In this busy world of ours, the mind is constantly pulled from pillar to post, scattering our thoughts and emotions and leaving us feeling stressed, highly-strung and at times quite anxious. Most of us don’t have five minutes to sit down and relax, let alone 30 minutes or more for a meditation session. But it is essential for our well being to take a few minutes each day to cultivate mental spaciousness and achieve a positive mind-body balance. So if you are a busy bee like me, you can use these simple mindfulness exercises to empty your mind and find some much-needed calm amidst the madness of your hectic day.
The following four exercises take very little effort and can be done pretty much anywhere at any time:
1. Mindful Breathing
This exercise can be done standing up or sitting down, and pretty much anywhere at any time. All you have to do is be still and focus on your breath for just one minute. Start by breathing in and out slowly. One breath cycle should last for approximately 6 seconds. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, letting your breath flow effortlessly in and out of your body. Let go of your thoughts. Let go of things you have to do later today or pending projects that need your attention. (www.pocketmindfulness.com)
2. Mindful Observation
This exercise is simple but incredibly powerful because it helps you notice and appreciate seemingly simple elements of your environment in a more profound way. The exercise is designed to connect us with the beauty of the natural environment, something that is easily missed when we are rushing around in the car or hopping on and off trains on the way to work. Choose a natural object from within your immediate environment and focus on watching it for a minute or two. This could be a flower or an insect, or even the clouds or the moon. (www.pocketmindfulness.com)
3. Mindful Awareness
This exercise is designed to cultivate a heightened awareness and appreciation of simple daily tasks and the results they achieve. Think of something that happens every day more than once; something you take for granted, like opening a door, for example. At the very moment you touch the doorknob to open the door, stop for a moment and be mindful of where you are, how you feel in that moment and where the door will lead you. (www.pocketmindfulness.com)
4. Mindful Listening
This exercise is designed to open your ears to sound in a non-judgmental way, and indeed to train your mind to be less swayed by the influence of past experiences and preconception. So much of what we “feel” is influenced by past experience. For example, we may dislike a song because it reminds of us of a breakup or another period of life when things felt negative. So the idea of this exercise is to listen to some music from a neutral standpoint, with a present awareness that is unhindered by preconception. Select a piece of music you have never heard before. You may have something in your own collection that you have never listened to, or you might choose to turn the radio dial until something catches your ear. (www.pocketmindfulness.com)
About the Author
Francisco is a 30 year experienced Fitness Professional certified in Personal Training, Group Fitness Training, Pilates Training, Yoga Training, Zumba and Spinning Instructor. He is a BaySport Assistant Fitness Program Manager in San Francisco. He enjoys teaching Group Fitness classes. He also enjoys spending time gardening and riding his bike throughout the Berkeley Hills.