Maybe you’ve already decided to make time during your day to bring more mindfulness into your daily life. You’ve tried it as you wash the dishes. You’ve tried it as you engage in a conversation with a friend, and you’ve even tried it by reducing your phone usage. But in all those attempts, you’ve still found yourself immersing in the mind chatter and endless list of things to do. If this has been the case for you, know that you are doing just fine. Remember that it is a process. All that matters is that you continue to show up for yourself. But if you are looking for some guidance, exercises can be powerful tools.
Mindfulness exercises can provide you with clear direction. These exercises can help you feel calmer when you feel stressed or unbalanced. Or when you need to take a moment to bring yourself back into the present moment. And with consistent practice, these exercises can be a way for you to train your mind just like you would your body.
So, if you are ready for a different way to become more mindful, here are 3 easy mindfulness exercises you can try now:
- Raisin Exercise
For some of us, it is easier to focus our attention on our sensations. For this reason, the Raisin Exercise is a perfect way to start! This exercise will encourage you to bring a sense of curiosity and appreciation to the food you eat by engaging your five senses. Once you bring presence to your food, get ready because you will begin to experience your food in a much richer way!
You can try this exercise with other types of food, but it is best to do it with raisins. If you do not have any raisins, choose a type of food that may have an unusual look or texture, and make sure it is not mixed into anything else.
- Sit down with a small plate of raisins in front of you and observe the raisins. Notice of the creases, the color, how the light hits it at different angles…
- Take a raisin and feel its texture with your fingers. How does it feel? Soft and gooey? Hard or dry?
- Trace the wrinkles with your fingers. Use both your sight and your touch as you continue to explore. Get curious about it as if it’s the first time you’ve ever seen a raisin. Maybe touch the raisin gently one time and notice how the skin reacts to that touch. Then, press it firmly to observe its reaction.
- When you feel ready, bring the raisin close to your nose. How does it smell? Is it a pleasant smell? Can you find any undertones?
- Finally, put the raisin in your mouth and pay close attention to how your tongue, saliva, and teeth interact with the raisin as it dissolves. Notice its taste and texture as it dances in your mouth. What can you taste at the beginning, the middle, and the end? What’s the most dominant taste you find? Is it sweet or salty? Can you taste anything else?
- Mindful Observation
When we are outside in nature, we notice the beauty that surrounds us because it is different from what we are used to nowadays: cars, buildings, noise, and a myriad of people… But do we really notice nature when we see it? We may see the green scenery as a whole and feel a sense of calmness, but most of the time we haven’t even explored nature with our full awareness potential. For example, have you recently stopped to look at a fallen leaf and notice its veins and colors? In only one object of nature, there is so much more to see and appreciate. All we need is to take a moment to stop and get curious. Now here’s your chance!
This exercise will help you to notice your surroundings more, no matter where you are. It will help you become a better observer, thus, an active and conscious participant in what takes place in your present moment.
- Go to your yard, the park, the beach, or wherever you feel called to go where you know you will find nature.
- Choose an object in that environment to observe. It can be a flower, a rock, a snail, an insect, a leaf. Whatever catches your attention.
- Stick with this object and observe everything there is about it. Notice all the small details and patterns.
- Breathe deeply and stay present as you observe the object. Feel how you begin to connect to it as you visually explore it.
- Do this for 1-2 minutes. If you have more time, go ahead and pick up a different object from your surroundings to observe.
- Mindful Breathing
How many times a day can we honestly say that we are aware and appreciative of our breath? Not as much, right? Most of our attention is on life situations and decisions we need to take, but stopping to notice our breath from time to time is important to bring a sense of balance and harmony in our lives. By bringing awareness to our breath, we will not only feel calmer, but it will also give us a space to look at a situation from a distance and make better decisions that can improve our lives.
Mindful breathing is a simple exercise that you can do anywhere at any time, sitting down or laying down. All you need is to choose a moment to slow down and focus on your breath.
- Close your eyes and begin by breathing in and out through your nose, making each exhale longer. Do this for a couple of breath cycles, as many as you need to ground yourself.
- Notice the temperature of your breath as it comes in and out of your nose. Does it feel cold through your nostrils as it comes in and warm as it comes out? There is no right or wrong answer. Only observe.
- Continue to bring awareness to your breath. Focus on how it travels down your body.
- If you get distracted by thoughts, it is okay. Do not try to push them away. Only note them and let them dissipate on their own as you gently bring your attention back to your breath, to where you feel it the most in your body.
- When you feel ready, begin to move the breath in your body. Send your breath first to your belly and low back for a few cycles of breath.
- Then, send your breath to your chest and upper back. Feel that whole area open up and expand.
- Finally, place your hands in your ribcage, whichever way is more comfortable to you, and begin sending your breath to the sides of your body. Notice how it opens and closes like an accordion.
- Release your hands and place them on your thighs. Stay here for a few more cycles of mindful breathing, just observing and following the breath.
If practicing mindfulness with your daily activities was a bit challenging, now you have no reason to give up or feel discouraged! These 3 easy mindfulness exercises will serve you as a clear starting point. And you can even include these exercises in your emotional toolkit and pull them out whenever you need them to help you navigate life.
Keep practicing mindfulness with these exercises, and you will see how you naturally begin to become more mindful in your daily activities. With practice and time, the awareness that has always been within you will reawaken and it will bring benefits into every aspect of your life!