With a growing body of research supporting the numerous health benefits of mindfulness; it is becoming increasingly evident that a few minutes of mindfulness meditation daily are crucial for our wellbeing.
Mindfulness is the act of bringing yourself back to the present moment when your mind wanders to the past or the future. Since most of our worries, anxieties, and stress are associated with events that have long passed or the things we anticipate for the future; snapping ourselves back to the present makes us appreciate life and lowers stress.
Our minds are always whirring with a billion thoughts, so it is not an easy task to press stop and just exist in the moment. To achieve this we have to train ourselves daily by taking out a few minutes to practice mindfulness activities. Mindfulness activities sharpen our focus, increase our attention span but most importantly they boost happiness as we experience more and more gratitude for what we have and not what we had or what we yearn for.
To improve our mental and emotional wellbeing we should take the time out from our hectic lives to engage in a few mindfulness activities to help us appreciate our life. It also helps us develop a level of detachment with material possessions and particular outcomes which means we stock up on happiness and joy by not linking it to a temporary moment or object.
21 Mindfulness Activities
If you are confused about how to fit meditation exercises in your already busy schedule then look no further. We have compiled 20 mindfulness activities that you can choose from to practice daily.
1. Eat a Raisin: In this activity, you have to eat a raisin but you have to pretend as if you are viewing it for the first time. What would a person who has never seen a raisin notice? Take into account its texture, shape, smell, and taste. When we get caught up in life we begin taking things for granted, we go through the motions of everyday life and never stop to look around us. This extremely simple exercise helps bring you back to the present moment as you notice the intricacies of the tiny raisin.
Not a fan of raisins? Then pick any food you like preferably with an interesting texture (tangerines, figs, walnuts) and eat it while paying close attention to all its little details.
2. Body Awareness: For this exercise you will have to lie down on the floor with palms facing upwards and feet slightly apart. You can choose to sit in a comfortable chair and go through this exercise if you feel the need to instantly calm your nerves and lying down is not an option.
Begin by gently observing your breathing, the rise and fall of your chest as you inhale and exhale. Now pay attention to each body part and every sensation. The surface you are lying on, is it hard or soft? The temperature of the room; tingling in a particular body part; feeling numb or not feeling anything in particular in another body part.
The idea is to shift your focus on to the present moment by making you acutely aware of your bodily sensations.
3. Mindful observation: Look at your surrounding and keenly observe all that you see. Instead of resorting to simple labels for what you see for example a bird or a car; pay attention to the colors, the textures, shapes, and any small movements. If you find your mind drifting away, gently pull your attention back to what you see in front of you. Mindful observation is great for keeping yourself ties at the moment, as you practice this activity you will begin to notice the various things that you had been taking for granted until now.
4. Listen closely: This mindfulness activity involves paying close attention to all that you can hear. Listen carefully to all the sounds around you, notice the rhythmic pattern, the highs and lows. Become acutely aware of every noise in your surroundings.
You can practice mindful listening by playing your favorite song as well. Pay attention to the lyrics, try to identify the different instruments playing in the background, and try to feel the emotions of the singer as they belt those high notes.
5. Stroke your hand: Stroke the fingers of one hand with the index finger of the other. Focus your mind on the sensations of your hand and the motion of your index finger. Gently detach your awareness from your thoughts and bring yourself back to the present moment. This simple mindfulness exercise is great for becoming aware of the present and the best part is it can be practiced in almost any stressful situation.
6. Practice mindfulness in everyday tasks: Rather than simply going through the motions and just thinking of getting the job done pay attention to your movements. Practice mindfulness as you execute everyday mundane tasks, by becoming acutely aware of your senses as you work. If you are sweeping the floor, feel the sweeping motion of the broom, notice the dust rise, the dust motes floating in the sunlight. Turn an otherwise routine task into a mindfulness activity to truly appreciate the present moment.
7. Appreciate the little things: Take out a notebook and a pen and list down the things that make your life complete. It can be anything as ordinary as a warm bed to sleep in each night or a special relationship that you share with someone. Once you have written down the things you appreciate the most in life, observe them closely. If it is an object notice the patterns, color, and shape.
If it is a personal experience the feelings of love and security coursing through your body as you spend time with them. Pay attention to the details, savor the moments of happiness these things inspire. The goal is to acknowledge the good in your life that you tend to take for granted.
