Do you want to be more mindful, but find it difficult to make time for practising meditation?
Well, there are plenty of ways to implement some form of awareness into our daily lives and make small moment-to-moment changes that don’t take much effort. Wherever you are in the world, whether you’re a health professional, a busy parent or a young student, these quick exercises can be easily applied to your everyday life. Embracing simple mindfulness techniques can help you stay focused and calm under pressure, become more present in the moments you enjoy, and help you identify what’s important to you.
Not only will these daily mindfulness techniques help you create mindful habits, they’ll also help you improve your well-being and peace of mind in the moment, bringing a little more calm into your daily life.
Quick Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques and Activities For Adults
Mindfulness exercises are designed to help us become more aware of our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. They can be done alone or with others, and they can be practised at any time of day. A number of different mindfulness activities are available, including meditation, walking, journal writing, mindful eating, breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.
In this article, we’ll go over some of our favourites here at MindOwl. Hopefully, a few of them will appeal to you. Let’s get started.
At its core, meditation is as simple as taking the time out of your day, everyday, to sit down and work out your mental muscles.
- Choose a comfortable chair in a comfortable position. Try not to sit somewhere where you could easily get distracted.
- Place your feet in a relaxed, comfortable position with your feet squarely on the ground, knee distance apart. Have your palms resting gently on your knees.
- Focus your attention on your breathing, noting the even in and out and rise and fall of your breath.
- After 1 minute, or longer if you are up for it, open your eyes and acknowledge the time you have spent becoming aware of the present moment.
Now we know that this could be a difficult practice to bring into your daily life. Consider keeping a 1-minute hourglass timer at your desk or in your bedroom to help you stay on top of your daily practice. Simply flip the timer whenever you see something that captures your attention, like that nagging work assignment or the sound of friends downstairs. Spend a minute focusing on your breath as well as seeing what you can note about what you see, hear, or feel.
The 10 Step Mindfulness Exercise
The Body Scan method is a 10 step mindfulness exercise that encourages body awareness, the observation of unique physical sensations, and the refocusing of attention on the present moment. Body scanning may also be utilised to help you relax during stressful or challenging moments. To practise this method, begin by becoming aware of a sensation in the top of your head and gradually transfer your consciousness down your entire body. You should attempt to recognise any unpleasant feelings or tensions in your body and make an effort to breathe gently to relieve the tension.
- To begin, select a comfortable sitting posture, or lie down. Unclench your arms and legs and allow them to be supported by the ground, chair, or floor. If you like, you can close your eyes.
- Take note of how your breath enters and exits your body. Feel it enter your nose or mouth, pass through your airways, and fill your lungs. Now feel it leave your body. Spend a moment focusing on your breath as it flows in and out.
- Now concentrate on your toes. Continue to take calm, deep breaths. Wiggle your toes a little and concentrate your attention there.
- Bring your attention to your low back. Take note of any discomfort or tightness in that area. Breathe deeply through this spot and relax your muscles.
- Bring your focus back to your stomach. Pay attention to the subtle movements as you inhale and exhale. Place a hand on your chest and stomach if you are having difficulty.
- Pay close attention to your chest. Can you pay attention to its movement as you inhale and exhale?
- Pay attention to your shoulders. Try to feel for any tightness and let it go with your breath.
- Pay close attention to your neck. Try to relax your muscles by gently rolling your head from side to side.
- Bring your focus to your face. As you continue to breathe, feel for any tightness in your face muscles and let it go. Finally, pay attention to your head, and maybe your hair. Can you feel how the air moves around it?
- Continue to breathe and relax your entire body. Take note of your calm condition and carry it with you throughout the rest of your day.
The Self-Compassion Pause
Self-Compassion is a powerful tool that encourages us to be kinder to ourselves and others. And while it’s easy to show compassion to other people, we often struggle to do so for ourselves. Self-compassion is about building our self-confidence, improving our resilience to difficult situations and boosting our overall well-being. Taking a moment out of our day to practise self-compassion can help us make a habit out of this quality — so what happens in this self-compassion pause?
