Are you guilty of rushing out of the house every morning without ever thinking about how you’d like to see the day unfold? In no time, some situation or person rubs you the wrong way and your automatic reaction is rage, impatience, or frustration. You didn’t plan to respond this way, it just happened. That’s the problem, isn’t it?
The majority of your day just happens. We run around like chickens with our heads cut off. We never savor the moments of the day. Honestly, can you recall any real specific moments of your day yesterday? For example, what you felt? Saw? Thought? Smelled?
What if I told you that it didn’t have to be that way?
Yes, that’s right. You can put practices in place that naturally improve your day by ensuring it falls more in line with how you’d like it to unfold. Try these 10 mindfulness training exercises.
10 Mindfulness Exercises
1| Begin Your Day With Purpose
Did you know you can wake up mindfully? Your intention is essentially your underlying motivation for what you do, say, and think. When you act in a way you didn’t intend to act it is because there is a disconnect between your slow, conscious brain, and the unconscious part of your brain. The unconscious part of your brain is generally in charge so waking mindfully will help you get them back in alignment with each other.
- Start by sitting on the edge of your bed, with your posture relaxed. Close your eyes and allow yourself the chance to connect with your bodily sensations.
- Now, take three big breaths. Always inhale through your nose, exhaling through your mouth.
- Now, set your intention for the day.
2| Live In The Moment
Today take the time at least 3 times during your day to live in the moment.
Let’s say it is 11 am. Intentionally focus at that time and consider…
- What are you doing?
- Where are you?
- What do you see?
- What are you touching?
- What are you thinking?
- What do you smell?
- Who is there? What are they doing?
- How do you feel?
- What sensations are going through your body?
- Pay close attention to anything and everything. Focus with all your attention.
With practice this can become second nature and you will learn to savor each moment of your day, which really allows you to revel in the joyous and precious moments that we all have.
3| Mindful Eating
Mealtimes are an excellent opportunity to practice mindfulness because it engages all of your senses. The majority of us scarf down a meal while scrolling social media or watching television. I would encourage you to turn everything off and focus solely on the sight, smell, taste, and textures of the food you are eating.
- Take a deep breath before you start eating.
- Place intentional focus on your plate.
- Pay attention to your bodily sensations to determine how hungry you are.
- Take that knowledge and eat based on your hunger level.
- Focus on each bite you take.
- What are the colors on your plate?
- How does the fork or knife feel as they hit your food?
- What aromas emit from your food?
- What textures can you see?
- Take your first bite. Chew slowly and deliberately.
- What does it taste like?
- Focus on the texture of the food in your mouth, what does it feel like?
- How do your taste buds react as the food hits your tongue?
- What does it taste like? Sweet? Pungent? Salty? Juicy?
- Chew slowly. Savor every bite.
- Continue eating and focus on each bite as it hits your mouth.
- Chew slowly. Savor and really taste each bite.
- How do you feel chewing this food?
- Remain focused through your entire meal.
4| The 5 Senses
This mindfulness exercise is all about using all of your 5 senses. In our hectic lives we often overlook all the stimulation that is in front of us. To be mindful we tune into all our 5 senses, sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.
Take a few moments, sit comfortably, and experience your 5 senses. Clear your mind of everything else. Get into this moment and this experience.
Look around and discover 3 things that you can see.
For each one, take the time to consider…
- What is it?
- What is its shape?
- What is its color?
- What is its function?
- Is it unique? How is it unique?
Look around and choose 3 things you can feel and/or touch.
For example, your clothes, the desk where your hands are resting, the breeze coming from the window, your bedspread, etc. Observe and investigate each one…
- What does it feel like?
- What is its texture?
- Is it unique?
- How does it make you feel?
Observe 3 things you can hear.
Focus on and observe and investigate each one…
- How does it sound?
- How is the sound unique?
- Is the sound pleasing or annoying?
- How does the sound make you feel?
Identify 3 things you can smell.
