This article on mindfulness exercise explores the key concepts of the term Mindfulness, and we will also give you an in-depth overview of how you can start with your Mindfulness practice with a step-by-step easy to follow guide.
MINDFULNESS IS SUCH AN ORDINARY word. It doesn’t have the spiritual cachet of words like wisdom or compassion or love, and only in recent times has it entered the lexicon of common usage. Growing up, I had never even heard the word. It started with meditation retreats introducing the concept—and the practice—to an ever-increasing number of people.
Also Read: A GUIDED MEDITATION FOR HEALING
Mindfulness Worksheets PDF
It isn’t necessary to be mindful in all your waking hours, but unless you make a concerted effort to be mindful daily it’s easy to get distracted by myriad things that divert your attention throughout the day.
Occasional attempts at ‘being in the moment or to ‘notice the little things more’ and ‘live in the now’ are well-meaning, but distractions and preoccupations take over and resolutions to be more mindful fall by the wayside.
What to do? You need to make mindfulness a habit, something that you do regularly until it becomes your normal practice.
Your mind can do this!
Establishing new ways of thinking and doing is not difficult, provided the new ways are constantly repeated. How come? When you think or do something in a new way, you create new connections, or neural pathways, in your brain. Then, every time you repeat that thought or action, every time you continue using these new pathways, they become stronger and more established.
It’s like walking through a field of long grass, each step helps to create a new path, and every time you walk that new path you establish a clear route that becomes easier to use each time. It becomes a habit to use that route.
Since your distracted and preoccupied mind isn’t going to remind you to be mindful, you need something else to remind you.
Mindfulness Worksheets PDF by Positive psychology, Download here:
What is it with mindfulness? Or, what is mindful practice?
Why is there such interest, such a buzz, around mindfulness?
Too often, life zips by. There’s no time to experience what’s happening now because you’re busy thinking about what needs doing tomorrow, or you’re caught up with thoughts about what did or didn’t happen yesterday. Your mind is chattering with commentary or judgment.
But thinking is not the enemy. It’s essential to your life. Your mind can think back and reflect on past events and experiences and learn from those experiences, and you can reflect with pleasure on the good times. Your mind can also think about the future. It can plan and look forward to forthcoming events.
This ability to think back to the past and forward to the future is not, though, always a blessing. Your mind’s ability to project backward and forwards means that you can get stuck in the past, going back over and dwelling on events. You can also be paralyzed by worries and anxiety about the future.
Mindfulness is a way to have a more helpful relationship with this thinking, to recognize when your thoughts are being unhelpfully dragged back to the past or catapulted into the future. Mindfulness is about knowing where you are (being in the moment) but also having an awareness of – but not getting stuck in – where you have been (reflection) and where you are going (anticipating).
But how can mindfulness be helpful in your everyday life – as you go to and from work, in your job, with your family and friends, with cooking and eating, and even sleeping?
Many of us work in a fast-paced, stressful world, dealing with a flood of information including email, meetings, text messages, phone calls, interruptions, and distractions at work. Family life can also be fast-paced and stressful – managing a job, a home, and the variety of demands as you try to meet everyone’s needs and your commitments. Thinking about what needs doing and what you didn’t do, getting frustrated, stressed, and anxious.
Unfortunately, a good part of our time passes that way for most of us. We’re in one place doing one thing but thinking of things we aren’t doing and places we aren’t at.
It’s easy to stop noticing what’s going on within you and around you – your surroundings and other people – and to end up living in your head, caught up in your thoughts without being aware of how those thoughts are controlling what you feel and do. It’s easy to waste ‘now’ time, missing what is happening in the only moment that exists.
Mindfulness enables you to experience and appreciates your life instead of rushing through it, constantly trying to be somewhere else. Mindfulness is not another set of instructions. Mindfulness is simply a shift in your awareness of your life – your routines and habits, work, and relationships.
‘Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.’ – Arthur Ashe
If you can be present and in the moment sitting in a quiet room then why not when you’re eating a meal, drinking a cup of tea, traveling to and from your job, being at work, working at the computer, or in your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues?
How to Practice Mindfulness?
There are many ways in which you can practice mindfulness and many ways in which you can anchor yourself to any given moment.
