One use of the “observe” mindfulness skill

Sometimes experiences are too painful to capture in words. One of the ways of using the observing mindfulness skill is to start to pay attention to what cannot be spoken: sensation, thought, experience, desire, and emotion.  Notice how intense you feel things, how quickly experience fluctuates, and how long it takes you to resume an emotional baseline. Notice where in your body you feel tension, tightness, or pain.  Do not try to change what you feel. Simply observe.

Emotions do not just happen randomly. An intense experience that appears to “come out of the blue” is worth paying attention to.  If you don’t know what controls your emotions, you may not feel in control of your actions. Just observing what is felt is the first step in gaining mastery and organizing emotional experience.

Observing emotion helps us to increase our tolerance of intense emotion, which not only puts us more in touch with our experience, but enhances our connection to others. Allowing ourselves to be present with our own pain can help us be present with the pain of others. When the compassion of others can be felt, there is a reduced chance of alienation, disconnection, detachment, and despair.