If you are trying to develop a habit of being more mindful in your life, it can be helpful to engage in some regular activities that promote mindfulness and teach you how to pay attention in this particular way to your present.
Mindfulness exercises are meant to help you practice being engaged in the moment. Take these and customize them to fit your life and needs. Use them as inspiration to find what works best for you. And pick only those that make sense and feel right for you.
40 Mindfulness Exercise and Activities
1. Breathing Mindfully
One of the most popular and well-known mindfulness exercises in breathing. You can practice this just about anywhere you are or whenever you want. For one minute, sit or stand still and focus solely on your intake and exhale of breath.
Breathe purposefully, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Think of your breath, and if other thoughts enter your mind, notice them but then return to focus solely on your breath.
Consider how your breathing makes you feel, how it fills your body, and how you are renewed with energy with each cycle. After one minute, stop and return to your day with a renewed focus.
2. Meditative Walking
If you are able to walk undisturbed for at least ten minutes in your day, you can practice mindfulness while walking. As you walk, practice your ability to focus on just this activity. Notice your feet touching the ground.
Notice how the exercise makes your body feel. Or concentrate solely on the sounds of nature wherever you are. Whatever you chose to focus on, the key is a practice relaxed attention to that one thing.
3. Become Mindful While Eating
We all eat every day. When was the last time you actually paid attention throughout an entire meal? With every bite, focus on the taste of your food. Notice the smells of what you are eating. Focus just on the act of eating, nothing else.
4. Mindful Cleaning
Every act you do can be done mindfully, and this includes cleaning. Getting rid of clutter or cleaning up a mess can help relieve stress and allow you to feel accomplished. While cleaning, practice staying focused solely on the task at hand.
Whether you are washing dishes, folding laundry, or running the vacuum, notice all the sensations you experience from this task and how it makes you feel.
5. Observing Mindfully
Connecting with your environment is one way to become more mindful. We often miss out on the natural beauty that surrounds us in our daily lives. Start by going outdoors and finding something interesting or beautiful in nature to observe.
Focus on that object for two minutes. Notice all of its characteristics and how it interacts with its surroundings. Relax and focus intently just on that one, natural object, becoming mindfully aware of its existence and purpose in this world.
6. Becoming Mindful of Routine
Just like the exercise on mindful cleaning, there are other daily tasks and routines you do all the time but probably pay little or no attention to while you are doing them. Making your bed, cooking dinner, sorting the mail, or taking out the trash are things we do on autopilot, but you can turn them into opportunities to practice mindfulness.
Focus solely on that task. Become aware of all the sensations associated with it. Attend to only that task while you are engaged in it.
7. Candlelight Meditation
This mediation is relaxing as well as promotes mindfulness. Sit in a darkened room and focus on the flame of a candle. Notice the way the fire behaves, concentrate on nothing but the flame, and become mindful only of the sensations this activity evokes inside you. Focus for up to five minutes on your candle.
8. Be More Mindful at Meetings
If your job involves participating in meetings, you are probably aware of how mentally and physically draining these can be. Why not practice your mindfulness? During a meeting, focus on your own reaction to others’ or to the work being discussed.
Or, concentrate on how you can offer positive input or feedback to others throughout the meeting. Find one aspect you would like to work toward and remain focused on this throughout your session to practice being more mindful in your work.
9. Listen Mindfully
We have many preconceived notions and ideas that we associate with sounds, voices, music, and noises. You can become learn to listen more mindfully with this exercise, to help you recognize when your judgment is clouding how you are able to hear things. Select a song you’ve never heard before.
After putting in earbuds, close your eyes and truly listen to the music, pushing away any thoughts you have about what you already know based on the artist, genre, or title. Just listen. Explore the song with an open mind and non-judgmental ears. Listen for the individual instruments, to the words in the vocals.
Explore how the music changes your emotions, the impact of it on your heartbeat and breathing. Focus solely on this song for its entire duration without thinking about anything but listening.
10. Learn to Hear the World
Learning to listen to your environment mindfully is another useful exercise. For two minutes, do nothing but listen to the sounds of where you are. Can you hear people, traffic, nature? Focus just on what you hear, no other thoughts. Allow the sounds to enter your mind and flow over you.
11. Complete a Sun Salutation
Yoga is meditative and can promote mindfulness because it is based on routines. The sun salutation, for example, is performed in the same way each time you practice. Perform a short yoga practice with a few rounds of your sun salutation. Focus just on your movements, being mindful of how your practice makes your body feel. Or focus intently just on your breath as you complete the series of movements.
12. Meditate in the Shower
As a daily routine, showering is something most of us do on autopilot. Why not turn this time into a mindfulness exercise. While the warm water flows over you, focus on how your body feels, how the steam feels as you breathe in and out, how your mind and body relax during the experience. Be more thoughtful while you shower to start your day on in a mindful way.
13. Start Your Day with Mindfulness
Start your day each day by focusing intently on those things for which you are grateful. By concentrating on your gratitude, you train your mind toward a more favorable disposition. Plus, as you focus solely on your blessings, you build in mindfulness practice, as well.
Whether you choose to just simply sit and ponder your gratitude or keep a gratitude journal is up to you. The point is the intentional focus on the positive aspects of your life.
14. Thought Observation
There may be times when pushing your distracting thoughts aside or trying to focus on one thing can seem impossible. That’s okay. You can practice mindfulness even in this situation. Instead of trying to tame the stream of thoughts, sit back on observe them.
Don’t become engaged or involved with them. Instead, simply notice them all. As you make note of each, turn your attention to the next.
Soon, you will likely realize that the freight train of consciousness is slowing. You may also wish to journal about what you noticed as a way to process the more stubborn thoughts that continue to arise.
Many people find the conscious act of morning journaling to be extremely helpful for starting their day. Plus, when you journal with intention and focus, you are actually working on mindfulness, as well.
Start by sitting down with a journal and writing, without stopping, for three minutes straight. No matter what happens, do not stop writing. This type of stream of consciousness exercise is a way to release worries, set intention for the day, and can be helpful when identifying patterns, you think need to be addressed later.
16. Set Your Intention Each Day
Instead of creating a plan for each day, focus instead of what you intend to do. Begin each morning with five minutes where you consider all the things you have the will, determination, and resolve to accomplish.
These are not just things you “need” to do, these are the things you want and intend to do. These actions are prioritized in your mind and become much more likely to happen when you start with this type of focus.
17. Outdoor Mindfulness
Take your mindfulness practice outside with this exercise. Find a green space you enjoy. Whether you choose to walk or sit, take at least ten minutes to focus intently on the natural sights and sounds. While focusing solely on the present moment, notice how the sun feels on your skin, how the wind moves the trees, how the grass feels beneath your feet. Focus only on the input of the natural world and how your senses are perceiving your environment. When your mind wanders, return your focus with intention to where and when you are in this space.
18. Meditate as a Family
When you start yourself and your children off each day with a short meditation practice, you will all notice improvements in your day. When you share such mindfulness practices with one another, you will also notice how your relationships improve.
When you teach your children to improve their focus, and you model this positive behavior for them, you help them develop confidence, positivity, and empathy.
19. Use a Guided Sleep Meditation
If you are not comfortable leading your own meditation practice, consider using a guided method. If you have trouble falling asleep, guided relaxation meditation can be extremely helpful.
A recorded voice guides your meditation as you become more relaxed and are able to enter into sleep. There are many excellent apps for your mobile phone that include guided meditation exercises for sleep and other purposes. Consider ending your day with this mindful practice that helps you focus on your need for rest and relaxation.
20. Be Mindful of Your Body
Try this exercise to become more mindful of your body and its needs. Start by sitting or lying comfortably. Start at your toes and slowing work your way up your body, focusing on how each part of your body currently feels.
Pay close attention to where you are feeling tension or pain as well as where you are feeling relaxed. Once you’ve made it all the way to your head, you can return to your normal day, paying special attention to those areas that maybe need stretching, exercise, or some TLC to help you feel better.
21. Repeat Affirmations
Start your day by repeating positive affirmations. These phrases exemplify who and what you want to be and are phrased in the present tense, as if they are already happening.
By saying these phrases aloud to yourself, you create the mindset necessary to achieve your goals, plus you return your focus on your goals each morning. Practicing positive affirmations with intention and focus is another way to be mindful in your daily practice.
