bliss when you fully connect to the moment without having to put names or descriptions on anything.

Another example that we were given as a potential practice assignment is around mindful eating. The suggestion is to eat a raisin as if you are an alien who just came to this planet and had never seen one before. I have yet to try this, but doesn't it sound fun? If you have done this or something similar, please do share your experience. Others (including me) will find it very interesting.

Mindfully Eating a Raisin   Photo Credit
Some other thoughts from the class:

Mindfulness is the Quality of Awareness or Presence.
Part of being mindful is to do one thing at a time.

What has been your experience with Mindfulness Practices? What are your successess and challenges around this particular DBT skill?

Thank you for sharing.

More soon.


  1. When I was in groups in San Francisco in the 70's, we used to do stuff like touch the table to become grounded, or in the moment. They didn't call it DBT in those days though, nor mindfulness. Same as for the eating exercise. I'd forgotten about that time. It was more simply a part of group meditation. We'd also do a lot of guided tours, which were my favorite. Do they still do those? They must.

  2. Hi Linda. Thank you for your comment. I think a LOT of the DBT skills are derived from Zen Buddhism. Actually, Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of DBT, often mentions similarities between the skills and what she learned when she studied mindfulness at a zen monastery. Guided tours? Do you mean a guided meditation type of exercise?

  3. Yes, the same thing as guided meditation -- imagine yourself in a special place, etc.
    That's interesting. I've often wondered what DBT is about and somehow thought it had to do with keeping lists of feelings and your reactions. And so, I wasn't interested because I'm not the type to write all that down. I get too frustrated too easily.
    I think I'll do some reading on it. Thank you!

  4. Hmm, when I read this I think of my yoga classes, which I guess are a lot of guided meditation too.

    1. Reminds me of yoga class, too! ♥



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