This article explores very basic mindfulness exercises for one’s overall well-being. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others, and we can work wonders. If we live mindfully in everyday life, walk mindfully, and are full of love and caring, then we create a miracle and transform the world into a wonderful place.
Table of Contents
Mindfulness Exercises #1: Mindful Breathing
The following practice is considered a very basic mindfulness breathing exercise. This is something you’ll need to practice in a dedicated way, in a sacred space where you can’t be disturbed, or as a daily meditation practice. You can also perform this exercise in your everyday life: while at work, in line at the shop, speaking with friends, doing everyday chores, or falling asleep.
- Sit in a comfortable position with a straight spine, or in an order or place where the breath flow is open.
- Notice carefully the depth and pace of your breathing. Where does the airflow come into your body? Which parts of your torso remain still or closed while breathing? What is the length of every inhale, exhale, and thus the pauses between the breaths?
- Allow your abdominal diaphragm to maneuver the breath if it isn’t already. With each inhale the diaphragm curves into the belly because the lower lobes of the lungs inflate, thereby expanding the abdominal area.
You may also notice that your lower ribs are flaring front, sides, and back. The upper skeletal structure, during a full breath, also moves to the edges and back so that the skeletal structure is opening in a tubular fashion, not lifting.
There is a small lift within the upper chest toward the collarbones because the lungs inflate. On each exhale, allow the lungs to release in altogether directions. Be patient with yourself and your practice, and as many folks have locked up parts of the nose, sinuses, trachea/windpipe, lungs, diaphragm, and other associated musculature after a few years of stress. The main point is to unite the mind with each inhale and exhale of your breath.
Mindfulness Exercises #2: awareness of breath:
By witnessing each and every movement of your breath, you calm your nervous system, balance the mind, and relax the body without any judgment. These internal conditions set the stage for greater power of focus in your mindfulness practice. Furthermore, the attention to each breath gives you an ongoing focus for your mindfulness practice.
The continual movement of the breath reminds us that the mind also will still move, as will emotions and life circumstances. Remain mindful of your breathing and stay connected to every moment of your life.
Mindfulness meditation translates from a physical awareness of breath to other sensations. By attuning to ongoing physical feedback, we’ve more awareness of our everyday experiences. For people that have suffered in their bodies through chronic illness, pain, or abuse, the power to be present within the body offers excellent potential for healing on all levels: body, energy, emotions, thoughts, and spirit.
There is an excellent deal of data contained in our feelings, sensations, and emotional states. When we are mindful of the aim and messages of our feelings we will understand the way to prevent the painful experiences that cause painful, disruptive, or confused tensions and emotions.
Mindful awareness—relaxation and mastery of the story we tell ourselves is a strong tool for emotional balance. As the mind settles, issues that were below the surface are revealed in the same way that we will see into deep waters when the surface is smooth and still.
Mindfulness Exercises #3: Response versus Reaction
Think of your emotions and feelings as having two components: continuous physical sensations and thoughts. For most folks, these sensations and thoughts operate beyond our conscious awareness.
Mindfulness meditation helps us become conscious of these underlying sensations and thoughts also revealing the subtle relationship between them. This exercise allows you to witness the connection between sensations and thoughts as they occur.
Notice what arises within you throughout the method without having to gauge, explain, or change anything about your personal experience.
1: Read the next situations one at a time then pause. For each one, notice the varied sensations and thoughts that arise:
- Relaxing on a warm day
- Missing an important deadline
- Holding an infant
- Spotting a deer
- Hurting someone’s feelings
- Cooking a good meal
- Cleaning the toilet
- Floating in the ocean
2: Ask yourself, “How much of my reaction and emotions to the situation were supported by past experiences?”
Then accordingly, pay attention to the sources of your reactions, were they internal or external?, Re-read the list of all the situations with greater interest in your own mind’s activities instead of the situations themselves.
Many people will have similar reactions to every one of those situations; but, the subtleties of their experiences are unique. At first, become more mindful of your reactions, emotions, sensations, and thoughts.
In time, as you understand yourself better and become familiar with observing your internal processes, you’ll move far away from the automated reactions. Instead of operating on reflex, you’ll become more interested in your internal habits and their origins and outcomes.
In one of the most famous books Meditation for Your Life, Robert Butera recommends a four-step process to limit reactivity. This practice is often remembered by the mnemonic STAR:
- Take a breath
- Attend to sensations
- Respond rather than react
The response you select could also be to try to do nothing, to talk with awareness, or to use mindful action. The capacity to reply mindfully strengthens whenever we interrupt an automatic reaction. Mindfulness teaches us to permit feelings to be as they’re and supports us in navigating life’s upsets with grace and insight.
Besides, you’ll support your mindfulness practice through journaling, lecturing spiritually-minded friends or a meditation mentor, and seeking counseling for problematic memories and feelings.
This curiosity and thus the opportunity to process your emotions allows you greater emotional freedom and opens you to the chances of every moment. As we change the way we focus our attention, breathe, relax, and relate to our feelings, we change our neural pathways, quality of connections, and thus the shape of our brains.
(Also Read: Maintaining Mindfulness Practice)