Five easy mindfulness tools to make your day a little bit better
Mindfulness activities are simple but not easy. Often, the thing we need the most is staring us right in the face. Mindfulness is not some complex mystical practice. It’s more obvious than it first appears. In this article we’ll explore five easy mindfulness activities that you can use any time of the day to boost your mood, lower stress and energise your day.
How to practice mindfulness activities – examples
There is an easy trick to remember with mindfulness activities. Awareness is the key to mindfulness. The more awareness we bring to a task the more fully present we become to the moment.
Mindfulness put another way is a presence practice.
Attentiveness to the task increases our presence moment to moment. This is the first thing to remember when we begin to live mindfully. Here’s five mindfulness activities examples for everyday practice.
Karma yoga is the practice of daily tasks for the benefit of others. Lord Kirishna in the Bhagavad Gita describes karma yoga as the path to spiritual liberation through work. In lay-mans terms, karma yoga is the performing of one’s duties without attachment to the results.
A simple example of karma yoga would be a householder sweeping his home with a broom. Anotehr example might be a business woman earning money for her family. The important aspect of karma yoga as a mindfulness activity is the awareness of performing these tasks with a good heart and right intentions.
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Take a deep breath. Now, let out a long, low sigh. And repeat this for a few breaths. Bring your attention to each breath as it comes in and goes out. How does the breath feel as it passes your nostrils? Notice how your belly expands and contracts. Or does it?
How’s your breathing?
Many folks breath shallow, only lightly into the chest. This is a sure sign of stress and anxiety. How is your breathing? Deep and full belly breathing or tight constricted chest breathing?
Lie down flat on your back. Place a hand on your belly and one on your chest. Bring your awareness to your breath and notice the rise and fall of each hand as your breathe. Does the whole body respond as your breathe or is it just one area that moves?
A healthy breathing pattern starts with a full belly breath, passes through the diaphragm and rises into the chest as it reaches the clavicle (your collar bone that connects your arms and chest). It should look like a wave passing through the body.
Mindful walking is as easy as it sounds. Walking mindfully can be performed during any busy day without fuss or fanfare. SImply bring your awareness to each step. One foot in front of the other. If possible, remove your shoes – this mindfulness activity I best performed barefoot.
With each step ask yourself, ‘how does the earth feel beneath my feet?’. Feel the pull of gravity under the sole as each step moves you along. As the weight shifts from one leg to the other, how does that feel? Turn your focus inwards, what sensations do you experience as you walk?
Now, take a look around your immediate environment. What can you see? Are there birds flying? Flowers growing? Bees buzzing? Notice all the elements of your surroundings. Bring your full attention to this moment. How do you feel in this place?
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What is mindful eating? As above, in mindful walking, eating mindfully is the practice of taking each element of the meal with full awareness. Starting with the preparation of the meal, paying careful attention to how each ingredient is used.
Aum ah hum
A simple mindfulness eating practice is to imagine a tiny Buddha at our heart centre with his arms outstreched, gratfeully receiving the meal. As we eat we silently repeat the mantra ‘aum ah hum’.
If you don’t love every mouthful, eat only according to your hunger. Hunger is merely a sensation. Eat what you love and leave what you don’t. Mindful eating is a master key to understanding our cravings. When we master eating mindfully we take back control of our senses with strong discipline for a more balanced life.
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Take a short moment
Take a breath and just pause for amoment. Check in on how you feel. Does any feeling or emotion arise for you in this moment?
Most of our day is spent functioning on autopilot. One minute to the next we are constantly making decisions based on habit and routine. This our natural survival state that exists in our unconscious.
A more mindful life
Neural pathways are created based on our behaviour patterns in typical circumstances. These ‘shortcuts‘ are helpful to a point. Getting tasks complete and checking off the to-do list runs on these mental rails.
However, if we want to act with intent and purpose, it’s important to break out of these unconscious patterns. The first step in moving towards a more conscious way of being is to take a breath and pause. The next step after the breath can be a mindful, considered choice.
Download free mindfulness activities worksheets here.