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Being mindful sounds like something we should all naturally be able to do. After all, we’re in our heads 100% of the day, right? In reality—just as you have to work out regularly to keep your muscles in shape—you need to practice mindfulness in order to train your brain to be fully present and aware. The good news is, you don’t have to be a meditation master to practice mindfulness. Read on to learn more about what mindfulness is, how it can benefit your life, and several easy mindfulness exercises you can start implementing today.
Being mindful is all about being aware of what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing in the present moment, without any judgement or need to take action. In our increasingly distracted world, training your brain to stay focused like this is a challenge—and one that’s worth working on for your mental health.
Mindfulness meditation exercises have been scientifically shown to have a number of benefits for mental and physical health, self-care, and general life satisfaction. For instance, mindfulness exercises for anxiety and stress can help people relax and avoid immediate negative reactions to challenging situations. Mindfulness exercises for kids have been shown to improve their ability to regulate difficult emotions (this works for adults, too).
If you’re wondering why mindfulness exercises do not work for some people, it may be that you just haven’t found the right mindfulness practice for you.
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So what are mindfulness exercises that can help you improve your ability to focus on the present moment? Read on for seven great mindfulness meditation exercises to try.
1. Mindful Breathing
Breath is the basis of most mindfulness meditation exercises, so simply focusing on the sensations of breathing is a good way to start being mindful. Start by breathing naturally, noticing how the breath feels coming in and out of your nose or mouth. If any thoughts come up, notice them and then return your focus to the breath. If you need help focusing, try counting your breaths, resetting the count to zero each time you get distracted. Even just five minutes of this simple meditation can have profound benefits!
2. Body Scan
To practice the body scan, slowly focus your attention on each part of your body—from the top of your head down to your toes—noticing any sensations or even discomfort as you go, but not trying to change or fix anything. This is one of the more popular mindfulness exercises for anxiety because you can work on noticing the sensations of stress in your body without having to react to them.
3. Five Senses Exercise
The five senses exercise involves tuning your senses to the environment around you, taking a moment to note five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. This is one of the best mindfulness exercises for kids because it’s so easy to explain to them, but it’s great for folks looking to practice mindfulness at any age.
4. Chakra or Energy Meditation
This is similar to a body scan, but instead you’re paying attention to your energy and emotions throughout your body. Since this is a slightly more advanced mindfulness meditation practice, you may want to start with the guided practice below.
5. Walking Meditation
Walking meditation is a great way to practice mindfulness out in nature. Go on a walk—ideally somewhere peaceful—and notice how it feels as each part of your foot hits the ground, and any sights or sounds around you. Learn more about how to practice walking meditation here!
6. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a great way to sneak mindfulness practice into your everyday life! Next time you’re eating a meal or snack, slow down and focus all of your senses on the experience of eating: what does your food look like, smell like, taste like, feel like as you chew it? Keep your attention on this as you take each bite.
7. Creative Mindfulness Exercises
You can also integrate mindfulness into your creative practice, paying close attention to every sensation you experience as you create your art, or using simple, repetitive drawing practices to quiet your thoughts and focus on the moment at hand. Play around until you find a creative practice that helps you truly center your mind!
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