HOW Skills: Non-Judgmentally & Effectively

Last week we talked about how to practice one-mindfully, one of the HOW skills of mindfulness. The last two HOW skills, non-judgmentally and effectively, in combination with one-mindfully and the WHAT skills, give us the tools we need to be mindful and present in the moment.

The non-judgmentally skill is about the facts. This skill emphasizes seeing but not evaluating. You want to take a non-judgmental stance towards yourself and what is going on around you.

  • Focus on the “what”, not the “good” or “bad” or the “should”.
  • Accept each moment for what it is.
  • Acknowledge what is helpful or harmful but don’t judge it.
  • When you find yourself making judgments, don’t judge your judging. Notice you’re judging and go back to a non-judgmental stance.

The last HOW skill, effectively, is about focusing on what works.

  • Do what needs to be to be done in each situation in order to meet your larger goals.
  • Play by the rules! Use your skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the situation you are in and not the situation you wish you were in.
  • Let go of emotions that will not work in the situation, like vengeance or anger.

The WHAT and HOW skills of mindfulness gives us the chance to observe, describe, and participate one-mindfully, non-judgmentally, and effectively. It can be overwhelming to incorporate all of the skills at once, but give it a try and see how mindfulness can improve your day-to-day!

HOW Skill: One-Mindfully

The WHAT skills of mindfulness (observe, describe, and participate) allowed us to examine what is happening in the present moment. The HOW skills give us the tools to use our WHAT skills.

The first HOW skill, one-mindfully, emphasizes that we should do one thing at a time. When you are eating, eat. When you are walking, walk. When you are in a group, or a conversation, focus your attention on the very moment you are in with the other person. Do each thing with all of your attention.

If other actions, thoughts, or strong feeling distract you, try to let go of distractions and go back to what you are doing. If you find you are doing two things at once (like homework and checking your phone or social media), stop and go back to one thing at a time.

When we are able to one-mindfully observe, describe, and participate in the moment, we get more out of what we are doing. When we are fully present, we can make informed choices, and we are giving ourselves and what or who we are interacting with our full attention. We are doing ourselves a favor when we practice one-mindfully – we save time by not having to re-do tasks and we have more meaningful interactions with others!

WHAT Skills

Before we jump into mindfulness skills, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is nonjudgmental awareness of the now. It’s being able to choose what to focus on – this gives you the chance to plan and respond to what is happening around you instead of only reacting. Mindfulness gives you a choice in your actions.

The WHAT skills of mindfulness are observe, describe, and participate.


  • Notice how you feel without trying to make feelings stronger, weaker, trying to push them away, or making them last longer.
  • What comes through your senses? Notice what’s happening with touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste.
  • Try to notice what is happening internally and externally but let these things slide off of your body and your emotions.


  • Use words to describe what you observed.
  • Try to avoid emotional words.
  • Try to let go of emotions being “right” or being “wrong”.


  • Allow yourself to get lost in observing and describing.
  • Let go and allow yourself to be natural in the situation you’re observing and describing.

Practicing the WHAT skills can be tough, but if you can tune into what is happening in the present, you will have more control over how you respond. Next week we’ll cover the HOW skills and how we can combine these with the WHAT skills to practice mindfulness!