When you find yourself stressed out, angry, or stuck in a difficult situation, pause for a moment, take your hand and touch your heart with your palm. Feel the warmth there. Now, take some deep, even breaths. If you are suffering, see if you can treat yourself with the same kindness you would show a family member, friend or small child.
Take this mindful moment to offer yourself some phrases of self-compassion, starting by acknowledging the suffering by saying “I am suffering”, or “This is really painful/difficult”. But make sure to remind yourself “suffering is just a part of being human.”
Finally, take the time to give yourself a comforting affirmation. Make sure you choose something that is appropriate within your situation. You can always make up something to say yourself, but here are a few ideas to start off with:
- “May I love and care for myself with compassion.”
- “May I love and accept myself exactly the way I am.”
- “May I be at peace.”
- “May I always treat myself with compassion, love and kindness.”
With self-compassion and acceptance at the forefront of your day, you can now return to your daily activities with a more positive attitude. To read more about how you can develop self-compassion, read our article on How To Have a Peaceful Mind.
Mindful Appreciation, sometimes called Mindful Gratitude, is about appreciating what’s in front of us in the here and now. It is a way of appreciating the objects, experiences, activities, and people that enrich our lives and make us smile. It could be your bus arriving right on time this morning, a kind neighbour taking your parcel for you, or sunshine streaming through the window in the afternoon — expressing gratitude for all of these small pleasures will, over time, make you more appreciative of life.
Studies have found that appreciation and gratitude can increase our emotional wellbeing, reduce stress, and boost our physical health. When we regularly incorporate mindful appreciation into our lives, symptoms of insomnia, anxiety and chronic illness and pain are all markedly reduced. When we adopt a grateful attitude, we can increase our ability to gain satisfaction from work, which in turn puts a stop to “workplace burnout”. Being appreciative can also help us forge new social connections and relationships and enhance our awareness of existing support networks. Acknowledging who and what has contributed to your happiness in this way aligns with the fundamental principles of mindfulness.
Cultivating appreciation and gratitude isn’t complicated, but it does take practice.
In our article on Mindful Gratitude, we share some specific gratitude techniques you can use, like keeping a gratitude journal. But we know that everyone works in different ways, so below, we’ve included a simple Mindful Appreciation exercise to get you started.
5 Minutes and 5 Senses: A Mindful Appreciation Exercise
We know that practices like Mindful Appreciation and Gratitude can feel uncomfortable at first, especially if it’s just not in your nature! However, when we regularly commit to a daily practice, even if it only takes 5 minutes, we can experience the calmness, equanimity and relaxation that gratitude can bring us.
- Sit somewhere tranquil and comfortable, using a pillow for support wherever necessary.
- Using your breath, become aware of the present moment. Take deep breaths, following the even in and out of your breath, relaxing your shoulders and letting your palms rest comfortably. As you feel your body come to rest, bring your awareness and intention towards appreciation, gratitude and thankfulness.
- To begin, bring to mind a sight you appreciate. This could be a favourite daily activity, your favourite colour of flower, or a piece of art you love. Try to truly visualise it and see if you can feel truly appreciative of this vision. What is it that you see in this moment? Can you feel the gratitude you have for it?
- Now turn your attention towards your favourite scent. Is it your morning coffee? The perfume of your partner or best friend? Can you figure out what it is about that smell that you so enjoy? It could be that the scent brings back a wonderful memory, thereby offering comfort and nostalgia. Or maybe it’s a mysterious, distant smell you’ve only smelt once or twice that makes you curious and interested.
- Move on to your favourite taste. Explore what about it makes you smile. Is it sweet, or salty? Is it crunchy or soft? Maybe it’s a nostalgic dish that returns you to childhood, or a once-tasted flavour in a magical new place. Can you feel the gratitude you have for nourishment?
- Turn your attention towards the sounds around you. What can you hear? Are there people around you chatting and laughing? Is there the sound of distant birds, and wind in the trees, drawing your attention outside? Can you notice what it really feels like to listen to these sounds? Do you feel grateful for these sounds, and the experience of them all around you? If you are finding this part difficult, you can always play your favourite song or album, or even your favourite sound, like waves crashing on a shore. Can you feel gratitude for being able to hear these sounds so readily?