8. Mindfulness of emotions: When you feel a strong emotion analyze the changes it makes to your body. Does your breathing become heavier? Can you experience tension in some parts of the body? Analyze the thoughts racing through your mind at that moment. Remain detached from your thoughts and physical changes. Simply observe the emotion in a non-judgmental way. Consider your feelings energy currents and resist the temptation of reacting to them.
9. Hit the pause button: Most of us go from one task to the next on autopilot mode. When rushing from one thing to the next burns you out, pause, and slow down. Take some time out to sit in a quiet place and engage in mindfulness. Fix yourself a refreshing drink and utilize all your five senses while sipping on your glass. Observe your surroundings: feel the coolness of the glass in your hand; the shaft of sunlight coming in from the window.
10. Do some stretching: A little stretching can help snap you back in the moment. This is particularly useful if you have been working at the desk for long hours. Do some static stretches, holding the position for 10 – 30 seconds. If you are up for it, engage in some dynamic stretches as well to get your body warmed up. Pay attention to your pulse racing, your breathing, and any other bodily sensations. This will help you break your chain of thoughts and bring your focus to your body and the present moment.
11. Rest your mind by switching off from the internet: The internet is an excellent source of information and social media helps you stay connected with your loved ones and the world at large. In modern times the internet has truly evolved to become a basic commodity. But the influx of information can get overwhelming at times. So switch off your devices for a few hours and take some time to rest your mind.
12. Practice loving-kindness meditation: Think about someone you love and care for, focus on them, and wish them well. Repeat the words in your head: “May you be happy, may you be well, may you be filled with kindness and wellness”. You can extend the same compassion towards yourself and substitute “You” with “I”.
Extending love and kindness to others and yourself, helps you achieve a non-judgmental outlook on others actions and makes you more forgiving of your mistakes. Have you ever caught yourself playing an embarrassing moment that transpired years ago again and again in your head? By practicing loving-kindness you train your mind to let go of the past and move on.
13. Mindfulness coloring books: Adult coloring books have been proven time and again to bring down stress levels and create a sense of calm. Take some time out of your busy life and sometimes adding color to the outlines in adult coloring books. Be attentive to the sound of the pencil scraping the paper, the picture, and observe the pigments suffuse on the pages.
14. De-clutter: Organizing a space in your room and chucking away surplus items is an incredibly therapeutic activity. It calms the nerves as a clear, organized place emerges before you. So take a cue from Marie Kondo and throw away the things that do not inspire joy. Cleaning up and putting things in order will lower stress and anxiety as you feel more in control of your surroundings.
15. Practice the Pomodoro technique: This technique involves taking short breaks after 25 minutes of working on a given task. This simple technique helps you recharge and return to your task with complete focus. The method keeps you fully alert and conscious of the work at hand therefore training your brain to practice mindfulness. Try this method to achieve sharper focus and a clear mind.
16. Practice walking meditation: A mindfulness walk involves taking a stroll while using your senses to take in everything you feel, hear and see. Notice how your feet fall to the ground, feel the cool breeze on your skin, and hear the chirping of the birds in the distance. Being present in the moment as you take a walk outside is not beneficial for your physical and emotional well-being. This meditation activity is perfect for unwinding after a stressful day.
17. Engage in handwork: Any skill that involves using your hands such as crochet, embroidery, or calligraphy uses up all your concentration and is excellent for practicing mindfulness. Such mindfulness activities can be immensely calming and relaxing.
18. Aromatherapy: It involves using the scent of essential oils derived from different plants to evoke a sense of calm and serenity. Aromatherapy is a form of alternative medicine that is used in lowering stress and boosting overall wellbeing. This is a wonderful technique to relax and calm your nerves so do invest in a few fragrant essential oils to practice mindfulness through your sense of smell,
19. Stand still: Stand with your feet firmly placed on the ground and pretend roots extending from your feet deep into the earth. Place your focus on your feet and in your mind imagine yourself to be a tree. Sway from side to side as if blowing in the wind.
20. Write with your non-dominant hand: Select a few sentences and practice writing them with your non-dominant hand. If frustration springs up, notice it without passing judgment. This activity will activate your complete attention and firmly place you in the present moment as you practice writing once more. Mindfulness activities such as these are great because not only do you improve your focus and help keep yourself present in the now, you end up gaining a new skill such as ambidexterity.
21. Look outside a window: Look at the world that lay outside your window. Pretend as if you are unfamiliar with the neighborhood you live in and the little things that someone living there will probably overlook. Notice the stationary objects and pay attention to any movements, now describe the scene in your head listing all the things you have observed.