Mindfulness - Exercises & Resources
Meditation = the key to Mindfulness. Every day we confront numerous distractions but meditations helps center ourselves - allowing us to focus within. Begin by concentrating on your breath. Breath in slowly through your nose and out slowly through your mouth. Your pace should be relaxing and feel comfortable. Once you feel your body entering a calm state start to let go of your thoughts. Your goal is to live in just the present moment - to not allow your thoughts to focus on the past or the future. But to focus on here and now. Just be present.
Remember: Mindfulness - is being present. Slowing down our active lives to simply be aware of here and now. Mindful walking is a basic but effective why of learning awareness. Here is how you do it:
Slow down your movements. Become aware of every movement you have to make in order to walk. Mentally label each movement. While slowly lifting your foot focus and repeat in your mind "lifting, lifting". While moving your foot forward recite, "moving, moving" and then as you bring it down, mentally recite "dropping, dropping". Then you repeat the same technique for the other foot. Speed doesn't mean mastery here. In fact, the slower you go, the better your concentration will probably be.
Reflect on Your Thoughts
This exercise is a staple of mindfulness, designed to simply enhance your awareness of your own thoughts. To begin, while in a comfortable position, try to let all tension in your body dissipate. Focus on your breathing first, then move your awareness to what it feels like to be in your body, and finally move on to your thoughts. Be aware of what comes into your head, but resist the urge to label or judge these thoughts. Think of them as a passing cloud in the sky of your mind.
BE HERE, now
This great exercise comes from the well-known spiritual teacher, Ram Dass.
We should ask ourselves: Where am I?
Then ask ourselves: What time is it?
We should keep repeating the questions and answers to ourselves until we really feel it. Keep repeating until you really feel grounded in present moment reality. BE HERE, now.
5 Senses Exercise
The 5 Senses Exercise teaches guidelines on practicing mindfulness no matter where you are:
Notice five things around you that you can see — Look around you and bring your attention to five things that you can see. Try to pick something your wouldn’t normally focus on: a blade of grass, a shadow of a building, ect.
Notice four things around you that you can feel — Become aware of four things that you can currently feel. Then breeze outside, the sun on your skin, the texture of your seat, the feel of the surface where your hands are resting.
Notice three things you can hear — Now take a moment to pay attention to the sounds around you: a passing car, the sound of your shoes hitting the pavement, the hum of the car.
Notice two things you can smell — Bring your awareness to smells that you usually filter out, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant.
Notice one thing you can taste
Doing this exercise can bring you into a mindful state very quickly and easily.
Notice 5 things in your day that usually go unappreciated. These things can be objects or people; up to you. Use a notepad to check off 5 by the end of the day.
The point of this exercise is to simply give thanks and appreciate the seemingly insignificant things in life, the things that support our existence but rarely get a second thought amidst our desire for bigger and better things.
Many of us enjoy listening to music while we work, drive, exercise or do house chores. But without noticing it, it may actually become another distraction for our mind and become an obstacle to developing any present moment awareness. In fact, when we practice mindfulness properly, the inner peace and stillness that springs from our attention to the activity creates a lasting joy. One that can surpasses the joy of listening to music and making our minds distracted. With this exercise, simply set the goal to be completely engaged in what you are doing. Turn off the background music and give the task our full attention. In fact, there is no activity that is not worthy of our attention or appreciation.