- Next, shift your awareness to the things you can touch and feel with your body. The sense of touch brings us many things we can be grateful for. Can you recall how it feels to be hugged by a loved one? Or maybe your pet is somewhere near, and you can stroke them to feel the soft sensation of their fur? Can you explore how you feel when you touch something you love? Explore the gratitude you have for the sensations brought forward by your senses.
- As your practice comes to a close, see if you can carry this gratitude with you throughout your day. Can you express your appreciation and gratefulness for the things done for you, or given to you throughout the day? How does this altered perception make you feel?
According to intuitive counsellor and wellness coach Amy Leigh Mercree, “Mindful Seeing is the practice of consciously noticing everything within your visual field. You do this to focus completely on [one thing]. It takes your mind from a place of thinking and doing to a place of noticing. It is about simply feeling, sensing, noticing and being present to the moment.”
For a lot of us, meditation without visual stimuli can feel stifling, strange and unnatural, and concentrating in these conditions can be hard. Mindful seeing can help you counteract this experience by encouraging you to focus on physical objects and ground yourself in reality.
“Meditation is a broad and diverse body of many types of exercises and ways to train the mind, heart, consciousness, and spirit,” says Mercree, “Mindful seeing is simply choosing to focus your awareness as much as possible on the information coming in through your sense of sight.”
Here’s a quick exercise designed to show you the benefits of Mindful Seeing. All you’ll need is a window that you can easily see out of.
- Choose a window that you can sit at for a while. Ideally, there will be lots to look out at.
- Look around and notice the things that are there. Don’t give labels or descriptions, like “that’s a car, it’s going a bit fast” or “crosswalk”, simply notice the sights, colours, textures, and changes.
- Notice the different shapes and colours of the world. Notice what shapes are present, what colour they are, what their texture is. Try and adopt the perspective of an alien, dropped on earth and seeing these sights for the very first time.
- Observe what is there like a new-born baby, unbiased and without opinions, simply experiencing the glory of our community and natural world. This perspective is sometimes called a Beginner’s Mind.
- When you become distracted, which is natural and inevitable, gently redirect your awareness back to the things you can see in your field of view, and focus on a colour or shape to bring you back to the intention of your meditation.
Mindful Immersion can help you let go of pressures and demands and cultivate happiness and peace in the moment. Instead of impatiently wanting to complete a daily normal activity in order to move on to something else, try to totally immerse yourself in ordinary tasks like never before.
Turn Your Chores into a Meditation
As an example, why don’t you pay attention to every detail when cleaning your house? Instead of treating your daily chores as boring and ordinary, why don’t you create a brand new experience by taking note of every feature of the activity.
When you are mopping or sweeping, feel the sensation of the motion. Can you determine which muscles you ae using in this process? Which areas of your arms, core and legs are engaged in this movement?
When scrubbing the dishes or cleaning the kitchen or bathroom, bring your awareness to how you are doing these tasks. Don’t constantly think of the work you are doing, but focus on each step as you do it. See if you can bring a balance to your state of being, spiritually, emotionally and physically, while you are doing each step of the task. See if you can invent new ways of completing the chore; maybe you can even figure out better and quicker ways of getting things done.
Increasingly common in recent years is a practice called “Mindful Drinking” that elevates a glass of wine or beer into a place of reflection. As a practice, it refers to those who want to become more intentional about their relationship with alcohol, instead of seeing it as a habit or crutch. There has been a dramatic increase in problematic drinking over the past year, according to studies, escalated by the pandemic. Practising mindful moderation can help us identify and tackle troubling behaviours and tendencies that may have emerged or developed during this difficult period.
Mindful Drinking is about becoming more aware of the habits and tendencies you have formed in relation to alcohol, and altering the decisions you make around drinking. Say you’ve fallen into some easy tendencies, like having a couple of drinks before bed after a long day, or necking the free wine at the work do. Mindful drinking is about expanding our awareness of how much we are drinking, why we are drinking it, where we are, and why we are drawn to drinking in that moment. A lot of people report noticing their habits of drinking in stressful, anxiety inducing or simply boring, mundane everyday situations. When we engage our awareness and become mindful of the reasons behind our decisions, we can make lifechanging alterations like reducing or even scrapping our current drinking habits, which benefits our overall health as well as our mental well-being.