22. Practice Mindfulness Throughout Your Day
When you have a few moments between activities in your day, how do you normally spend them? Most people use these short breaks to check email, scroll through social media feeds, or read text messages.
Instead, use these small breaks in your routine to practice being mindful. Choose a breathing, meditation, or other mindful practice to do while you are standing in line, waiting for your next appointment, walking to your car, or killing time.
Build more mindfulness into your day, and you’ll soon notice how you are making this intention a habit.
23. Get Rid of Clutter
Clutter is very distracting and makes you less productive. Turn cleaning your desk into a mindful exercise as you carefully determine if you need each object, where you should place it for optimal use, and how you should get rid of those things you don’t really need.
Not only will this mental exercise help you focus on organizing your desk, but the end result will help you stay more focused in the long run.
24. Practice Being Present with Your Loved Ones
During times when your family is together, practice intentionally paying attention to those you love. Being mindful of your loved ones shows them you value your time together, and modeling this for your children can teach them valuable skills, as well.
Make a daily ritual to be present in your time together and talk with your whole family about the value of mindfulness practice to your family and to each person.
25. Drive Mindfully
Have you ever reached your destination only to realize you can’t remember anything about your drive? Mindlessness is common on the daily commute or while running errands. Change your perspective on driving with a mindful focus on your drive.
Start with deep breathing when you get into the car, then continue to intentionally focus on your drive with each turn and decision. At each stop along the route, practice your deep breathing your day starts its forward momentum.
26. Start Your Morning with Meditation
Meditation is an excellent way to practice your mindfulness habits. Start your day off with the right mindset by meditating for five to ten minutes each morning. Begin your day with an intentional focus on your breathing, on your present moment, and by meditating before your day starts its forward momentum.
27. Create a Mindful Dinner Practice
Support mindfulness in your family by creating a dinner ritual. Eating a meal together regularly is shown to increase the bonds among family members, and a nightly dinner is an excellent opportunity to reinforce your mindful practice. Devise a mindful ritual or practice that best meets your family’s needs and habits and involve your children in creating a tradition that they will enjoy, as well.
When you consistently turn to digital devices as a form of distraction or to occupy your time, you are reinforcing mindless practices that keep you disconnected from your life. Make a commitment to unplug from technology from at least one hour each day.
When you find yourself reaching for your device, whether to aimlessly scroll through your feed or to check emails that don’t really need checking, ask yourself how else you could spend that time to be more mindful and present in the moment.
29. Stretch with Intention
Set an intention to get up and stretch at least once per hour while you are working each day. When you engage in stretches, focus on how the moves make your muscles feel, how your breath feels as it travels through your body while you are stretching, and how you feel at the end of your stretching session. Stretching helps reduce stress, keeps your muscles strong, and stay more productive.
30. Focus on Your Mood
When you notice that you are feeling out of sorts, spend a few minutes just attending to your emotions. Tune into your mood and listen to how your emotions are making you feel, what is causing you to feel negative, and how your mood is affecting your body. Just listening to your own thoughts, worries, and inner chatter can help you determine where and if you need to make any adjustments.
31. Explore Loving-Kindness Meditation
Love-kindness is a form of meditation that is practiced with no judgment and focuses on compassion and acceptance of yourself and others. The goal of this form of meditation is unconditional love, and it is best practiced daily.
When you practice this form of meditation, it can help protect you from the pain and suffering in your world as well as from the toxic people with whom you may have to work or interact.
The benefits of this form of meditation are that you develop a higher capacity for empathy, you feel present in your interactions with others, and you become less reactive to the negative emotions of others.
32. Try Aromatherapy
Focuses on the input from just one of your senses is a great way to practice mindfulness. Using aromatherapy is an excellent way to concentrate on your sense of smell. Using a household diffuser and essential oils, select a scent that makes you feel good.
Sit in a room and close your eyes. Focus on the smell provided by the essential oils as well as the emotions and memories that this aroma conjures.
Notice these without judgment and let them pass through your mind easily. Sit and breathe this scent for several minutes to focus your attention just on your sense of smell.
