There are three “What” skills for when practicing mindfulness.
When mindfully observing, we want to observe just the facts through our senses. To notice, acknowledge and then let go. Aim not to hold onto, or avoid, what is being observed; nor do we want to judge or put value to our experience. Simple observe with a “Teflon mind.” Observe what is around you as well as your thoughts, emotions, sensations and urges.
When mindfully observing, use words to describe the experience and awareness of what is observed with the five senses. If we cannot observe it, we cannot describe it. Stick to the facts. By mindfully observing we can be more aware of what is happening inside of us and outside of us.
When mindfully participating, it allows us to be fully engaged within an experience. It is throwing one’s self in an activity, nonjudgmentally, and one-mindfully. Fully experience what you are doing and with whomever you may be with. Experience what is actually happening, not what you would have liked to have been happening. Be mindfully present in the here and now.
These three core mindfulness “what” skills are to be done one at a time. One cannot be mindfully observing if they are simultaneously describing. It can often be confused for being able to do two things at once, though it will not be effective. First observe, then describe. Participate, then describe. These skills used one at a time while being non-judgmental, one-mindful, and effective will increase one’s goal of reducing suffering, increasing happiness, increasing control of one’s mind, and experiencing reality as it is.