Mindful Eating For Four Minutes
Our Mindful Eating article explores the subject more deeply, but for now we’re going to quickly go over the basics.
Mindful Eating is commonly defined by professionals as “a non-judgmental attention to physical and emotional sensations associated with eating”. This process involves focusing more closely on food rather than being distracted by other things. Also called mindful consumption, it is also defined as “the process of making conscious choices about what we buy, where we get our food, and how we prepare it.”.
Classic mindful eating choices include Mediterranean foods such as vegetable oils, whole grains, seeds, nuts, seafood and fruits & vegetables. Their heart-healthy fats and high nutritional value promote heart and brain health. Paying attention to what you eat will help you reduce the frequency with which you eat fast food, unhealthy food, and unsustainable food. The principle of mindful eating is to pay attention to all aspects of the food you buy, prepare, serve, and consume in your daily routine.
Here are some Mindful Eating techniques for you to try everyday to incorporate this practice into your routine:
- Shop mindfully and pay close attention to writing your shopping list before you leave the house.
- Engage all your senses.
- Honour your food in each process of buying, preparing, serving and consuming.
- Savour your food and chew thoroughly.
- Don’t skip meals.
- Don’t be too self-critical — we all need and deserve treats and indulgence.
Physical movement is an opportunity to guide ourselves out of the distracted autopilot we live in so much of the time. While walking, hiking, running, or engaging in any other physical activity, we often mentally check out or get easily distracted. Mindful walking is about countering this process.
Walking mindfully can be thought of as a form of meditation in motion. While walking, practise mindfulness and become more aware of the sensations in your body. Tune into your surroundings and your body’s physical sensations, and focus on the present moment as you walk.
Walking meditation is about being aware of the muscles in the body, noticing the placement of the feet, and feeling the motion in your limbs and muscles. Doing these few simple things can help you feel totally present in the world at each moment of your exercise.
Walking meditation is a practice that you can use almost anywhere as a means of expanding how aware you are of your physical surroundings and bodily sensations.
Here’s a mindful walking exercise for you to try today.
- Before starting this exercise, choose somewhere familiar that you feel safe and comfortable walking through. This could be your garden if you have one, a local park or nature reserve, a country road, or a busy street on your way home from work. You can be anywhere, as long as you’re aware as you move within this environment.
- Firstly, stand still and note how you feel throughout your body.
- Consider your posture, the shape of your stance, the weight of your feet on the ground.
- Can you decipher which muscles are engaged in helping you stand up straight?
- Take some deep, even breaths and bring your awareness to the present moment.
- Begin walking mindfully, slower than you would normally walk.
- See if you can maintain awareness of the following: Each step, the roll of each ankle as each step is taken, the muscles that engage to support your foot and legs, the muscles that engage in the rest of your body.
- Can you bring your awareness to your senses as you walk?: What noises can you hear; wind, birds, laughter? What can you smell; fresh grass, flowers, fumes? What can you see around you; the shadows of others, lights reflected on glass? What can you feel; wind on your face, rain on your skin? Try to cultivate a different way of paying attention.
- Now, gently bring your awareness to each breath. Try to keep your breaths even and deep, but not laboured.
- If your mind drifts, gently redirect your attention back to the intention of this practice, exploring your senses and what you are experiencing in that moment.
- Walk as long as you need, welcoming the different experiences caused by your senses being stimulated. Savour these sensations.
- When you have come to the end of this practice, stand still.
- Continue to take deep, even breaths and finish your practice. Appreciate the experience of this mindful walk.
“The contemplative dimension of walking comes through my presence to the world around me and to what is moving through me as I walk.” — Christine Valters Paintner
Walking contemplation is another form of walking mindfulness technique that has plenty in common with the previous exercise. Again, allocate a location, a pace, and an intention for your practice.
- Stand still and bring your awareness to your bodily sensations, like, the ground beneath your feet, the pace of your breath and the wind in your hair.
- Bring your awareness also to your breathing, the deep even flow of in and out.
