The world keeps spinning, and it’s a struggle to keep up with the constant rush. Mindfulness meditation exercises prevent us from losing our focus.
What is mindfulness meditation, and what exercises can we do to keep ourselves centred? We answer these questions in this article.
What is mindfulness meditation?
Mindfulness refers to being fully engaged with whatever it is we are doing. It also means being free from judgement or distractions. Being mindful means being aware of our emotions without being overwhelmed by them.
Therefore, mindfulness meditation develops this skill and allows us to transfer it to our daily lives. Exercises in mindfulness meditation teach us not to be reactive to thoughts or feelings. You’ll find them helpful when you face difficult situations.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
The most compelling reason to try exercises in mindfulness meditation is that they benefit the mind. Studies show that mindfulness eases anxiety and reduces stress in patients with depression.
Mindfulness meditation changes our brains significantly. It affects the amygdala, allowing us to regulate emotions and develop empathy. One study found that Autistic participants showed prosocial behaviours. Having less emotional baggage also enables us to be more compassionate to those in need.
Also, did you know that being mindful enlarges the brain? Mindfulness exercises increase the grey matter in it. Research also suggests that mindfulness helps us to tune out distractions because it slows activity in our Default Node Network. Our memories improve, and we can recall information. Those who practice mindfulness are also less emotionally reactive than others. Mindful regulation also reduces anxiety-related stress.
Another boon of mindfulness practice is that it encourages healthy eating, which promotes weight loss in turn. It teaches us to savour the food we eat and to be thankful for life’s small blessings.
Mindfulness techniques increase relationship satisfaction. It lets us and those around us feel optimistic and accept one another. It also benefits new parents. Mindful parents show a tendency to be happier with their children than others. Their children have better-developed social skills than others as well.
Short Mindfulness Meditation Exercises
Exercises that facilitate mindfulness meditation don’t have to be challenging. Start with those that you can do for a few minutes or even seconds at a time. Any effort that goes towards mindfulness has its rewards, no matter how small.
1. Stretch and yawn
Make it a point to yawn and stretch for ten seconds each hour. Do a fake yawn if necessary, because real ones will follow. Open your mouth wide and say ‘ahh’ as you exhale. Observe how the yawn disrupts your flow of thought.
Notice any tightness and say ‘ease.’ Wait for a further 20 seconds before returning to what you were doing.
2. Give Me A Hug
This exercise is ideal for bonding and is somewhat amusing. Hug someone and take three big breaths together. Your breathing will cause them to settle into this activity even if they don’t breathe with you.
3. Gently Massage Your Fingers
Lower your eyes. Then, move the finger of your right hand up and down the outside of the left fingers. After you’ve done this, use your left hand to stroke the outside of your right fingers.
4. Eat Something Mindfully
Take your favourite food and eat it mindfully. Savour it and express your thanks for it between bites. Don’t rush; make sure that you go through the process slowly, using all your senses to experience it.
Then pop it into your mouth gently and be in awe of how it tastes. Take special note of its texture. Then smile, knowing how astounding it feels in your mouth.
5. Clench your fingers into a fist and breathe into it.
Make a fist and turn it facing down. Then, clench it tightly. Face your fist upward and breathe into it. You should notice yourself feeling calmer and more alert than before.
6. Take a Deep Breath.
Stand and breathe. Feel how connected you are to the Earth. Gaze downwards and observe your physical sensations or emotions as you exhale. Notice your positive feelings as you inhale. Take note of something in your environment and be thankful for how beautiful it is.
7. Breathe Mindfully for a Minute
Observe where you sense your breath. You may feel it in the rise and fall of your stomach or chest. You may wish to lengthen the inhale and exhale, or breathe naturally. Refocus on your breath when it wanders. Do this for a minute.
Tips for Practicing Mindfulness
These exercises for mindfulness meditation won’t have any effect unless you have the right focus. Bear these tips in mind when you’re practising these exercises.
1. Develop Concentration
Concentration is the backbone of mindfulness. Mindfulness is an airplane, and you are its pilot. Focus is the engine that keeps the plane flying. It’s the reliable partner of mindfulness and is an active force. Concentration happens when you make a conscious decision to think about what you are doing.
Your mind will be all over the place when you first practice mindfulness. You may find yourself thinking about random thoughts every few minutes. However, the peace you get makes it well worth it.
2. Pick simple objects
You may want to meditate on simple objects at first. Try mindful breathing for a few weeks. All you have to do is be aware of your breath. Think about each exhale and inhale. Don’t worry if your mind seems chaotic; it may be so at first till it settles. Stop what you’re doing for thirty minutes each day until it becomes a habit.
They will be the anchor for your mindfulness practices until you become more skilled at it. Take your time to develop mindfulness. You’ll gain nothing from rushing and only become discouraged.
3. Sit often
Sitting meditation is an essential mindfulness practice. It involves sitting in a distraction-free zone and centring yourself. Seating yourself is crucial for getting yourself quiet. Think of it as a tool to keep your mind sharp.
Mindfulness means being non-judgemental. Don’t label your feelings negatively, as feeling angry or stressed is common. Mindfulness practices may make you frustrated at first, but don’t be overwhelmed if you cannot concentrate for a few minutes.
5. Prioritise mindfulness
Prioritise mindfulness as you would anything in life. Do this right from the beginning, so that it becomes a habit. Place your ‘habit energy’ on the crucial task of being mindful. You’ll find yourself drawn to your old ways occasionally, but putting effort into it will give it more push.
6. Force Yourself to Slow Down
We have learned to be as productive as possible. We rush around so much that we cannot live in any other way. Remember that mindfulness meditation practices and exercises calm the mind. As you walk from one room to another, enjoy moments of mindfulness.
You may find it hard to let go of thoughts about that big presentation or that all-important test at first, but do so you must. You’ll find that giving your brain some rest during the day is what you need to accomplish your tasks.
8. Have fun
Most of all, have fun as you engage in mindfulness meditation. You may find yourself wondering how much longer you have left to go as you sit and try to be mindful. Push through the difficulty, and you’ll succeed.
Acknowledge all thoughts and push them away. Bring your concentration back to being mindful.
9. Don’t make excuses
Don’t accept the reasons for not being aware. You’ll find yourself succeeding in all your endeavours if you make it a top priority.
In all, exercises for practising mindfulness meditation will enable you to live a balanced, successful, and harmonious life. Try these and see the difference they make for yourself.