Mindfulness exercises are a great way to unwind, a great stress relieving tool that you can use anytime. You can fit these techniques into your everyday life while walking to work or doing chores. Studies have found that mindfulness has countless benefits, including reducing depression and increasing creativity. In this article, we are going to discuss more about mindfulness and the meditation exercises you can practice to recover mastery over your feelings and your thoughts.
What Is Mindfulness?
Before we reveal our favorite mindfulness exercises, let’s talk some more about mindfulness. It is defined as the human ability to be perfectly aware of who and where we are, what we are doing, focusing only on the present moment. Mindfulness is about calmly accepting our feelings and thoughts, and it is used as a therapeutic procedure.
When we practice mindfulness exercises, our thoughts do not drift towards the past or the future. Instead, we are fully in tune with that we are feeling, sensing, and thinking right in the present moment. There is no “right” or “wrong” in mindfulness. Consequently, it means acceptance, paying attention and giving in to our feelings without being judgmental about the way we are thinking.
Mindfulness is linked to the Buddhist art of meditation, but people are raving about this secular practice more and more nowadays. And it’s no wonder it’s becoming a popular practice.
What Are the Benefits of Mindfulness Exercises?
While some skeptics may find it hard to believe, studies have indeed shown that practicing mindfulness exercises can bring plenty of advantages, spanning from physical to social benefits. Some of the most important benefits include:
- Boosting the immune system. Mindfulness can help us fight off certain diseases and health conditions by altering our immune functions in a positive way.
- Increasing positive emotions. Another study has found that people who practice mindfulness have a reduced level of stress and negative emotions. It can also be used as an alternative antidepressant in diminishing depression and relapses.
- Improving memory. In our day and age, it quite easy to find distractions, lose focus and experience memory loss. Luckily, mindfulness exercises can help with all that. Researchers have found that practicing this type of meditation can improve our memory and promote the ability to sustain attention.
- Fighting obesity. Do you want to find peace with yourself and lose a few pounds in the process? It is all doable by simply implementing mindfulness techniques. It has been discovered that mindful eating helps people lose weight by encouraging healthier habits and savoring food.
- Enhancing relationships. If you’re having problems in your love life, then practicing mindfulness may help improve your relationship. Scientists suggest that it can make couples feel more satisfied with their relationship. Mindfulness can bring two people closer to one another by boosting optimism and acceptance.
If you are looking to bring these, and plenty of other benefits into your life, then let’s get started with the most effective mindfulness exercises.
5 Mindfulness Exercises to Improve Well-Being
1. Mindful breathing
Find a comfy place to sit and put your feet flat on the ground. Straighten your posture and close your eyes. Breath naturally, paying attention to your breathing. Rest your hand on your belly and have the fingertips of each hand gently touching in the middle.
Continue to breathe in smoothly, inhaling through your nose and exhaling slowly through the mouth. As you breathe in, you will notice how your belly pushes the hands slightly apart. When you breathe out, your belly sinks back as you release air.
Continue to practice this kind of gently inhalation and exhalation. If thoughts and images start coming into your mind, try to not give into them and continue to pay attention to the way you breathe.
Some may also experience physical sensations. Notice them, but do bring your mind back to mindful breathing. Do not analyze your thoughts, feelings, or sensations in this moment. It’s likely for the mind to wander, but if we want to improve our focus, we must always bring our attention back to breathing.
You can practice this mindfulness technique for as long as you like.
2. Body scan
Lie down on your bed or another comfy place and close your eyes. You may start feeling sleepy but try to remain alert and keep your mind in the present moment. Let your shoulders drop and breath naturally, just as explained in the first exercise. Bring your attention to the way you breathe, for now.
You will start to feel both physical and mental sensations and feelings. Our mind is generally used to labeling them as good or bad. However, try to notice what you feel without any sort of judgment.
Continue to breathe naturally, without changing the pace. Bring your awareness to the surroundings, particularly to where your body makes contact with the bed (or another surface). With each out breath, let yourself sink a little deeper into that surface. Scan your feet for sensations, noticing and allowing them to exist. Continue to scan your inferior limbs, working your way up towards the thighs.
It’s okay if you don’t feel anything. But if you do, and you notice a certain tension, then see if you can simply breathe in to it.
You mind will wander off from the breath and the body without a doubt. However, as you acknowledge it, return your attention to your body. Moving forward, switch your focus from the legs onto the stomach. Feel the way it rises as you breathe in and how it sinks as you exhale.
Now start scanning your right hand and arm for sensations. Then come back to the chest area. Continue with the neck and the face. Then bring your awareness to the head. As you finish scanning your whole body, notice how all of you is now connected. Continue to focus on your breathing, and slowly open your eyes when you are ready.
3. Mindful observation
This is one of the simplest mindfulness exercises you will find. Nonetheless, it is incredibly powerful. The aim of this technique is to connect us with the natural environment. In today’s society, we often neglect the organic entities surrounding us.
Choose a natural object nearby and focus on it for a couple of minutes. It could be a plant or an insect or animal, but you can also bring your attention to the clouds, the sun, or the moon.
Relax and notice what you’re looking at without doing anything else. Explore it as if it were the first time seeing such a thing. Try to connect yourself with its energy and its purpose in our world, consumed by its presence.
4. Mindful immersion
This mindfulness exercise will cultivate a sense of happiness and satisfaction in the present moment. We are often caught up in our daily chores, anxiously waiting to finish each task to move on to something else. Instead of viewing our everyday routines the way we are used to, we must take experience each action like never before.
Let’s say that you are cleaning your room. Pay attention to all the details relating to this activity. Don’t treat this as just another frequent, annoying chore. Create new experiences by observing every aspect of your movement. The goal of this mindfulness technique is to help you become more creative and to discover new ways to perform routine tasks more efficiently.
Instead of constantly thinking about finishing your chores, become aware of your actions and immerse yourself in them. You may even learn to enjoy certain tasks that are otherwise quite unpleasant.
5. Walking mindfulness
This exercise will have both your mind and body moving. You can do it inside your home, your yard, or the park. It would be great if you can take off your shoes for this one. First, stay still, in full awareness of your body. Feel it connect to the ground or the floor. Become one with the surroundings by taking in all the elements: smell, sound, taste, and any other sensation. Notice your feelings and thoughts without trying to ignore or change them. Notice your breath and do not try to change this either.
As you continue with the exercise, shift your weight to your left leg as you lift the right one. Move it forward and place it back down. Now do the same with the right leg. Slowly walk in this way, paying attention to any sensation in the soles of your feet. Walk with awareness for about 14 steps, then return to your starting place. Be still and appreciate the time spent practicing mindful walking.
Try to introduce these techniques into your everyday life. They are simple enough for anyone to try, and will also not take too much of your time. In as little as a few minutes, a whole new world can open up for you. These five methods will help you experience a better state of mind, revealing who you really are by creating self-awareness. Tell us what worked for you, and how did mindful exercises change your state of mind.