33. Explore The Power of Breathing
There are many breathing techniques associated with mindfulness as well as different types of meditation. One way to practice mindfulness regularly throughout your day is to use transitions to practice intentional breathing.
After you are finished with one task and ready to transition to the next, before you move on, breathing deeply for several cycles, letting out your tension and focusing solely on your breath.
Be mindful in this moment, which allows your brain and emotions to switch gears and gives you the chance to offer calm into your otherwise hectic day.
The adult coloring craze is popular for a good reason. Coloring is a very therapeutic exercise that can be used to practice mindfulness. While mindfully coloring, you can reduce your stress, anxiety, and tension.
Focusing your attention on the task of coloring, and not allowing other thoughts to creep in while engaged in this activity, is the perfect mindfulness activity.
Live in the present, unwind from your day, and participate in a type of meditation with this fun and creative mindful activity.
35. Develop an End-of-Day Practice
When your workday is complete, your instinct may be to get out of there as soon as possible. Instead of rushing out there, intentionally bring your day to a close with an end-of-work practice. Transition your mind to stop thinking about work and start thinking about the other aspects of your life.
Spend several minutes getting rid of the day’s clutter, preparing your desk for the next morning, acknowledging what you accomplished today, and feeling grateful for your productivity. Find ways to bring peace to your end-of-day experience, and transition away from your workday with a lighter heart.
36. Pay Attention to Body Language
Being mindful also includes how you communicate with others, whether through you verbal or non-verbal expressions. Your entire body sends messages, not just the words you say. When you are engaged in conversation with others, intentionally become aware of your body language and facial expressions in the present moment.
What does the way you position and move your body tell the other person?
How does your body language affect how others perceive your message?
Focus your attention on your body in the present to observe how and what it is communicating to others
37. Try a Mindful Massage
Sit for a few moments and focus on where your body feels discomfort and tension. Then, give yourself a massage to relax and loosen these areas, easing pain as well as tension. Relaxation is a wonderful goal of mindfulness practices, and what better way to relax than by massaging away your stress.
If there are areas you cannot reach comfortably, try an electric massager, a foam roller, or other therapeutic tools to help you loosen muscles and address your discomfort.
38. Keep Your Hands Busy
Like coloring, other types of handiwork and hobbies that require complete concentration are excellent ways to practice your mindfulness. Many people enjoy knitting, embroidery, crochet, weaving, or other types of needlework.
Or, you can create something using beads, origami, or using calligraphy. How about soap carving, whittling, or mosaics?
Many crafts and hobbies engage the hands as well as the mind, providing you with relaxation and fulfillment as you create something you love.
39. Shut Down Each Day
Before you lay down for sleep each night, engage in a shut-down ritual that prepares you for sleep. At least thirty minutes before bed, turn off your screens. Engage in a relaxing activity of your choice, and start focusing your mind on rest and relaxation.
Transition your body as well as your mind for sleep, guiding yourself into a state whereby sleep will come more quickly. Get rid of habits that are hindering your sleep, and you’ll notice a significant difference in how rested you feel each morning.
Find ways that work for you to shut down each day to allow for the best sleep possible.
40. Create Your Own Mindfulness Activity
As you’ve read this list, you probably notice that the most important part of any mindfulness activity is your intention and focus. No matter what you are doing, with the right focus and intention, you can be more mindful.
Create ways to practice being more mindful in your daily life, experimenting with activities that work best for you and your lifestyle. Work on being more present in different aspects of your life and stick with those practices that work best for you. Get creative, and you’ll soon see that being mindful has its place in nearly all parts of your life.
When you learn to pay attention with intention to your present life, and to do so without passing judgment on yourself and others, you are practicing mindfulness. Don’t feel limited by the activities we have shared here.
Instead, let them inspire you to find the best ways for you to practice mindfulness in your own life. Focus on what works for you and practice regularly to build your skills and stamina for this way of thinking.
Mindfulness training can have a profound impact on your mind, your well-being, and your overall health when you engage in it regularly. While small moments of mindfulness may not seem like much at the time, these bits of time add up to immense change in your brain, which can affect how you think and view the world. Start practicing today, and you’ll soon notice how being more mindful can improve your life.
Stay mindful and be well!