Throughout this article, you will come across five mindfulness exercises with recurring themes that are mentioned below:
- Mindful qualities.
- Mindful work.
- Mindful body and mind.
- Mindful relationships.
- Mindful eating.
Mindfulness Anxiety Exercise?
Within each mindfulness exercise, you’ll find a particular situation or circumstance where mindfulness is useful and where there are opportunities to be mindful. Alongside this, you will find practical ways – ideas, tips, techniques, and suggestions – to be mindful and to use mindfulness.
You’ll see that the aspects and qualities of mindfulness – awareness, acknowledgment and acceptance, focus and engagement, beginner’s mind, letting go, and being non-judgemental – are both separate themes with their pages and principles that appear throughout this article. Each time you apply these principles, each time you apply an aspect of mindfulness, you are learning how to relate more directly to your life.
Whether you need tips, techniques, ideas, and suggestions or just a simple quote to inspire you, this article on mindfulness exercises will help. Bookmark this article or website to get inspired whenever or wherever you will need mindfulness to help slow things down, provide perspective, and a sense of calm control at the moment and moments of your life.
‘Habit is a cable; we weave a thread each day, and at last, we cannot break it.’ – Horace Mann
Mindfulness Exercises: The Concept and The Practice
Mindfulness Exercise #1: Stop and Smell the Roses
TIME: 15 Minutes
Many of the mindfulness practices in this article focus on the senses of feeling, hearing, and thinking. But your sense of smell is an especially powerful connection to your mind. When you smell something, a signal is sent directly into the neocortex and limbic system, making it a powerful trigger for inducing memories, emotions, and thoughts.
This mindfulness exercise will give you a framework for investigating the sense of smell more deeply in your life.
Mindfulness Exercise #1 Steps:
- Find a place to walk where you can spend 15 minutes outside. It may be in a park, around your neighborhood, or out on a trail.
- Begin with a moment to ground yourself in the present. Focus on mindfulness of the external world. Rather than focusing on the body, open your eyes, listen to the sounds, and recognize where you are.
- Begin walking mindfully. It can be helpful to walk slower than you normally do. Stay in tune with the world around you.
- When you see something natural that may have a scent, pause and smell it. It may be a flower, an herb, a plant, or the smell of the ground after the rain. As you are smelling, close your eyes and bring your full awareness to the aroma. Immerse yourself in the experience by making the sense of smell the sole focus of your attention.
- After a few moments of this, leave it be and continue walking. When you come across another aromatic object, stop and smell it with presence. Stay curious and open. This practice is different from working with other senses because you have to intentionally smell something rather than just observe.
- When you are done with your walk, try to remember this practice throughout the day. Whether you’re eating a meal, drinking tea, or driving home, tune in to the smells that come and go. Observe your reactions to these, as we often have strong positive or negative reactions to scents.
Mindfulness Exercise #2: Bedtime Mindfulness
TIME: 10 Minutes
You may have woven mindfulness practice into your day—but as soon as you lie down in bed, you notice the mind beginning to race. As you settle down for the evening, the mind may not always read the situation accurately. With the stimuli of daily life over, the mind can seem louder than usual.
This mindfulness exercise can be used in these moments to help settle the mind and body as you prepare for sleep.
Mindfulness Exercise #2 Steps:
- Standing next to your bed, take a few deep breaths. Center yourself in the present moment, bringing your awareness to the body as it is right now.
- When you climb into bed, remain aware of what is occurring in the body. As you lie down, feel the body assume a resting position.
- Use the breath to bring mindfulness to the body and cultivate relaxation. As you breathe in, feel the lungs fill with air. When you exhale, feel the body soften into your mattress. Picture yourself falling deeper into the mattress as the body relaxes with each exhales.
- Start a body scan at the top of the head, moving down the body to the toes. As your attention rests on each part, relax it and soften into the bed with every exhale.
- When you reach your toes, return to the body as a whole and the practice of breathing deeply. Continue softening.
Mindfulness Exercise #3: Accentuate the Positive
TIME: 5 Minutes
Dr. Rick Hanson, the esteemed psychologist and mindfulness teacher, points out that the brain has a negativity bias. The mind naturally clings to unpleasant experiences to “brace” you and protect you from danger. By actively seeking out moments of joy, you encourage the brain to shift that bias.
