We often pass by trees without observing various physical features of a tree. Today we are going to observe a tree mindfully by using majority of our senses
Steps of the exercise
At the end of this exercise, you will have noticed the features of the tree that never crossed your mind before.
When we have a cup of coffee, most of us do not even notice what the experience feels like. We are distracted by hundred things while having a coffee. One of the simple ways of implementing mindfulness is to be aware of what we eat or drink.
You will notice that when you are mindful of having a cup of coffee, it is an entirely different, rich and relaxing experience. Let us be mindful of having a cup of coffee.
1. Be actively aware of when you put coffee, water, milk, and sugar in your cup.
2. Notice the smell and sound when you stir it with a spoon.
3. Notice the warmth of cup in your hands, when you pick up your cup
4. Notice the smell of the coffee when you take your cup near your lips
5. Notice the warmth of the brim of cup on your lips
6. Notice the taste of the coffee in your mouth
7. Notice how it feels like when you swallow your sip of coffee
8. Notice general feeling of warmth while you continue taking your coffee
9. Just focus on having your coffee only- its smell, its taste, its warmth, etc
10. You will get distracted, it is normal. Just bring your focus back to having your coffee
11. Continue it until you finish your coffee.
That is being mindful while having your coffee. You can practice this anytime and anywhere. You can apply this exercise to other foods and drink as well.
Most of the time when we walk, our body and mind are at different places.Hence we miss most of the things that could enrich our lives during our walking. To use mindfulness during walking, we just have to make sure that our body and mind are at the same place. To walk mindfully means to be present minded during our walks.
You can use this exercise while walking from your car to your office, from your office to your car, in a local park or anytime you are walking.
When you walk while using all your five senses even walking becomes a mindfulness exercise. It becomes a rich and healing experience.
This is a common meditation practice. In this exercise, you focus on each part of the body one by one. We normally are not aware of physical sensations in various body parts as our mind is somewhere else. This exercise helps you to become aware of your body and its physical sensations. By scanning through your body, you may feel relaxed and healed.
This exercise can last up to 10 minutes.
Steps to follow
1. Lie down on a thick mat or your bed
2. Focus on the contact of your body with whatever you are lying on
3. Focus on sensations of your breath for few moments
4. Then bring your focus to your feet and notice any physical sensations there. If there are no sensations, don't worry, you don't have to create something that is not there. After few moments take a deep breath and on breathing out let go of your feet and
5. Then bring your focus on your ankles and notice any physical sensations present there. After few moments take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your ankles and
6. Then bring your focus on your lower legs and notice any physical sensations in your lower legs. After a while take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your lower legs and
7. Then bring your focus on your knees and notice any physical sensations in your knees. After few moments take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your knees and
8. Then bring your focus on your thighs for few moments and notice any physical sensations in your thighs. Then take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your thighs and
9. Then bring your focus on your pelvis and hips for few moments and notice any physical sensations there. Then take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your pelvis and hips and
10. Now bring your focus on your back for few moments and notice any physical sensations. Notice any physical sensations in your back. Then take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your back and
11. Now shift your focus to your lower abdomen for few moments and notice any physical sensations. Then take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your lower abdomen and
12. Then slowly shift your focus to your chest and notice any physical sensations in your chest
area. After few moments take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your chest and
13. Then focus on your both arms and hands for few moments and notice any physical sensations in these areas of your body. Then take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your both arms and hands and
14. Then bring your focus on your shoulders and neck and notice any physical sensations in these parts of your body. After few moments take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your shoulders and neck and
15. Then shift your focus on your face and head for and notice any physical sensations in your face and head area. After few moments take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your face and head
16. Finally, bring your focus on your whole body for few moments until your whole body is in your awareness and notice any physical sensations in your body. Then take a deep breath and on expiration let go of your whole body
17. Then slowly bring your whole attention to your breathing for few moments. Noticing whole process of inspiration and expiration. Noticing the movements of lower abdomen as your breath in and out. It is normal for our minds to drift or wander way. When you notice it. Just gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
17. When you are ready slowly end your exercise.
Safe place visualisation is a good exercise to relax when you are stressed. It can be used when you are anxious, stressed and feel overwhelmed by things around you. This activity involves imagining yourself in a place where you feel safe and relaxed. It can be a real place you have visited or an imaginary place that makes you feel comfortable. Before starting this exercise make sure you have a safe place in your mind that you will use for this activity.
You can practice this daily for few weeks or whenever you feel anxious or stressed.
1. Find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed for next 15-20 minutes where you can practice this exercise.
2. Sit, relax and take few deep breaths. Inhale through your nose, hold your breath counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Exhale through the mouth. Repeat this four times.