For example, does the breeze from outside have a scent? Perhaps something on your desk or in the room has a distinct aroma? Bring your awareness to those smells you typically ignore or not focused on.
Observe and investigate each one…
- What is the smell?
- Is it pleasant? Not pleasant?
- Does it invoke some memory?
- How does it make you feel?
Identify 3 things you can taste.
Perhaps you have a cup of coffee. If not, get 3 things, be it a drink, gum, or some type of food. You can also focus on the taste in your own mouth or in the air.
Observe and investigate each one…
- What is the taste?
- Is it pleasant?
- Is it worrisome?
- How does it make you feel?
5| Mindful Sight
Our sight offers us a plethora of opportunities to practice and perfect the skill of mindfulness. This is a great practice exercise that you can do anytime, with either one single subject or a whole scene that engages the sense of sight.
Take a seat near a window. Observe the scene outside the window.
- Notice the colors.
- Pay attention to any movement. Perhaps tree branches are dancing with the breeze? A squirrel or cat or dog is walking or running around?
- Are children playing?
- What shapes do you see?
- What colors?
- What is unique?
- What is the same?
- What patterns?
- What textures?
- Become aware of all that is going on outside the window.
Observe. Notice. Become aware. Focus your attention just to this scene.
If your own thoughts interfere gently push them aside and continue to focus outside. Push aside any distractions and return your focus back to that scene outside the window.
6| The Mindful Eye Spy
This is a great quick exercise to practice and perfect mindfulness. It is also a great technique to stop spiraling and ruminative thinking. If you are obsessing over something, try this.
- Look around and identify 3 things you can see
- Look around and identify 3 things you can hear
- Look around identify 3 things you can touch or feel
- Notice your body. What sensations can you feel?
7| Candle Study Exercise
- Light a candle
- Sit next to it
- Watch the flame for 5 to 10 minutes
- As thoughts come to your mind, acknowledge them, and let them pass.
- Stay focused on the flame
8| A Mindful Pause
For the majority of your day, you operate on autopilot. Your fast brain is in charge, mindfulness can be used to slow your mind, and regain clarity and focus. Often when are brains are running in supercharge mode, we are anxious, and this is reflected in your breath, which may be short, and shallow.
Rather than operating on autopilot, you need to engage executive control. Deep breathing relaxes the mind, it brings us back to your center and to the present moment. The more you tap into this the stronger it will grow. Here’s how.
- Sit still.
- Take a long deep breath.
- Take another deep breath, as you inhale slowly count to 4. Slowly count to 4 on the exhale.
- Repeat 5 times.
9| The Daily Check In
In our hectic unobserving lives, we are often completely disconnected from our emotions and how we feel throughout the day. This exercise allows you to get in touch with feelings, while also perfecting the practice of mindfulness. The point of this exercise is to simply observe, identify and check in with yourself. To become mindful of where you are mentally and emotionally.
- Set the alarm on your phone for some time 3 times per day.
- Once the alarm goes off, take 5 to 10 minutes in a quit place.
- Sit comfortably. Take a deep breath and relax your mind.
- Observe your mental state. Check in with yourself
- What do I feel?
- note the thoughts going through your mind, let them pass without judgement.
- How am I doing right now?
- Focus on feelings that rise, name them.
10| The Mindful Workout
Whatever exercise you do, you can do it mindfully, from a bike ride to lifting weights. Here’s how.
- Whatever you set out to do, have a good handle on your aim. As you slip into the rowing machine remind yourself, you’re going to breathe deeply as you notice your bodily sensations. If your exercise takes place outdoors you can focus on the breeze, the rays of the sun, and the scenery you pass by.
- Pay attention to every single move, stroke, and breath you take.
- Submerse yourself completely in the act.
- As thoughts push through your mind, gently push them away and return your complete focus to the movement.
- Focus on the movement of your arms
- Focus on the movement of your legs.
- Focus on each breath you take.
- Observe how your body feels as you move.