As the saying goes, what you put your attention on grows—if you look for pleasant experiences, you will find them. In this exercise, you will work to bring intentional mindfulness to the positive moments of your day.
Mindfulness Exercise #3 Steps:
- Start your day to find good things; be a hunter on the lookout for something that brings you happiness.
- When you notice anything that makes you happy—whether it’s making it through a green light or calling an old friend—fully take it at the moment. First, notice your mental state. Try to identify what the experience is in the mind: calmness, relaxation, contentment, satisfaction, and so on.
- Next, bring your awareness to the body. Focus on the chest, abdomen, and shoulders. Notice any feelings of ease in the body, openness, or relief from tension. As you breathe, make space to feel the happiness all over.
- Without clinging to the feeling, try to stay in tune with the experience. Let the feelings fade naturally and notice when they have left.
- Remain open during your day to other joys you may experience. Remember, they do not have to be grand moments of elation. You can use subtle moments of contentment and ease.
Mindfulness Exercise #4: People Are People
TIME: 5 Minutes
Mindfulness is not just a quality you bring to your own body and mind; it’s also possible to tune in to those around us with mindfulness. This is called external mindfulness, and it is an important part of the practice.
When you see another person, do you see them as a three-dimensional being? Or do you label them as “checkout clerk,” “soccer mom,” or “annoying co-worker”? With this mindfulness exercise, you can train the mind to objectively see other people as humans— just like you.
Mindfulness Exercise #4 Steps:
- Engage in this exercise when you are in the presence of other people. You can spend a few minutes with this practice at work, in the grocery store, or sitting on a park bench. It works best to start with people you don’t know that much about, so I recommend a public place. As you practice, take it up a notch by applying this to your loved ones.
- When you see someone else, notice the label the mind habitually gives that person. Notice if you find the person attractive, what their job or role is, or any other snap judgments. Don’t force anything down or deny the presence of these thoughts—your mind is designed to categorize and label things, and we all judge other people. Just notice whatever is present.
- Begin to observe this person with a beginner’s mind, as if you’ve never seen a person before. Start to see them as living, breathing, and feeling beings. Recognize that this person has friends, a job, a place they need to be in five minutes, and so on. This person loves people and has people who love them.
- Bring awareness to this person’s possible experience. Like you, they have hopes, dreams, fears, sorrows, regrets, and joy. You don’t need to know this person’s whole life story to be sure that they are subject to pleasant and unpleasant emotional experiences.
- End your practice with this person by offering a single phrase of lovingkindness, such as “May you be happy today.”
- You can continue this practice with other people you run into during your day. Take just a few moments to reflect, recognize, and offer a phrase of loving-kindness.
Mindfulness Exercise #5: What Are You Waiting for?
TIME: 10 Minutes
Waiting is an unavoidable fact of life. Often when we’re waiting— in traffic, at the DMV, for our food to arrive—we grow impatient or frustrated. We focus entirely on getting to the front of the line and completing the task. In these moments when you have nothing to do but wait, you have a perfect opportunity to practice and encourage mindfulness.
Mindfulness Exercise #5 Steps:
- Begin this practice whenever you are waiting during your day. Whether you’re physically waiting in line or waiting on hold on the telephone, use the experience of waiting as your cue to practice.
- Pay attention to what it is you are waiting for. You are likely waiting for something specific. Bring this to mind, recognizing the nature of the experience.
- Check in to see if there is any impatience or frustration present with the waiting. Watch for the energy in the body that results in fidgeting or the urge to take your cell phone out of your pocket. If you feel the energy of impatience, soften into it and allow it to be present.
- Feel the feet flat on the floor. Gently scan the body from the ground up, bringing awareness to each part of the body for one breath. Use the body scan to stay present, noticing any difficulties that arise.
- When you move forward in line or get to the end, continue practicing mindfulness of the body. Notice if the body relaxes or gets excited when you get toward the front of the line. See how the body feels when you finish the task and have the waiting behind you.
Related: Mindfulness Exercises: See How Mindfulness Helps You Live in The Moment
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