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Mindfulness Exercises for DBT

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

      • Understanding the different DBT mindfulness exercises you can do.
      • Mindfulness exercises help make DBT so effective.
      • Mindfulness is a simple concept but can be challenging to maintain.
      • You can practice mindfulness anytime.
      • Mindful walking, body scans, and urge surfing are a few ways mindfulness assists DBT.

    Mindfulness is a core Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skill because it’s all about living in the moment and leaving behind past mistakes and future worries. That doesn’t mean it comes naturally, however. 

    Mindfulness is a lot like meditation, but it’s not the same. That’s where many people get confused. Mindfulness means staying more acutely aware of the present moment. Meditation has varying focal points. 

    Staying mindful can be challenging, especially if you are out of practice. This guide explains the basics of DBT, why mindfulness is an integral part of the process, and some fun and easy exercises to use throughout your journey. Boost the power of your therapy with these illuminating DBT mindfulness exercises.

    DBT and Mindfulness

    Dialectical behavioral therapy, or DBT, is a type of psychotherapy. It is a modified version of cognitive behavior therapy. The primary objective of these types of therapies is to help the patient live more fully in the present moment instead of worrying about the future or lamenting the past. 

    Mindfulness – being intentionally aware of what’s happening around you, without judgment – is one of the most valuable skills you can employ during DBT. 

    DBT Mindfulness Exercises

    Exercises of any sort help us to stay in shape, whether it’s physically or mentally. Using mindfulness exercises during DBT helps boost its effectiveness and keep you on track to success. Here are a few of the most simple but effective ways to inject mindfulness into your routine activities:


    Walking is a mindful activity when you pay attention to your surroundings and how they affect you physically. Just for fun, walk around your neighborhood, home, or room. Focus on the sensations you experience, such as how the ground feels, the smell of the air, and the feel of the sun or rain on your skin. 

    Another way to walk mindfully is to count the birds, inspect the flowers, and seek out rocks of a specific color or shape. Immerse yourself fully in the experience, and you will be mindful.


    You can eat mindfully by paying close attention to the food and how it looks, smells, and tastes. Examine the fork or spoon and how it feels in your hand. What does the plate look like? 

    Note the food’s texture, weight, and color. Focus on each bite and try to distinguish its various ingredients. Eating mindfully is also a great way to lose weight because people tend to eat less when they pay attention to every bite.


    Listen mindfully by paying sharp attention to everything you hear. Choose one sound and intensify your focus. Listen for the tonal variants and any melodies you can cipher. If it’s a piece of music, try to identify the bass line, instruments, and time. 

    Another way to listen mindfully is to name everything you hear: dog, bird, car horn, rustling wind. This exercise keeps your ears focused on the sounds around you that you might not usually notice.


    Your movements can be mindful whether you are dancing, walking, skipping, swimming, or wavering in the breeze. Notice how your limbs move and how the muscles feel as they power you along. Feel the sensation of your feet touching the ground and the beauty of your muscles moving in tandem. 


    Listen carefully to what the other person is saying in your next conversation. Pay attention to the words and the inflection in their voice. Contemplate your response and give a reply that displays empathy and compassion so they know you hear them. Try to connect in a way that lets the other person know their words are valued.

    Urge Surfing

    Combatting urges is a typical issue for most DBT patients. Whether it’s an addiction or negative behavior, urge surfing is a mindful way to deal with adverse impulses. It involves accepting the urge’s existence and ignoring it in favor of deep breaths and mindfulness of the moment.

    Body Scan

    A mindful body scan is simply taking stock of yourself right now. Take deep breaths and focus on one area of your body on the exhale. Many people start at their feet. Inhale, exhale, and concentrate on how your feet and ankles feel before moving onto your shins, calves, and knees. Let your breath guide you over your entire body for a full body scan. 

    People Watch

    People-watching can be a mindful activity if you do it without judgment. The objective is to let the sights go in and out of your vision, just as the tide moves to the shore, without making a judgment or coming to a conclusion.

    Any activity can be a mindfulness exercise if you choose to make it so. All you have to do is be an active part of the situation. See, hear, smell, and feel everything you can right now. Listen to conversations with your mind as well as your ears. Be a part of the life you’re living, and you are being mindful.

    DBT is effective for many emotional issues. DBT mindfulness exercises help to make it even more effective by teaching us to enjoy the moment without wishing it were different or preparing for the next. You can practice mindfulness in any situation to strengthen self-awareness, control emotions, and put the painful past and anxiety issues behind you. 

    Find Out More About the Benefits of DBT

    DBT is only one of the highly effective talk therapies for treating issues such as PTSD. The Counseling Center Group™ can help you learn how to control emotions, change behaviors, and heal from traumatic incidents. We provide therapies for groups, couples, individuals, and families. 

    The Counseling Center Group is dedicated to helping you live a life you love. We are committed to providing relatively short-term treatments to achieve positive, long-lasting results. Our therapists use structured, evidence-based methods to help you reach realistic goals efficiently – to learn more about DBT and therapy in general, contact us today. 

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    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about DBT Mindfulness Exercises

    What are DBT mindfulness exercises?

    DBT mindfulness exercises are a set of techniques used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to help individuals become more aware of the present moment, reduce stress, and improve emotional regulation.

    How can DBT mindfulness exercises benefit me?

    DBT mindfulness exercises can benefit you by promoting self-awareness, reducing anxiety and stress, enhancing emotional regulation skills, improving concentration, and fostering overall well-being.

    What are some examples of DBT mindfulness exercises?

    Some examples of DBT mindfulness exercises include mindful breathing, body scan meditation, mindful observation, loving-kindness meditation, and mindful eating.

    How do I practice mindful breathing?

    To practice mindful breathing, find a quiet and comfortable space. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Notice the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath.

    What is a body scan meditation?

    Body scan meditation involves systematically bringing attention to different parts of your body, starting from your toes and moving upward. You observe and notice any sensations, tension, or discomfort, without judgment.

    How can I incorporate mindfulness into my daily life?

    You can incorporate mindfulness into your daily life by setting aside a few minutes each day for formal mindfulness practice, integrating mindfulness into daily activities like eating or walking, and cultivating an attitude of present-moment awareness.

    Can mindfulness exercises help with managing stress?

    Yes, mindfulness exercises are effective in managing stress. They help bring your attention to the present moment, reduce rumination, and improve your ability to respond to stressors in a calm and focused manner.

    Are DBT mindfulness exercises suitable for everyone?

    DBT mindfulness exercises can be beneficial for most individuals. However, it is always recommended to consult with a qualified mental health professional to determine if these exercises are appropriate for your specific needs.

    How long do I need to practice mindfulness exercises to see benefits?

    The benefits of mindfulness exercises can be experienced even with just a few minutes of daily practice. However, regular and consistent practice over an extended period tends to yield more profound and long-lasting effects.

    Can mindfulness exercises be used as a standalone treatment?

    Mindfulness exercises can be a valuable component of a comprehensive treatment plan. While they can provide significant benefits, they are often most effective when used in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches or interventions.

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