Mindfulness is key to being happy in the fast-paced lives we live today. We can’t escape the rush, but we can control how it makes us feel. Mindfulness, an important aspect of self-care, is about being present and aware, every single moment.
Mindfulness is defined as “a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique”.
Not only is it a therapeutic technique, it is also a basic human ability, according to Mindful:
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
As you might have assumed by now, all humans are mindful, to a certain extent. But if you focus daily on being mindful, you’ll become even more mindful and you’ll begin to reap the fruits.
It’s essential for our wellbeing to take a few minutes each day to become present and achieve a positive mind-body balance. In this article, we’re going to explore some exercise to help you be mindful.
1. Wake up with awareness
Go into each new day with a heightened awareness by changing how you wake up.
First of all, on waking, sit in your bed or a chair in a relaxed posture. Close your eyes and connect with the sensations of your seated body. Take three long, deep breaths and then let your breath settle into its own rhythm.
Next, ask yourself: “What is my intention for today?”
Intention refers to the underlying motivation for everything we think, say, or do. Choosing an intention can truly help improve your wellbeing and your interactions with others.
Set your intention for the day and stick to it.
The options for intentions are endless, such as:
- I will be kind to myself
- I will give generously and stay grounded
- I’ll have fun
2. Mindful breathing
Breathing exercises are a great way to find calmness and mind-body balance. They are a quick fix, as they can be as short as 1 minute.
Here’s a breathing exercise for you:
1. Start by breathing in and out slowly. Breathe in through your nose (3 sec) and out through your mouth (5 sec).
2. Let go of your thoughts. Simply be at one with your breath.
3. Purposefully be aware of your breath. Notice how it enters your body and fills you with life.
4. Finally, notice as it works work its way up and out of your mouth, its energy dissipating into the world.
3. Observe mindfully
This simple exercise is meant to connect us with the beauty of the natural environment. This is something that is easily missed when we are rushing around, trying to keep up with our routines and to-do lists.
I challenge you to take a moment now and then to notice small things in your environment in a more profound way.
1. Start off by choosing a natural object within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or even the clouds outside your window.
2. All you have to do is notice the thing you are looking at as if you’re seeing it for the first time. Watch it for as long as your concentration allows.
Furthermore, visually explore every aspect of its formation. Allow yourself to connect with its energy and its purpose within the natural world.
4. Listening deeply and neutrally
The idea of this exercise is to listen intently. It’s designed to open your ears to sound in a non-judgmental way, and indeed to train your mind to be less influenced by preconception and the past.
So much of what we “feel” is influenced by past experience. For example, we may dislike a song because it reminds us of something negative in our past, like a breakup.
For this exercise, you have to listen to music neutrally and with a present awareness that’s unhindered by prejudice.
1. Select a song you’ve never heard before.
Try not to judge the music by its genre, title or artist name before it has begun. Instead, ignore any labels and remain neutral.
2. Close your eyes and put on your headphones.
3. Press play and listen to the song intently.
- Allow yourself to explore every aspect of the track.
- Explore the song by listening to the dynamics of each instrument, separating each sound in your mind.
- Hone in on the vocals: the sound of the voice, its range and tones.
It must be remembered to listen without judging; don’t think, just hear.
5. Appreciate daily gifts
In this exercise, all you have to do is appreciate five things in your day that you tend to overlook. Life is a gift, they say, and life itself gifts us every single moment.
These things can be objects or people.
As you go through the day, use a notepad (an actual notepad or one on your phone) to make a list of these things.
The point of this exercise is simply to slow down as you go through the motion of everyday life and to appreciate the tiny but significant things around you.
There are plenty of examples of these gifts:
- The beauty of wooden tables
- The tree you pass on the way to work
- The way shoes protect and warm your feet
- A waitress patiently serving you in your favourite restaurant
- Your cellphone working day after day
- The unique taste of tea and its warm sensation
- Those people on Facebook who keep posting optimistic statuses even though no one cares about it