Five Mindfulness Exercises for Every Day
A guest article by Steve Iva of Mindmonia
If you are part of a community that regularly meditates and practices yoga, you have certainly heard the term mindfulness.
Mindfulness helps you to be more active in your everyday life. Simply put, you are mindful whenever you are not doing things on autopilot. A well-known example for an autopilot activity is the tunnel vision moment when you are driving your car on the motorway for a long time.
Yet many of us nowadays find it difficult to establish a certain routine for mindfulness in our daily lives. In this article, I will introduce you to five exercises that you can easily do every day.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a skill that everyone has. It enables you to be fully present in the here and now. When you are mindful, you are aware of where you are and what you are doing without being overwhelmed by what is happening around you.
As I mentioned above, mindfulness is a skill that all of us have. So the good thing is that you can practice and train yourself to be more mindful. You just need to learn how to get into mindfulness mode.
Five mindfulness exercises for every day
When I talk about mindfulness, I don't just mean meditation. There are a number of exercises you can do to become more mindful in your daily life. Now, I will introduce you to some of them.
01 Mindful Yoga
Yoga combines physical mindfulness with mental mindfulness. This means that, unlike meditation, you pay attention not only to your mind but also to your body.
Through the different yoga exercises and styles, you develop a natural awareness of your body. With each exercise you strengthen the connection between body and mind and gain a whole new level of mindfulness.
Here is a yoga breathing exercise (pranayama) for more mindfulness:
1. Sit in a comfortable position.
2. Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
3. Breathe in and out evenly.
4. Now change your breathing by taking long, deep breaths and exhaling briefly (in bursts).
5. Place your hand on your abdomen to feel your abdomen stretch as you breathe.
6. Repeat this breathing exercise as many times as you like, focusing on both your breath and your belly.
02 Mindful eating
For mindful eating, all you need is a fruit (or food) of your choice.
The exercise itself is relatively simple
1. Take the apple in your hand.
2. Slide your fingers over the apple.
3. Feel the smooth surface of the apple (you can also close your eyes to feel the sensation more intensely).
4. Fully concentrate on the apple and what you feel. Do not think about anything else except the apple.
5. Now bite into the apple.
6. Direct your focus to the taste of the apple that unfolds in your mouth with each bite.
7. Chew the apple carefully and consciously experience each taste. Do not let anything distract you.
8. Pay conscious attention to the taste of the apple: Does it taste sweet or rather sour?
You don't have to eat the whole apple. A few bites are enough. But what does this exercise have to do with mindfulness? It's simple: you sharpen your connection to your senses of touch and taste and experience things that you feel through these two senses more intensely and consciously.
It is perfectly normal for your mind to start wandering. If you notice it, consciously bring your attention back to the apple.
03 Mindful listening
Sit on a blanket somewhere in your favourite meadow. Close your eyes and concentrate on everything you hear: the buzzing of the bees, the rustling of the grass or the wind whistling through the treetops.
You can also deliberately pick out one sound and give it your full attention. If you want to concentrate on the wind rustling, you will block out the rest of the sounds. This is not necessarily the narrow sense of mindfulness, but it helps you to understand and target your body's natural filtering function.
04 Mindful breathing
Mindful breathing is one of the most enjoyable mindfulness exercises. All you need to do is focus on your breath. It is best to lie down or sit in a comfortable position.
1. Close your eyes, if it feels good to you. You can also do this exercise with your eyes open, just see how you find it easier.
2. Now take a deep breath and feel the cool air flowing into your chest and your belly expanding.
3. Do not hold your breath, but exhale in a relaxed way.
4. As you exhale, focus on your breath and your body again. Feel the warm breath that’s coming out of your lungs.
5. Repeat this exercise a few times. Keep focusing on your breath.
6. If you get lost in your thoughts, gently bring your attention back to your breath.
The most important thing here is not to speed up your breath or generally regulate the speed at which you breathe. Just breathe as regularly as possible. This exercise is particularly suitable when you feel stressed.
05 Meditation for more mindfulness
Meditation is by far THE mindfulness exercise. It combines certain exercises, especially breathing exercises, with specific visualisation techniques. All in all, there are different meditation exercises and styles you can use to improve your mindfulness.
Here is a guide to a mindfulness meditation on breathing – How to do it:
1. You can do this exercise sitting or lying down.
2. Close your eyes and exhale a little longer. This way you create space for a deeper inhalation.
3. Concentrate on your breath and everything you feel as you inhale and exhale.
4. Do not get lost in your thoughts. Just observe them.
5. Whenever you get lost in your thoughts, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
6. Remember that mindfulness is not about stopping your thoughts.