- Try to match your breath with your steps, falling deeper into a meditative state and experiencing true awareness of your body, the stimuli around you, and the breaths you’re taking.
- Adopt a phrase or affirmation like “Love”, “Peace”, or “Calm” as the intention of your practice.
- Every time you feel your mind drift on this contemplative walk, bring it back gently to the centring word, said in time with your breath and steps.
- Immerse yourself in the experiences of the stimuli around you, the stimulation of all your five senses, what you can feel happening in your body.
- Allow whatever is coming next to flow in this chain of experience, release your bias and don’t focus on one thing.
- When your practice comes to a stop, stand still for a moment. Give gratitude for this moment of peace.
Passing Through a Door
As you leave one space and enter another, you naturally re-adjust to your surroundings. By mindfully bringing our attention to any transitions between them, we can increase our sense of awareness, perspective and open attention.
Jan Chozen Bays’ 2011 book of mindfulness exercises How to Train a Wild Elephant describes this mindfulness practice as “entering new spaces”. This refers to the awareness you bring to the forefront of your attention when passing between different spaces.
Next time you walk through a door, pause, even just for a second. Can you bring to mind any of the differences you might feel between this environment and the one you are going into next?
Try also bringing awareness to the door, considering how you are closing it behind you as you enter the new space. We often forget about the environment we were just in, and take for granted the ones we enter. To help you practise this technique, try placing a big bright sticker or picture on the doorframes of your home, especially the doorframes you enter and leave frequently (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen). Or, you can put a mark or symbol (“D” or “*”) on the back of your hand. Doing this can help you remember to open and shut the door mindfully, and pay greater attention when moving between rooms.
Observe a Leaf for Five Minutes
All you need for this practice is a leaf and a sense of consciousness.
- Choose a leaf from somewhere close by.
- Take it in your hand and observe it with your full attention for five minutes.
- Note these things: Unique colours? Patterns? Shifting shapes? Is there a texture on the leaf? Is it different from the front to the back?
- Allow this practice to bring your attention to the present.
- Align your thoughts with the present moment.
Focusing your attention in this way will help you bring awareness back to the present moment and boost your sense of gratitude for the small things around you.
Observe Your Thoughts for Five Minutes
The purpose of this exercise is to observe and appreciate the seemingly simple elements of your environment in a more profound way. You don’t have to be on the move or have a window for this exercise, which means you can practise it anywhere, at any time.
As we rush around in the car or hop on and off trains on our way to work, we are easily distracted and our minds pulled away from the beauty of the natural world. When we finally have moments to ourselves, we usually go on our phone and mindlessly entertain ourselves using social media. This quick exercise is about bringing our minds back to our present reality.
- To begin, choose a natural item from your environment around you.
- You don’t have to hold it, but just focus on it for a minute or two.
- It could be a flower, a pattern on a stone wall or a bee on a patch of flowers.
- Don’t try to do anything except notice what you are looking at; simply watch it for as long as you can concentrate on it.
- Allow yourself to be consumed by the beauty of its form, the shapes, colours, and textures it is made up of.
- You can connect with its energy and its purpose within the natural world by focusing and taking note of it.
The first few moments after waking up are the perfect time to practise mindfulness. Focus on the feeling of your breath coming into your nostrils. Focus on the sounds around you. Focus on your thoughts. Try this simple exercise.
- After waking up, arrange your body in a comfortable position in your bed.
- As you stretch, let your attention scan your body quickly.
- Observe and note how each part of your body feels. You can check back in later when you go to bed tonight.
- Inhale and exhale, deeply, evenly and slowly, for 1 minute.
- When the minute is up, bring yourself gently out of this focused awareness and get ready for your day with a new state of mindfulness already in motion.
By single-tasking, you concentrate fully on one task and avoid all potential external distractions. Single-tasking is not an easy habit to master – especially in today’s world. Each day we are consumed with how much work we can do and how many things we can accomplish. Most importantly, we are obsessed with how many of these activities we can accomplish simultaneously. But according to a study by Stanford University, multitasking may be harmful to your brain, and it can impede our ability to accomplish tasks quickly and efficiently.
