Basic Mindfulness Exercises
If you learn to put yourself more in the moment you'll essentially
give yourself more brain power, especially if you make this a
habit. How do you do this? By learning basic mindfulness exercises
that can put you in a state of higher awareness and help you
let go of distractions. Done regularly, these exercises let you
think more clearly, primarily because they allow you to drop
distracting thoughts so you can concentrate more fully on the
task at hand.
The simplest for of these exercises begins with simply sitting
down, relaxing and breathing deeply. Close your eyes and pay
attention to your breathing, following the breath in and out.
It is generally more effective if you breath through your nose,
so do so unless you have some illness or disability that prevents
this. After a minute or so of deep breaths let your breathing
fall into a normal comfortable pattern, but keep paying attention
Now start to move your attention to your body, one part at
a time, noticing any sensations of cold, hot, tight, sore or
anything you can identify. After a few minutes of attention on
your body, start listening to the sounds of the room, without
judging or criticizing or even thinking about them. Just listen.
Slowly open your eyes and look around as if seeing for the
first time. Stop and rest your eyes on an object for half a minute.
Examine it without saying things about it in your mind. Repeat
this with another object, and then another, while still maintaining
an awareness of your body, and your breathing. Continue in
this state of mindfulness until you are ready to get up.
When you are sensing your body and your breath and the immediate
environment, you are more fully "in the moment." These
mindfulness exercises put your mind in a very receptive state
while removing mental distractions that prevent clear thinking.
They leave you ready to work mentally. Do a mindfulness exercise
before any important mental task and you'll find that you have
more focus and concentration.
A quick mindfulness exercise you can test right now: When
you are in the middle of any task and you feel a little stress,
stop. Take a moment to carefully watch yourself so you can identify
what is bothering you. Find everything you can. Are you expecting
something bad to happen? Is an argument from this morning still
going on just below the surface of your consciousness? Are you
worried about something? Is some part of your body in pain? Make
a note of everything you find.
Now deal with these thieves-of-concentration one by one. Make
the phone call that is on your mind, take an aspirin if you need
to, and apologize to whomever you were fighting with. Close your
eyes and concentrate on breathing deeply. Put things that are
on your mind on the list for tomorrow (in writing). Even if all
you can do is acknowledge that there is nothing you can do right
now, do that. After doing these quick mindfulness exercises,
you'll feel less stressed, and you'll be able to concentrate
more effectively on the tasks at hand. Try it.
Using a Meditation Trigger
One technique that some people have found useful for bringing
their mindfulness into everyday life, is the use of a "trigger"
as a reminder. This can be anything that you will regularly encounter
during your daily routine. For example, if you check your email
numerous times each day, you can develop the habit of stopping
to take a deep breath and become aware of your body and surroundings
each time you go to your email. Or you could even use going to
the bathroom as your trigger.
The idea is that once you consciously associate an activity
or item with the practice of becoming more mindful, and do so
often enough, you will make it an unconscious habit. Then, whenever
you engage in that activity or see that item (it could be your
desk, your car, clocks, or anything that works) you will find
yourself taking that deep breath and returning to the present
moment from your worries (which are usually in the past or an
For more basic meditations, visit the page on the
benefits of meditation.