In today’s world, it often feels like everyone is on autopilot. People move from place to place and accomplish tasks quickly, without much room for genuine interaction. Mindfulness is a practice that asks us to consider the alternative — stopping, waiting, connecting and listening. It’s rooted in Buddhism and has been around for thousands of years, though it seems people need mindfulness exercises now more than ever.
Mindfulness asks that you remain present in the moment and sensations around you. It can be especially difficult to focus on your surroundings when your life is busy and filled with distractions. However, mindfulness exercises help clear the clutter so you can calm down, center yourself and move through life with even more focus and precision.
While some mindfulness exercises are about pausing life to check in, some only require you to slow down and live in the moment. It works with you so you can move through life a bit healthier than before.
1. You Can Count on Your Breath
There are so many breath counting exercises that can help you become centered. Your breath is a rhythmic physical function of your body, and paying close attention to it can help you feel rooted in the present moment. Bringing your hands to your chest or diaphragm and feeling the rise and fall of your breath while you count is a great way to calm and ground yourself. You can try:
- Counting each breath one by one
- Breathing in for a count of four, then out for a count of four
- Breathing in for a count of four, then lengthening your exhale by counting to eight
- Counting each breath until you reach 10, then going backward and starting over again
You can count breaths as a meditation, or as a quick pause in your day.
2. Kick Off Your Shoes
If you want to feel grounded, how about literally touching the ground? Putting your feet on the earth outside and feeling the grass between your toes is a wonderful exercise in getting closer to nature and yourself. Notice the feeling of the ground beneath your feet and all the sensations around you. Take a moment to feel.
3. Ground in Your Surroundings
A technique often used in mindfulness therapy and other kinds of treatments for anxiety, using your surroundings to ground yourself is a way to feel centered and present. This exercise is all about noticing. All you have to do is:
- Notice five things you can see,
- Four things you can feel,
- Three things you can hear,
- Two things you can smell,
- One thing you can taste.
By taking these steps, you can quickly and easily ground yourself using your surroundings.
4. Truly Taste Everything
Do you ever find yourself rushing through dinner, watching television while you eat or forgetting your meals altogether? As a mindfulness exercise, you can try cooking, preparing and eating a meal with absolutely no distractions. Notice the feel of the ingredients, the smells that fill the kitchen and the taste of each bite. Remain fully present with your food. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it even more.
5. Fixate Your Focus
If you’re in the mood to try out some meditation, you don’t always have to close your eyes and chant om — unless, of course, you want to. For this exercise, though, all you need is a comfortable place to sit and a candle. Light the candle, and simply watch the flame flicker. Focus purely on the flame — how it moves, how it grows or any other details you notice. This can help you find focus and calm your nerves.
Journaling helps you get in touch with your internal feelings and emotions. This mindfulness activity focuses on connecting with yourself in a deeper sense than the physical. You need to be present with your mind and spend time focusing on your internal monologue. If you don’t know where to begin, there are plenty of prompts that can guide you in your writing endeavors.
7. Take a Walk
Like taking your shoes off and spending time outdoors, you can also connect with nature through movement by taking a walk with no distractions. Don’t play music, make phone calls or have conversations — simply walk and take in your surroundings. Notice the weather, the feeling of the ground on your feet and the smells all around you. Using this technique can help you feel centered, present and one with the world around you.
8. Drink It All In
Just like it’s easy to hurry through meals, it’s even easier to rush through a refreshing drink of water or a comforting cup of tea or coffee. If you’re looking to get a bit more mindful using your food and beverages, try sitting with your coffee, tea, smoothie or even water from start to finish. Notice the temperature, the taste and the sensation of the cup in your hands. Truly sit and be present with it.
9. Set an Intention
Intention setting can keep you present and mindful of your goals and attitudes throughout life. Taking a quiet moment for yourself and setting an intention each morning or at the beginning of every week can do wonders for your self-awareness and inner satisfaction. They can be as simple as thinking about how you want to feel by the end of the week.
Intention-setting is often used at the beginning of yoga sessions to bring awareness to your desires and emotions. If you practice yoga, you can try setting intentions every time you start. However, you don’t need to be in downward dog to get to know your inner desires.
10. Try Out an Attitude of Gratitude
Starting a gratitude practice is a great way to stay mindful. You can try writing a gratitude list a few times each week, or even saying things you’re grateful for out loud throughout the day. Practicing gratitude keeps you present in your life while cultivating more positivity in your thoughts and actions. It’s simple enough, but remembering to stay grateful can uplift your life in so many ways, including keeping you mindful.
Give These Mindfulness Exercises a Try
Mindfulness is all about being present with yourself, and there are so many ways you can do that. Which exercises do you plan to integrate into your life?