Here are seven activities to hone your Single-Tasking skills:
- Meditate Daily. In the modern world, with all its distractions and technology, focusing on one thing, can be very difficult. Our senses are constantly bombarded with messages, emails, tasks, events. One effective way of countering this is by making meditation practice a daily ritual. This helps strengthen your ability to pay close attention to the task at hand.
- Take Note. Throughout the day, our minds are filled with rushing thoughts about the things we want to do, things we can’t forget, things to buy, things to drop off. Keep a pad of paper with you, or get a good reliable notes app on your phone or tablet, and keep a handy list of the things that come to mind throughout the day.
- Coordinate. A lot of the time, we find it difficult to get things done because we can’t find any space in our messy room or on our messy desk. Make sure your home and work desks are all clean, organised and coordinated to make everyday tasks like grabbing a pen, organising paperwork or jotting something down is easy! And if you live or work in an environment that is undesirably loud and noisy, pop in good noise-cancelling headphones and listen to your favourite song, podcast or even ambient noise like rain or wind.
- Prioritise. The best way to get everything you want to get done throughout the day is to make a clear note for yourself to see. Make a list of your priorities every morning and narrow it down to the five most important. Making these lists and prioritising the right tasks can help make you more efficient, more organised, and less stressed.
- Move. It’s really important to remember that constantly being on the go can cause us to disregard our body and add to the tension and pressure of our days. Taking tasks one by one with single-tasking doesn’t mean not taking breaks. Keep your body moving, take breaks when your body tells you to and listen to your inner intuition about what you need. Moving your body will clear the rushing thoughts of your mind, which in turn will increase your positivity, productivity and creativity.
- Breathe. Pay keen attention to your environment and remember to focus on the grounding power of your breath to mindfully bring your awareness back to the task at hand, your current environment and the present moment.
Take a Digital Break
Mindful moments aren’t limited to meditation; cultivating a more mindful presence throughout our daily lives also has immense benefits. In order to do this, we need to recognise that technology is one of the biggest things in the way of inner peace, and commit to sometimes taking a break from it.
- Every day, take one walk without your phone.
- On a particular day of the week or designated time on that day, shut down your phone and make a conscious effort to take a break from technology.
- Every evening, turn off your phone or silence it between 6 and 8 p.m.
- Create conscious intentions. Pick up your phone only when you need it: Are you really in need of that information, or is there something else that your attention would be better directed to?
- When you have an urgent task to complete, turn off your notifications so that you will not be interrupted.
- Create a designated area or two where you will not be allowed to use your devices.
When you add regular digital breaks into your life, your inclination to grab your phone for every minor notification or inconvenience will diminish. You’ll rely less on technology and you’ll find yourself more present and conscious in your daily life.
Name Your Emotions
Mindfulness gives us that moment of space when reactive emotions (like anger) are rising up. If we can see the anger, then we don’t have to be it. Notice the body and mind crackling with reactivity, and acknowledge (or “name”) our emotions as we’re having them.
To begin this technique, whenever your body and mind get strained because of a stressful situation, urge yourself to connect words to your experience and name the emotions you are experiencing. The more you understand how emotions develop within you, the better.
Note: “This is anger. I am experiencing the emotion of anger.”
The goal of this practice is to improve one’s ability to catch yourself before you fall into the habitual emotion. Naming an emotion allows you to remove yourself from it and instead of being driven by our triggers, we may choose how to respond from there.
After the moment of stress has passed and you have named the resulting emotions, you may sense a “distance” that develops as you categorise your thoughts and emotions. Instead of responding and either lashing out or closing down, you spark your frontal lobe, calm your body and thoughts, and pick your answer in a couple of seconds.
Whenever you have the opportunity, practise naming your emotions as they rise. Don’t be disheartened if you find yourself being swept away by emotional situations — our emotional responses are deeply embedded to protect us and it takes lots of practice to break down these habits.
To find out more about meditation for extreme emotions like anger read our article on Meditation for anger management.
