It’s a known fact that life can get a little hectic and out of control at times. We don’t always have the time nor the energy to deal with our emotions and collect our thoughts. Most likely, we then end up feeling quite stressed and a little out of sorts. Sound familiar?
Understandably, not all of us have the time to sit down and meditate for 30 or so minutes a day. However, it is rather crucial for you and your emotional well-being to to gain some balance and control in your life.
So, if you’re like me and are super busy 99.9% of the time then I suggest you give these simple and quick exercises a go.
- Mindful Breathing
This is really easy but also really effective. You have to breathe to survive anyway so you may as well give it another use alongside that! You can do this sat down or stood up, whichever is easiest for you, this exercise is extremely versatile. The only essential part is that you need be still and focus solely on your breathing for a minute or so.
Relax your body. Now, breathe. You really don’t need to do anything else. You don’t need to alter your breathing or anything like that, just breathe. Not long, not short, just natural. When one breath ends, the next breath begins. You might begin notice that your mind may begin to wander. Let it. Don’t direct your thoughts in any way, just let them take their own course. Just notice that your mind has wandered. After you’ve let your mind wander a little, gently redirect your attention back to the breathing. The whole purpose is to notice your breathing pattern, to really feel it as it you breath in and out. To become aware of your breathing and nothing else lets your mind take a well needed break, it’ll bring you back into the here and now, which is the entire point of mindfulness – being present.
- Mindful Observation
This is a very powerful exercise and it’s one of my favourites. This is a brilliant exercise for recognising and noticing the natural beauty around you, which is easily disregarded in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life.
So, get comfy and focus on an object that’s relatively close to your. This could be anything, a flower, a pot of pencils or the moon, whatever you want. Focus on it for a few minutes. Concentrate on your object – let go of your thoughts and worries about what to have for tea tonight or how much work you have to do later that day – just look at the object you’ve chosen. Notice the shape of it, the colours and maybe even the smell. Zero in on your object and take in every aspect of it’s formulation.
- Mindful Appreciation
All you have to do is recognise 5 things from your day that would usually go unappreciated. Things or people that you may take for granted – things that support your existence and make it possible for you to do things you do on a day-to-day basis. The whole point of this is to be grateful to things that may seem insignificant but are actually vitally important.
For example, the hot water for your shower, the stranger that smiles and says hello everyday on your way to work, your eyes for allowing you to see the beauty in the world. Just take a moment or two to really think about your 5 things.
Use a notebook or your phone to document 5 of these points each day. It might be helpful to look back at them at some point, to remind yourself that you are lucky and grateful for your life and the people that surround you.
- Mindful Listening
This particular exercise is tailored to open your ears to the sounds and noises around you in a non-judgemental way. Listening mindfully allows us to hear things in a neutral and present ideal that in turn lets us hear sound with preconception.
Choose a song to listen to – specifically one that you have never heard before. Don’t be tempted to go to your favourite playlist or radio station, choose something that you have not even heard of, let alone listened to.
Put your headphones on and close your eyes. Try really hard not to judge the music in any way, shape or form before it’s begun. Don’t register the genre or the artist. Even if you find that the music isn’t to your usual standard at first, carry on listening – listen to it properly. Take notice of the array of instruments used to create the music, the lyrics sung and then the combination of both the music and the words.
The idea is to become fully aware of the composition and to try your hardest to let go off any prejudgements you made before the beginning of the song. To listen to the sounds neutrally.
- Mindful Immersion
To me, this is the epitome of mindfulness. To completely and utterly immerse yourself into whatever it is you are doing. The idea is to untangle yourself from the busyness of your life and throw yourself into a typically mindless task, turning it into a mindful exercise. Take – washing dishes – as an example. Usually, you would get this menial task over and done with as soon as possible but instead, this time you will do it in your own time and use this an opportunity to unwind a little bit.
Get creative and notice things such as the sensation of the soap bubbles against your hands, the warmth of the water, the smoothness of the plates, so on and so on.
Instead of counting the seconds until your task is finally over, become aware of every movement and immerse yourself completely into what you are doing. You never know, you may even enjoy cleaning for once!So, basically – the whole idea of Mindfulness and the nature of these exercises to be in the moment, to really experience the present and notice the unnoticed. Mindfulness has massively helped me over time, I swear by it and have done an awful lot of research into it – give it a go and let me know what you think!