We live busy and fast-paced lives. Our minds are constantly being pulled in many directions by work tasks, social engagements, relationships, the media, future planning, past reflections, and all of the other things our day gets filled with. This constant scatter often leaves us feeling stressed, anxious, and on edge.
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like we can take a moment to relax. However, it’s important for our well-being that in the 24 hours we are granted each day we take at least some small moments for ourselves.
We may not feel like we have the time to sit down for a 20 minute meditation session, but the following simple and quick mindfulness exercises can help us de-clutter our mind and find some calm during our day.
1. Mindful Breathing
This exercise can be done anywhere at anytime because we are always breathing! Whether you’re standing, sitting, around people, by yourself, on the train—you get the point. With this exercise all you have to do is be still and focus on your breath. Maybe it’ll just be for 10 seconds; maybe you’ll choose to do it for one minute.
Start by bringing your attention to your breath and then deepening your breath. Let your breath flow effortlessly. Inhale fully into your abdomen and exhale from your abdomen. Each breath should last for about 6 seconds.
Let go of your thoughts and the other things you have to complete that day. Allow yourself to be still and just breathe for a few moments.
2. Mindful Observation
When we’re running around we often overlook the beauty in our natural environment. This simple exercise allows us to slow down and connect with what’s around us.
Choose something natural around you and focus on watching it for a short while. This could be a tree, flower, insect, person, water, the clouds or something else in your immediate environment.
Observe this thing with curiosity and let yourself be present in the moment. Relax into harmony with it for a few moments.
3. Mindful Awareness
This exercise brings more awareness and appreciation to everyday tasks.
Consider something you do everyday. Perhaps it’s turning on a light, opening your computer, or thinking a thought.
At the moment you turn the light on, stop to acknowledge your hands ability to turn on the light, your eyes ability to perceive the light, and the fact that you can access light at the flip of a switch. Similarly, the moment you open your computer you can appreciate the ability of your hands and your brain’s capacity to understand how to use a computer.
Check out Stoplights are Reminders to Take a Deep Breathfor ways you can bring mindful awareness to seemingly mundane or irritating moments.
Also check out 10 Ways to Defuse Negative Thoughts for ways to bring more mindful awareness to your thoughts.
More Than Just a Minute of Calm
These exercises allow us to cultivate more present moment awareness, which helps us to better notice and cope with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
Through regular practice of mindfulness exercises, we can spend less time on autopilot, where we’re led by previous negative experiences and fear of what the future holds. Instead, we strengthen our ability to root the mind in the present and approach life’s challenges with more clarity, calm, and intention.