Mindful breathing is all about becoming aware of your breath and recognising its connection to both your body sensations and your interior moods and emotions. Most of us go through life juggling many things or getting sucked into distraction after distraction. Mindful breathing is a strong technique that not only helps you to combat this human propensity, but also promotes a variety of physical, emotional, and mental advantages.
Box breathing prompts you to develop a set breathing rhythm. To practise it, follow these steps.
- The most typical way to use this breathing strategy is to inhale for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and then exhale for four seconds, before repeating the process.
- Keep doing this until you find a good rhythm. Picture and construct the image of a box as you do this to keep you focused on your breath.
- If you find it difficult to hold your breath for four seconds, start with 2-3 seconds and gradually go to four seconds.
Read our article on Mindful Breathing to find out more about this subject.
Hopefully, today’s article has given you valuable insight into the great variety of mindfulness exercises, techniques and activities available for you to use throughout your daily life, and within your mindfulness and meditation practice. Practising these techniques can result in reduced stress, anxiety and anger, and enhanced peace of mind, well-being, and focus.
If you would like to learn more and cultivate mindfulness using our bespoke courses, videos and more join our online community here!
Before we wrap things up completely, let’s address some common questions people have about the types of mindfulness exercises we’ve covered today.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How can I stop breathing anxiously?
Anxiety can cause us to breathe more quickly, which makes it harder to catch our breath. This is why some people who suffer from anxiety find it hard to breathe. During anxious breathing, the sympathetic nervous system is activated, also known as the “fight-or-flight” mode. As a result of an increase in anxiety our cortisol levels increase, the heart starts beating faster, and the pace of the breath quickens. The best and quickest way to counteract anxious breathing is to lengthen your exhale, as inhaling deeply when you feel anxious may not always calm you down and may make you feel worse.
Try these three simple Mindful Breathing steps to help you mindfully reduce anxiety:
- Instead of taking a deep, long breath, breathe out thoroughly. Breathe out all the air you have in your lungs, then relax your lungs as they breathe in.
- Next, try spending a little bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. Inhale for four seconds, then exhale for six.
- Do it for a minute, or as long as is needed for you to feel less anxious.
Q. Is Yoga a Mindfulness Practice?
While you will know that yoga and mindfulness are two separate practices, it can actually be really helpful to combine the two within your mindfulness practice.
Mindfulness is an essential component of the physical practice of Yoga. Dedicated Mindfulness Yoga differs from the many other Yoga practices out there in that its main focus is on mind-body awareness rather than alignment details and exact physical postures. In asana, we cultivate mindfulness, by becoming aware of our body and mind through a heightened awareness of our senses and true self. The word Asana is a Sanskrit word that directly translates to the word “seat”, but specifically in a Yoga context.
As we discussed before, any physical activity can be transformed into a form of meditation by adding mindful awareness to it, which creates an alert focus on whatever is happening in the present moment. That’s why Mindful Yoga is considered a very effective meditation technique. It is typically practised before a formal meditation sitting as a practical way of bringing the mind to awareness of the present moment and your own present state. Research has shown that Mindful Yoga can greatly reduce anxiety and stress levels amongst those who work high-intensity jobs and suffer mental and physical strain.
Q. What are the 7 principles of Mindfulness?
In 1979, Jon Kabat-Zinn created the chronic disease training program Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a exercise program based on mindfulness. Within the programme, Kabat-Zinn developed the 7 pillars, or principles, of Mindfulness.
7 Pillars of Mindfulness:
- Beginner’s mind
- Letting go
Q. What are 3 examples of what Mindful Breathing can do for the body?
- Reduce your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Help reduce symptoms of mental health like anxiety and depression.
- Help your body better regulate its reaction to stress, chronic pain and fatigue.
Q. What are 3 things you can do everyday in order to improve your mindfulness?
- Single-Task and focus on one task at a time.
- Slow down, move with purpose and bring awareness to your actions.
- Eat, drink and move mindfully.
MindOwl Founder – My own struggles in life have led me to this path of understanding the human condition. I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy before completing a master’s degree in psychology at Regent’s University London. I then completed a postgraduate diploma in philosophical counselling before being trained in ACT (Acceptance and commitment therapy).
I’ve spent the last eight years studying the encounter of meditative practices with modern psychology.