Four mindfulness exercises

Here are four useful exercises that you can do to experiment with mindfulness . . .

1. A mindful breathing exercise

  • Give yourself a few minutes to sit quietly.
  • Notice your breathing.
  • Pay attention to your breath going in and coming out.
  • Try to let your attention focus on the bottom of your in-breath.
  • Actively ‘let go’ as you breathe out.
  • When you notice that your thoughts have wandered, always bring your attention back to your breathing.
  • Spend a few minutes bringing your attention back to the centre in this way.
  • This can lead to a state of feeling calm and secure.

2. A three step breathing space meditation

by Vidyamala Burch from Breathworks

3. A mindful observation exercise

  • Be aware of your hand on a cool surface (e.g. a table or a glass of cold water).
  • Be aware of your hand on a warm surface (e.g. your other hand).
  • Pay attention to, and try to sense, your stomach and your shoulders.
  • Stroke just above your upper lip. Stop stroking.
  • Notice how long it takes before you cannot sense your upper lip any longer.
  • ‘Watch’ the first two thoughts that come into your mind – just notice them.
  • Imagine that your mind is a conveyor belt and that thoughts and feelings are coming down the belt. Put each thought or feeling in a box near the belt.
  • Count the thoughts or feelings as you have them.
  • If you find yourself becoming distracted, observe that too. Observe yourself, as you notice that you are being distracted.
Note: It is usual to have to start and re-start several times when you practise ‘stepping back’ and observing in this way.

4. A ‘describing’, non-judgemental exercise

  • Practise labelling thoughts in groups, such as ‘thoughts about others’ or ‘thoughts about myself’.
  • Use the ‘conveyor belt’ exercise described above. As the thoughts and feelings come down the conveyor belt, imagine sorting them into boxes, e.g. one box for thoughts, one box for sensations in your body, one for urges to do something, etc.