In this day in age, we are all about multi-tasking, multi-tabbing our browsers, and going from one thing to the next without taking much time to breathe in between. This can leave us feeling stressed, anxious, and scatter-brained. Obviously, it can be hard to function feeling this way. To ensure proper mental health, it is essential to incorporate mindfulness exercises into our day to develop mental wellbeing and a positive mind and body balance. A change in perspective can change your life…that’s where mindfulness meditation comes in.
Practicing mindfulness on a daily basis takes time and practice. Let’s get you started with these simple exercises that you can practice to bring you into the present moment and open your body and mind to new experiences and feelings.
Skills for Effective Mindfulness
Before you begin any mindfulness exercises, it is important to be aware of the skills that make up mindfulness. All of these require practice as well:
- Awareness: Being fully aware of something means that you need to be able to learn how to focus on one thing at a time. If you are a multi-tasker, this can seem like a waste of time—but it is not. Learn how to fully recognize what is going on around you. Listen to sounds and pay attention to what you see, and you will begin to notice, feel, hear, and smell things that you had no idea were around.
- Nonjudgmental Observation: As humans, we tend to judge ourselves, as well as others (sometimes unconsciously). We get into the habit of looking at things and labeling them as “good” or “bad” without much though. Mindfulness requires the skill of self-compassion and focusing on yourself and your experiences, as well as those of others, in a nonjudgmental manner.
- Being Present: Being in touch with the present moment is tough for a lot of people. If you are like me, you can get easily caught up in thinking about the past (rumination) or worry about the future. To practice being present, you need to be able to participate in experiences rather than just going through the motions of your daily routine.
- Open Mind: This is also called a “Beginner’s Mind”, which has to deal with being open to new possibilities and experiences in life. It also involves looking at things as how they really are opposed to how we evaluate them or predispose them to be.
To help you get a better grasp for mindfulness, try these simple and effective mindfulness exercises that can help benefit your mental, emotional, and physical health as well as work to strengthen your relationships with yourself and others.
Exercise 1: Meditation: Meditation is nothing new. It has been around for centuries, and is one of the most traditional and popular ways that people have gone about to achieve mindfulness. Meditation for mindfulness does not have to be hard. Simply find a place where you feel comfortable and at peace, and that is free from distractions. If you are just beginning with meditation, try out this course to start simple meditation.
Exercise #2: Breathing: Practicing mindfulness can be as simple as learning how to breathe correctly, and deep breathing exercises are a great way to start. Simple ways to perfect your breathing can help you go about your day with ease and comfort. All you need to do is:
- Focus on breathing from your belly instead of from your chest.
- Aim to breathe in through your nose and out of your mouth.
- Pay attention to the sound and rhythm of your breath. Be aware of this especially if you become upset, because by being mindful of your emotions, you can change your breathing to stay grounded if you are faced with a tense moment or event.
Exercise #3: Music: Music can really work to shift your focus and help you focus. Most people are not aware that there is such a thing as music therapy, which involves music being used in a therapeutic way to help people stay calm, relaxed, and ease their emotion or anxious feelings. Listening and focusing on music can be a great mindful exercises because it enables a person to be clam and encourages them to focus on the music rather than their own thoughts. You can choose any type of music that resonates well with you, such as: new age music, classical music, or a different slow-tempo type music. If you start feeling stressed or anxious, just remember to focus back on the music and the tempo to help you stay in the moment.
Exercise #4: Cleaning House: This exercise has both a literal and figurative meaning. Cleaning house can actually mean cleaning your house, but, cleaning house can also incorporate letting go of any emotional baggage that you are carrying that is no longer benefiting you or having a negative impact on your life. Both cleaning your home and cleaning your life can help you relieve stress and free your mind. Clutter can provide a lot of stress for most people, and this mindful exercise is meant to help an individual develop a self understanding and stress relieve them at the same time. A great thing about cleaning is that it allows you to focus on cleaning and cleaning alone.
- Do not view or think of cleaning as a chore.
- Focus on the things you are cleaning with and how you are using your hands. For instance, feel the vibrations of the vacuum, immerse your fingers in the soapy water, and envelop yourself in the warmth of the laundry that you fold.
By incorporating mindfulness into little chores such as these, it can help you develop your mindfulness into an everyday occurrence and activity that you will get used to practicing.
Exercise #5: Observe your thoughts: If you thought mindfulness had more to do with straying away from your thoughts, this is not entirely true. Mindfulness encourages focusing on your thoughts, feelings, and emotions to keep you in the present. A lot of people try to do things to not focus on their thoughts; however, there could be a lot of issues that they need to address. Instead of ignoring or working against the voices inside your head, consider observing your thoughts – but do not become involved in them. The key to this is to look from the outside in. By doing this, you might find that your mind becomes less stressful. If getting certain thoughts out of your head seems therapeutic to you, consider journaling or keeping a diary. Writing out your thoughts can help decrease their intensity or magnitude. A lot of things that you might be worrying or thinking about may be a lot simpler than you think.
Exercise #6: Develop your own: There is no “right” mindfulness exercise to practice. Mindfulness exercises can work differently for each person, and the key is to find the mindfulness exercise that is going to work best for you. The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be applied to almost anything that you do. So consider implementing mindfulness into your daily activities, no matter how big or small, and see how these exercises can make you feel more grounded and at peace.
Mindfulness takes practice, patience, and persistence. But as long as you put in the effort to practice mindfulness, you will be able to see the mind and body benefits that it has to offer. Remember to try to practice mindfulness in things that you do on a daily basis. To help take your inner growth to the next level, enroll in this course on meditation and mindfulness taught by a certified psychotherapist to help you reach mindfulness in 7 lessons.