Do mindfulness exercises really work? Research says yes, but, for most of us, finding the time to practice mindfulness just becomes another item on the ever-growing list of things to do. Let’s look at the reasons why mindfulness should be a priority in your life.
Your morning alarm goes off, and, instinctually, you hit the snooze button. Just a few more minutes, right?!
Instead of falling right back to sleep, you lie in bed, just hating responsible adulting. Dreading the thought of getting up, you close your eyes and fretfully try to get back to sleep. Unfortunately, sleep never comes.
Your thoughts begin to shift from your recent dreams to the infamous to-do lists. Everything from what you’re going to wear to what you need to get done over the next month starts creeping into your consciousness. The thoughts come slowly at first, and then, like a tsunami wave, the relentless commentary in your head takes over.
Finally, if for no other reason than to get out of your head, you climb out of bed. You wake up, not to the present, but the future. When you begin your day in this state, you will probably end it in the same. Living in the future robs you of the present.
Imagine a morning that begins with a sense of gratitude, free from anxious thoughts and desires. Mindfulness exercises are the bridge between the future and the present.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is more than just being present: it’s about deliberately and consciously moving through your daily activities, recognizing in every moment the beauty and majesty of your life without judgment. Mindfulness is not about removing all the obstacles and challenges of life. Instead, it works to interrupt self-sabotaging behaviors, and, in its place, reveal mindful solutions. The 8fit team is all about helping you own your well-being, and mindfulness exercises are excellent tools to make that happen.
Experts at the Mayo Clinic say that mindfulness is a form of meditation, which helps improve various health conditions. Some of these include:
High blood pressure
Routine meditation will help you detach from the daily pressures of life. Mindfulness exercises are a simple way for you to do just that. There are five core competencies to consider when practicing mindfulness exercises:
Beginner’s Mind: Nurture a mind that’s willing to see things as if for the first time
Observation: Consciously pay attention
Awareness: Use all your senses to experience life
Nonjudgment: View yourself and your experiences without judgment
Self-compassion: Trust in yourself and your intuition
8 Mindfulness Exercises for the Noisy Mind
We live in a restless digital world where distraction and procrastination are the norm. Coupled with the expectations of life—especially of the self-imposed ones—this generally leads to feelings of anxiousness and stress, devastates both your physical and emotional well-being.
Realistically, stress will always be a part of your life. That’s why it’s so crucial to develop skills that help you calmly respond to life’s stressors. Here is a list of eight mindfulness exercises to help get you started on your journey to the present.
For each of the mindful exercises, you will need to find a quiet place and begin by engaging all of your senses.
1. Mindful Observation
Choose an object. It doesn’t matter the type of object you choose. The goal of this exercise is to notice and appreciate simple elements in your environment.
You can sit or stand. Just make sure you are comfortable.
Look at the object you’ve selected and slowly scan it.
Look at the object from a beginner’s mind. Having never seen the object, you must visually explore and connect with its energy and purpose in the world.
2. Mindful Awareness
This is simply about recognizing the beauty in the simple things. It could be the simple act of sitting in a chair. Notice the chair: notice how the chair holds you, how it supports the weight of your body. Is it comfortable?
To practice mindful awareness, find moments in the day to appreciate an action you are taking and just observe your interaction with the activity and your environment.
3. Mindful Breathing
Start by breathing slowly, recognizing your breath as it enters and exits your body.
Make sure that you inhale and exhale completely. Take a full breath, pause, and slowly exhale.
Let go of your thoughts and follow your breath, noticing the life force that is present in that simple action.
Listen intently to the sound of your breath. Again, it’s okay if thoughts start creeping in. Just let it happen and gradually come back to your breath.
4. Mindful Engagement
This exercise is about mindfully completing everyday activities. Instead of rushing to get things done, take the time to appreciate and notice every detail about completing a task.
For example, if you’re cooking a meal, pay attention to every facet of the meal prep. Notice the aromas and the feeling of the ingredients in your hand as you progress through the meal prep.
5. Walking Meditation
Find a path of 10 to 20 feet that you can walk without obstruction or distraction.
Begin walking slowly.
Be deliberate and feel each step you take.
Be mindful of the sensations you are feeling and the movements you are making as you near the end of the path.
Consider the agility and grace needed to maintain balance.
Turn around and continue to walk with purpose and awareness.
Repeat this process for at least five minutes.
6. Sitting Meditation
Find a comfortable position to sit.
Gently lay your hands on your lap, keep your back straight, and put your feet flat on the ground.
Focus on your breath as it moves effortlessly in and out of your body.
It’s okay if physical sensations or thoughts interrupt your meditation. Just allow yourself to acknowledge them and return your focus to your breath.
7. Body Scan Meditation
Lie on your back with your arms and legs extended at your sides and place your palms facing up.
Close your eyes and begin focusing your attention on each part of your body.
Complete the scan in a systematic approach from top to bottom or vice versa.
Again, be mindful of every sensation, emotion, and thought related to each part of your body.
8. End-of-Day Ritual
Acknowledge that the way you wind down at the end of the day will significantly impact how you fall asleep, as well as the quality of your sleep.
Turn off all technology about 30 minutes before your bedtime.
Practice one of the mindfulness exercises in this article, or do a more structured or guided meditation.
The intent of mindfulness exercises is to facilitate a mindset that allows you to regulate your emotions. By deliberately paying attention to what happens around and inside you, you can cultivate a mindful mindset. With a mindful mindset, you are better equipped to handle the challenges of everyday life. You will also find that you are happier.
Mindfulness is a choice. Choose to improve your health by learning to live in the moment. If you need a virtual buddy to keep you on track, download the 8fit app.
Benefits of Mindfulness https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201303/benefits-mindfulness
Mindfulness Intervention for Stress Eating to Reduce Cortisol and Abdominal Fat among Overweight and Obese Women: An Exploratory Randomized Controlled Study http://downloads.hindawi.com/journals/jobe/2011/651936.pdf
Prior Meditation Practice Modulates Performance and Strategy Use in Convergent- and Divergent-Thinking Problems http://bernhard-hommel.eu/Meditation%20and%20creativity%202.pdf
The psychological effects of meditation: a meta-analysis. https://puredhamma.net/wp-content/uploads/Psychological-effects-of-meditation-Sedlmeir-2012.pdf
What are the benefits of mindfulness https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner