Several Simple but Effective Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness exercises are gaining popularity in Western culture, and for good reason. They relieve stress and depression that often stems from reoccurring negative thoughts and are so effective that they are now being included in cognitive therapy. Unlike meditation, mindfulness exercises can be done anywhere at virtually any time. They are also easier for people with weak attention spans t handle than heavy meditation. Make a commitment to yourself to try some of these exercises daily and see the benefits for yourself.
One of the most soothing of the mindfulness exercises involves simply listening to and hearing music. While it is not recommended to do this while driving, this can easily be done in the privacy of your own home or in a quiet public place.
Find some slower tempo music such as new age, instrumental, or essentially anything with a slow tempo. If this is not normally music you would listen to, then all the better. Mindfulness exercises are designed to get you out of your norm and be aware of your normal state of mind and patterns. This does not mean, however, that this exercise is designed to change your taste in music—so don’t throw out your rap and heavy metal CDs just yet.
Close your eyes and let the music fill your ears. Pay attention to each of the different instruments and the complexities or simplicity of the music. Pay attention to any involuntary emotional changes that you undergo and how it relates to the melody. Feel the vibrations of each note as they pass through your ears. Strive to focus on the sounds, but if other thoughts pop in you can silently acknowledge them and usher them back out.
These are great mindfulness exercises during high stress times or times of impatience. The next time you fight with your lover, have a disagreement with your boss, or are simply stuck in line at the bank, use this exercise to calm your nerves and focus on your internal state of being.
Instead of breathing through your chest, breathe through your stomach, taking in air through the nose and expelling it through the mouth. Listen to the sound of your breath as it enters and leaves your body. Slow your breath down and feel the stress slowly fade as your heart rate slows. While breathing, take a mental stock of your body and any pain or discomfort you are feeling. Think of five things you are feeling at this moment, seeing at this moment, and hearing at this moment.
Very few people enjoy cleaning up, especially if it’s a chore they’ve been skirting for a while. Doing mindfulness exercises while cleaning, however, can make it a healing process and more enjoyable.
The easiest way to do this is to view cleaning as a positive event and not a chore. As you clean, focus on exactly what you are doing. Focus on the sounds and vibrations as you vacuum. Feel the heat of the soapy dish water as it soaks into your skin and gradually causes wrinkles. If you are doing laundry, embrace the warmth and smells of the fabric softener as you fold and hang it. If you are de-cluttering your house, focus on the additional space you are freeing up by getting rid of objects and trash that only add to the stress in your life.
Although this surely sounds silly, smiling when angry can be a great mindfulness exercise. Do not be mistaken, this does not mean putting on a brave face and bottling up your emotions. You are doing this for you and no one else. This exercise is about self-awareness and recognizing when your stress levels are rising and your temper is dangerously high. By smiling, you are acknowledging your anger and acting in contrary to it.
There are literally countless mindfulness exercises to be done. Anything can be constructed into one. Just be aware of what you are doing, why, what it feels like, and change it up on occasion. Don’t give in to the patterns of your life and go through them mindlessly.