3. Now imagine yourself in the safe place you chose for yourself that makes you feel safe and relaxed.
4. What can you see? People, nature, colours or animals? Is it sunny or cloudy? Who is you with? What are they saying? Observe them in detail.
5. What can you hear in this safe place? Sounds, people speaking, wind blowing or waterfall sounds, sounds of animals? Focus on this for few moments.
6. What can you smell? Any smell of food, perfume, flowers, fresh air, grass, etc.? Focus on this for few seconds.
7. What can you touch in this safe place? People, grass, clothing, flowers, floor, etc.?
8. What can you taste? Any food you are eating?
9. Now use all your five senses and observe this place. Notice how relaxed, safe and happy you feel in this place. Stay there for a couple of minutes.
10. When you are ready to finish, take few deep breaths again and end the exercise.
11. Remember you can visualise this place whenever you want to.
Loving-kindness meditation is an exercise to develop compassion and kindness. Though it is part of all the main religions. Meditation guru Sharon Salzberg popularised it in the west. You can practice this meditation to develop compassion and kindness.
A study by Helen Weng has reported that daily practice of loving-kindness meditation can not only increase empathy, but it can also make one more altruistic. Thus compassion, kindness, and altruism can be learned through an exercise like loving-kindness.
You can practice this meditation anytime. With regular practice, one can develop compassion and kindness.
Steps of exercise
1. Find a comfortable place to practice this
2. Take a few deep and slow breaths. Inspire slowly through your nose and exhale through your mouth
3. Close your eyes and imagine you are in front of someone you love.
4. Speak to him/her with statements of love and kindness. You can say something like "May you be safe," "May you be healthy," "May you be happy," "May you be successful," "May you live with ease" etc. Continue this for few minutes.
5. While your eyes are closed, now turn your focus to yourself and start saying same things to yourself. You can tell yourself something like
"May I be safe," "May I be healthy," May I be happy, "May I be successful" etc.
If saying above statements to yourself is uncomfortable for you, imagine you are looking into a mirror and look at yourself in the mirror. Start saying same things to your image in the mirror. You don't have to imagine yourself in the mirror. That part is only for those who feel uncomfortable to say such words directly to themselves.
6. As you get used to this meditation, you can slowly imagine saying these statements of compassion and love to your family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues, community, etc. Once you have practiced this exercise for some time with yourself and loved ones, You can then include people who have been difficult to you. It may be hard and may evoke negative emotions. Try to send kindness and love to them and develop understanding we are all humans. It may help to deal with resentment.
The sense of smell is very powerful. It can help us to connect with the present, but it can also trigger memories. A smell can remind you of a particular person or memory or place or event or a particular thing. Therefore it is important you choose smells that make you happy and not sad.
The smell of roses, garden, ocean, forest or chocolate cookies, scented oils and scented candles can soothe us, but they can also bring us into the present and help us to be more mindful.
Go to a garden or local park to smell a rose. Go to ocean and smell the ocean. Go to a kitchen and smell food. Burn a scented candle in your room. Apply some scented oils to your body.
During this simple mindfulness exercise try to put all your focus on what you can smell around you.
When our emotions control our mind, we all can make our decisions solely on our emotions. When we do that, we are using our Emotion Mind( Linehan 1993). Having emotions is not bad, for example, parents make all types of sacrifices for their children mainly because of their emotions. But being controlled solely by emotions can be a problem and lead to distress and misery. Strong emotions can distort reality, facts, and perception.
We also have a Rational Mind ( Linehan 1993) which we use to weigh facts that helps us to make decisions rationally. We use logic and reason to make decisions by the rational mind. Managing your finances, doing a crossword or a doctor making a decision about what medication to use in their patients needs a rational mind. Again basing our decisions solely on rational thinking can sometimes be problematic and appear cold. It is easier to use rational mind when you are healthy, well fed and have had a good sleep but it is difficult to use it when you are not feeling well, feel stressed and feel emotionally overwhelmed.
Decisions are often healthy when we use both emotion mind and rational mind together through what is often called Wise Mind( Linehan 1993).
Experts have proposed that we may have what they call a wise mind that can help us to make difficult decisions by striking a balance between rational mind and emotion mind. Decisions taken by the wise mind can be a source of satisfaction, contentment, and long-term happiness. They suggest the centre of wise mind is in the gut. They also call it enteric brain ( stomach brain). One of the features of wise mind is intuition.
Experts like Linehan suggest that we can access this wise mind to make decisions through mindfulness. Accessing wise mind through mindfulness is an important skill in Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) as per Linehan.
Steps to access wise mind are:
1. Find a quite place where you won't be disturbed for about 5 minutes.
2. Set a timer to do this exercise
3. You can close your eyes or keep them open
4. Put your hand on your sternum ( middle chest bone). Slide your hand downwards until sternum ends. The area between the end of sternum and belly button is the area of Wise mind.
