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!

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