The final piece to this puzzle I have been blogging about (The Happiness Trap) is called connection. This is the final and biggest step in this journey on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).
This step focuses on the mindfulness aspect of the therapy. Mindfulness, in short, is being present in the now.
Think about what you are doing right now. For example, while I am writing this blog, I am waiting for the oven to finish cooking my lunch, wondering what the hell my dogs are barking at, watching Game of Thrones (Season 6, Episode 4, to be specific), and writing this. In the practice of mindfulness, I would be devoting all of my attention to one task fully and presently.
But we don’t do that on a regular basis. We have a lot going on in our lives and, quite simply, we don’t have the time to do this at all times. ACT isn’t asking you to do this all the time though. It asks you do do it a few times as an exercise in keeping present.
Don’t think about the past or the future. Focus on the here and now. Take a moment to look at your surroundings. Think about what is going on. Notice that cobweb hanging from the ceiling even though you just cleaned (damnit). Notice the color of the coffee table in front of you, the color of the books on the shelves. Think of nothing but being in the room you are in. Don’t think about cleaning that cobweb. Don’t think about what the books are about or where you bought the coffee table. Just take a few minutes and observe.
I’m betting that you didn’t realize all that was going on around you until you anchored yourself in your surroundings.
Try connecting with pleasant and unpleasant tasks alike. I hate unloading the dishwasher. I would rather clean the toilet. So, instead of focusing on how much I hate the task, I simply do it, observing the water that gathered on the tops of the mugs. I listen to the clink of plates as I stack them. I see the color of the cups as I put them back in the cabinet.
Doing this helps to keep you in the present and turn your brain off a bit. This will also help you disengage with your unpleasant feelings and thoughts…with a bunch of practice, of course!