As you go about your day, do you often feel like your mind is racing a mile a minute and you can't seem to focus on anything for more than a few seconds? Do you feel like you're constantly on edge and stressed out? If so, it might be time to start incorporating some mindfulness exercises into your daily routine.
Just like physical exercise helps you build and strengthen your muscles, mental exercises like mindfulness help you create mental "muscles" that allow you to be more present, focused, and calm. And just like physical muscles, these mental muscles need regular exercise to stay in shape.
One of the best ways to exercise your mindfulness muscles is through mindful meditation exercises. And the best part? You don't need any special equipment or a gym membership to do them! Below, we've outlined three simple exercises you can start doing today to help you become more mindful and calm.
The first exercise is sitting meditation. Find a quiet, comfortable spot where you won't be disturbed. Sit on the floor cross-legged if you can, but if that's not comfortable, a chair will work just fine. Take several deep breaths to calm your mind and body. Then, begin to notice everything that is going on around you and within you. Pay attention to your thoughts, physical sensations, and surroundings. What do you hear? Smell? Feel?
Maintain your deep breathing throughout this exercise. If your mind starts to wander (and it probably will), gently bring your attention back to your breath. Try to do this for 2-5 minutes and then go about your day. Set a timer to let you know when your time is up.
Body Scanning Meditation
The second exercise is body scanning meditation. Find a quiet place where you can lay down comfortably. Take several deep breaths to calm yourself. Then, slowly and deliberately scan your body from head to toe. Pay attention to any thoughts, feelings, or physical sensations that come up as you do this.
Notice how different parts of your body feel and how they make you feel. Are there any spots of tension or discomfort? File them away for later consideration. When you're done, take a few more deep breaths and get up.
The third exercise is walking meditation. This is simply walking mindfully for 10-20 minutes while taking deep breaths. Notice your thoughts, the sensations that flow through your body, the feel of the ground beneath your feet, and your surroundings.
If you don't have a park or sidewalk nearby, don't worry. You can do this exercise by pacing back and forth in a set area that's at least 10 feet wide (though 20 feet is even better!).
Remember, you don't need to do all three of these exercises every day. But try to do at least one of them once a week, and ideally three times per week. And if you're feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed, take a few minutes to do one of these exercises as a mini break during your day.
Now, if you're anything like me, the idea of sitting still and doing nothing for a few minutes might seem a bit daunting. But trust me, it's worth it. Not only will regular mindfulness exercises help you become more focused and calm, but they can also improve your overall well-being and quality of life.
So go ahead and give these exercises a try. And remember, just like with physical exercise, it's okay if you don't get it right the first time. It takes practice to build those mental muscles, but the more you do it, the easier it will become. Plus, you might even find that you enjoy the peace and quiet that comes with a few minutes of mindful meditation. Happy meditating!