5. Take few deep breaths and relax
6. Take a deep breath through your nose and feel your lungs getting expanded. Exhale through your mouth and feel the air leaving around your lips. Continue this for few breaths.
7. Continue taking deep breaths and feel your hand over your stomach rising and lowering with each inhalation and exhalation.
8 Bring your attention to wise mind ( area under your hand). Continue taking deep breaths.
9. Think about any thought or problems or decisions that you have to make.. How does it feel in the Wise mind while you have these thoughts. Ask for guidance from your wise mind about these decisions. Notice what thoughts or solution arise from your wise mind.
10. How do you feel in your Wise Mind? What sensations do you feel in your Wise Mind when you think about these dilemmas, problems, thoughts and important decisions
Now that you know how to access your Wise Mind, you can use it to make important decisions. See how it feels in your wise mind when you plan to make a decision. Does it feel good? If you feel good about the action, you intend to take, then maybe it is the right decision. Does it feel uncomfortable? Then maybe you need to evaluate other options.
It is important to maintain a dairy of decisions you make while using Wise Mind and check if you feel happy in the long-term after you have made the decisions. That will he confirm to you that you are accessing Wise Mind. It is also important to consider all relevant facts, risks of taking and not making decisions before using Wise mind.
Linehan, MM (1993). Dialectical Behavioural Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder. New York Guilford Press
Linehan, MM (1993). Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder. New York Guilford Press
McKay M, Wood J and Brantley J (2007) The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook. Practical DBT Exercises for learning mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotion regulation and distress tolerance. New Harbinger Publications
Most of us eat without being aware what we are eating. Being mindful about our eating can have many benefits including enjoying food, drawing pleasure, cultivating gratitude, not overeating and feeling sated. The purpose of this exercise is to eat slowly and with full attention to our eating.
When to do this exercise
Apply this exercise to any food you eat during the day.
Steps of exercise
1. Eat in silence. If possible with no phone, TV, etc
2. Take few deep breaths and relax
3. Notice why are you eating? Are you hungry?
4. Look at the food you are eating
5. Pay attention to all the ingredients it contains
6. Is it healthy or unhealthy?
7. How does it look?
8. Reflect on the people who might have worked behind the scene to bring your food in front of you. Develop gratitude and thank all who might have played a part
9. Notice the smell of your food
10. How does it taste, pay attention to flavour, its texture, can you identify all ingredients
11. Savour your food intentionally
12. Chew your food slowly up to 15-20 times
13. Put your cutlery down between bites
14. Pay attention as you swallow it, notice the movements of swallowing, notice when it goes down the back of your throat.
15. Pay your attention to the feeling of fullness developing as your stomach gets filled slowly
16. If your attention drifts away from the food, it is ok. Don't judge yourself. Just bring your attention back to eating your food
17. Repeat steps 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14,15 and 16 until you finish your food
When you eat mindfully with full attention, you will notice eating can be a rich experience. If you develop the habit of eating mindfully, you don't have to worry about finding a particular time for mindfulness. Mindfulness can be applied to our daily acts of eating, drinking, having a coffee or having a shower.
Most of us, when they have a shower, don't even notice what the experience feels like. We are distracted by hundred things while having a shower. One of the ways of implementing mindfulness is to be aware what we eat or drink or hear or watch or even having a shower.You will notice that when you are mindful of having a shower, it is an entirely different, rich and relaxing experience. Let us be mindful of having a shower in the morning or evening
1. Notice how it feels on your skin and under your feet as you stand before opening the shower
2. Notice how it feels in your hand when you open the shower
3. Pay attention to the sound of water coming out of the shower
4. Pay attention to how water feels on your head and as it trickles down your body
5. Pay attention to the temperature of water. Does it feel warm or cold?
6. Pay attention how it feels when applying shampoo to your hair
7. Pay attention to how it feels applying shower gel to your body
8. Pay attention to the smell of shampoo and gel
9. As you wash off shampoo and gel from your hair and body, how does water feel on your head, face, body
10. It is Ok if at anytime you get distracted by thoughts. Without judging yourself, just bring your attention back to the experience of having a shower.
10. Imagine your body getting rinsed and cleaned of all impurities and dirt.
11. Imagine the feeling of cleanliness developing as water trickles down your body
12. When you have finished shower, pay attention to the touch of towel on your body
You can probably continue this for about 10 minutes. Being mindful during a shower like this will make the experience more relaxing and enriching.
Mindfulness has been a part of eastern culture including Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam for centuries. It is well documented in their traditional scriptures. These exercise can be found in most of the books or material on mindfulness. More recently Mindfulness has been found helpful in dealing with stress, anxiety, negative emotions, low mood, pain tolerance and insomnia. We will be regularly uploading various mindfulness exercises here. Keep checking this page regularly.