Mindfulness has proven benefits for our mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing. Here are 14 mini mindfulness exercises you can try to start experiencing those benefits today.
1. Connect with your senses
Our senses are our gateway into the present moment. But when we are lost in thought, we don’t experience what our senses are picking up.
Pause to savour the aroma of your morning coffee, the smell of freshly cut grass, fresh baked bread, or a freshly peeled orange.
Notice how your clothing feels against your body, the cleansing warmth of a shower after a tough, sweaty workout.
Focus attention on the often overlooked sensations of everyday tasks and you will be amazed how much joy they can bring.
2. Spend quality time with yourself
Spend some quality time each day with yourself – even five minutes will do. Find a quiet place, put your mobile to one side, allow whatever you’re thinking or feeling to float to the surface, and just breathe it in.
Notice it, accept it, and sit in awareness.
3. Mix up your routine
It isn’t just the warm sunshine and break from work that makes us feel amazing on holidays. When we’re somewhere different we automatically become more present and mindful simply because there are so many new sights, sounds and smells to soak up.
But we don’t have to book a flight to feel such benefits. Try taking a different route to work, find a new cafe, visit a town you’ve never been before, or try a new activity.
Forget multi-tasking. Stop kidding yourself that you can genuinely write a well thought-out email whilst watching Netflix, and really do a good job of either. Why do we all think we can do three things at once?
Instead, focus on single activities at a time, not moving on to the next until the first is completed. And not just rushing through it so you can get to the next, but intentionally and carefully carrying it out in focused detail.
Notice how it feels to be completely connected and absorbed in an activity.
5. Connected Conversation
When in conversation with a colleague or friend give them your undivided attention. Focus fully on every word they say. Just listen, resisting the temptation to interrupt or offer your opinion. Trust that you will intuitively know the right thing to say next when it’s your turn to speak.
Not only will they feel truly heard, it will also help you feel supremely present.
6. Beware of ‘Time Travel’
When you find yourself reacting to a situation question whether you are responding to what is actually happening in the present or if a past occurrence might be influencing your reaction.
Say your friend is 10 minutes late, but you feel especially annoyed. Then you recall he was an hour late once that meant you missed kick-off and the first goal at a football match. You realise that you are still holding anger from the past event.
When you find yourself annoyed, take a breath and consider if this might be a ‘time travel’ reaction and adjust accordingly.
7. Journal Daily
Taking 10 minutes at the end of each day to reflect on your experiences, thoughts and feelings is a great way to develop self awareness of your emotions and patterns, allowing you to grow over time.
8. Listen to your heart
How often do you pay attention to your heart? Do you ever, really? Try it now. Focus your attention on your heart area and give it a few moments to tune in.
Do you notice any physical sensations? A gentle ache? A racing pulse? A tingling of excitement? Just focus and notice.
So often, especially as men, we cut off our feelings to get through the day, and it can be quite eye opening to realise just how many signs our body is giving us on a daily basis.
9. Savour Gratitude
When good things happen, try to savour the moment. Truly experience and enjoy your happiness.
How does it actually feel? Is there a physical sensation? If so, where? Really tune into it for a few moments rather than rushing on to the next activity.
10. Random Acts of Kindness
Doing something nice for somebody is a brilliant way to wake you both up to the present moment. Send a colleague a thank you card, deliver a friend some flowers, buy someone a coffee, or simply smile warmly at a passer-by.
11. Set your own everyday mindfulness triggers
Select an everyday occurrence like taking a shower or queuing for a coffee as a reminder to pause and turn your attention inwards for a few moments.
In these moments deepen your breathing, become aware of any tension you’re carrying and return to the present moment.
12. Mindful walking
Instead of leaving it to the last minute to leave the house before an appointment or catching the train, leave five minutes earlier and take your time.
Breathe deeply and notice the sights, sounds and smells around you. Experience them fully. Then turn your attention to the sensation of your feet walking on the ground. Does your heel or do your toes hit the ground first? Notice and tune into the rhythm of left, right, left, right. Continue breathing and focus fully on the act of walking.
Observe what is going on around you — the sights, sounds and life unfolding. You may be amazed to find a whole new world you hadn’t even noticed before.
13. Notice your posture
At random moments throughout the day focus on your body and notice how you are standing, sitting or lying.
Are you slouching? Are you tensing? Are you gritting your teeth? Crossing your legs? Leaning to one side? Breathe into any tension you feel until it passes.
14. Mindful eating
When you shovel down your dinner on autopilot while distracted by the TV, Instagram or constant conversation, you miss out on the delicious taste and smell of your food. You’re also less likely to feel satisfied and nourished, because you ‘missed out’ on the fact that you ate.
It can be helpful to remember this phrase: When you eat, eat. When you drink, drink. Focus all of your attention on what is in front of you and you’ll be surprised, not just how much fuller you feel, but also how much more delicious the food seems.