3 Simple Mindfulness Exercises

Minfulness Exercises

Mindfulness Exercises to Overcome Toxic Stress- written by Alan Anderson

In my previous post, I outlined why mindfulness is important to keep your brain healthy. So, here are three of my favorite yet simple mindfulness exercises. You can use any time to keep your brain healthy and functioning at it’s peak.

Three Mindfulness Exercises

The simplest exercise to try out when you next feel stressed and can’t focus is called ‘the five senses’.  It’s so simple you can do it anywhere and anytime. In fact no one will even notice you are practicing a mindfulness exercise.

mindfulness exercises -senses

Mindfulness Exercises #1 – The Five Senses

I call the five senses exercise my countdown to calmness. It is one of my favorite mindfulness exercises because it’s so simple but works really well.

When you are feeling stressed or anxious, simply take a few minutes from what you are doing and ask yourself the following series of questions to engage your senses.

Exercise Sequence

  • What are Five things I can see around me?

Take a few moments to scan your environment and see what pops out at you. You can make this more challenging by asking what are five (color) things around me. Now go onto the next question.

  • What are Four things I can Feel?

Take a few moments to notice sensations in and on your body. Now ask the next question.

  • What are Three things I can hear? Take a moment to really listen and them move onto the last question
  • Then, what are Two things I can smell? This can be quite a difficult question as we often don’t even notice even discreet smells. Now answer the final question.
  • Finally, what is One thing I can taste?

Don’t get hung up on the number of each senses. If you can’t reach the number you have asked, just move on to the next question. This five senses exercise is a very quick and simple way of grounding ourselves and creating a state change in our brain. If you repeat this a few times each day when you are finding it difficult to focus or you are feeling stressed or trapped in your thoughts.

Now, try the second exercise which is also very short yet effective and grounding us in the now.

mindfulness exercises

Mindfulness Exercises #2 – Take Ten Breaths

 As the name of this exercise suggests, we are using our breath to switch our brain into a mindful present state. When you are feelings stressed or locked in your thinking, simply take a short break and shift your focus to your breathing while you take ten deep and slow breaths.

Exercise Sequence

  • As you take each breath notice the sensation in your body.
  • The entering your nostrils, the rise and fall of your abdomen as your breath moves gently in and out.
  • Focus on the sensations that your breathing creates.
  • As your thoughts rise as they will, simply observe them and then gently shift your focus back to your breathing and the sensations it is creating right now.
  • Then, as each thought rises, allow it to pass by and notice that the emotions of those thoughts also pass life a wave on the sand.
  • As we continue our ten breaths simply become the observer of any thoughts and feelings that arise without judging them or engaging with them.
  • We allow them to pass and gently shift our focus back to our breathing and the sensations it is creating.

The ten breaths exercise is a powerful way of neutralizing toxic thoughts and feelings that can overwhelm us.

mindfulness exercises -body scan

Mindfulness Exercises #3 – The Body Scan

The body scan is a powerful and effective exercise of beginners. However, it requires a little more time out from your day to day activities than others. It requires you sit quietly in a chair or lay down while you shift your awareness to scanning your entire body. So, this exercise may help you feel relaxed. However, your intent should be about maintaining your focus on the sensations your feel from each part of your body as you scan them one by one.

Exercise Sequence

  • Find a place where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes.
  • Then, either sit in a chair or lie down on a mat or bed,which ever you find most comfortable
  • Now, gently close your eyes and start by shifting your attention to your breath as it flows in and out. On each out breath feel your body sinking into your chair or mat or bed as your body relaxes
  • Keep your focus on the sensation in your body as you continue to gently breath in and out.
  • Now shift your awareness to the bottom of your feet. What sensation do you feel as you focus on your feet as you complete one or two breaths?
  • After every few breaths, move your attention through your body and hold this attention on each specific part of your body and feel the sensations.
  • If your mind wanders off onto other thoughts just let them float by and then gently return your focus to your body scan
  • Complete this exercise by scanning every part of your body noticing the sensations as you go.

You can adjust the level of focus on each part of your body as you see fit, which means you can make this a five-minute exercise or fifteen-minute exercise.

Start off more generally and as you gain experience get more and more specific when scanning your body.

At the end of each body scan take a few moments to generally scan your whole body.

What Next?

I hope you find these mindfulness exercises as useful as I did to reduce stress and anxiety. The key, like any exercise, is to keep practicing every day.  For me, making mindfulness exercises a habit was one of the best things I ever did for my own health and well-being. In fact, I still use them for managing any stressful situations that are a part of life.

Here are other posts that you may find interesting-

Mindful Living – 7 Tactics for Living Powerfully

Learning How to Meditate Saved My Life

11 Easy Steps to Finding Inner Peace

Understanding Mindfulness in Plain English

How to Practice Mindfulness for Health

If you are interested in enhancing your ability to become mindful, check out one of my favorite resources…  ‘7 minute mindfulness’

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