The following are 25 exercises that will help us to be mindful and live in the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worry about the future.
As you practice the suggestions below, the useful attitude to have is as follows:
Mindfulness is about deliberately paying attention to your experience, without judgement, as it unfolds – noticing what is happening physically in the body and where. It also involves being aware of what emotions are arising and the tone of these feelings, as well as noticing what stories we tell ourselves. The emphasis is always on what is happening, not why it is happening. We use our senses- sight, sound, taste, touch and smell – to explore our experience. We never look for a particular experience. There is no right or wrong experience. Whatever your experience is, this is your experience in this moment. If any time you get lost in practice, just bring your attention back to the physical sensations of breathing. Ask yourself what you feel physically, emotionally and what thoughts are arising? Helpful attitudes are curiosity, not striving, trust, patience, not judging, acceptance and letting go.
1. Mindfulness of breathing: Choose an area of the body in which you feel the breath most strongly: belly, chest, nostrils or lips. Take your attention to this place. Then just notice the sensations of breathing. This is just noticing, not thinking about the breath. Feel the expansion and contraction of the chest or belly, or feel the breath go in and out of your nostrils.
2. Cleansing the body with breath: Do the mindfulness of breathing exercise as above. Then breathe in through the crown of your head, fill the body with breath and breathe out through the soles of the feet. Then, breathe in through the soles of the feet, fill the body with breath and breathe out through the crown of the head. Continue this way, sweeping the body with breath, from top to bottom, from bottom to top.
3. Awareness of your hand: Direct your attention to your hand. Become aware of it. Move your fingers in different ways slowly being aware of the movement. Rotate your hand in different ways, being aware of the rotation. Reflect on what your hand does for you, moment by moment, day by day, year by year.
4. Awareness of your face: Close your eyes. Become aware of your face. Become aware in a step-wise fashion of the different parts of your face- your forehead, your eyebrows, your eyes, nose, cheeks, mouth, lips, chin, etc. Just be aware. If thoughts come, let them come, then let them go. Simply be with your experience, whatever it is.
5. Awareness of your whole body: This is best done lying down. Lie down, close your eyes. Become aware of the right side of your body, including the right arm( from the top to the bottom step wise, head, face, shoulder, arm, hand, fingers, chest, belly, legs, toes). Now leave the right side and become aware of the left side of the body. Then become aware of the top half of the body( from the head to the waist). Then become aware of the bottom half of the body( from the waist below). Then become aware of the whole body. Rest in that awareness.
6. Moving attention around the body: Focus attention on one small part or larger part( little toe or toes or foot, etc). Be aware of it. Gradually move your attention to a nearby part. You can work your way similarly throughout the whole body. You can breathe in and out through each part as well. It is like scanning each part of your body and feeling what you feel. No thinking. Just feeling.
7. Be aware: Be aware of your standing, sitting, moving and walking. Be aware of how your body is moving. Rest in that awareness.
8. Mindfulness of daily activities: Eat mind fully, be aware of each sensation, sight, touch, smell, taste, how you chew, etc. Similarly be aware when you drink something. when you shower, when you do the dishes, when you run, when you sweep, when you prepare a meal, when you do anything. We have five senses: sight, touch, smell, hearing, taste. Use those senses and be aware. Do not think, just be aware.
9. Express gratitude: Close your eyes, and say thanks for all the good things, people and events in your life. Even small things will do. Like, thank you for not making me wait for the bus, thank you my kid’s cold has gone, etc.
10. Sense the spacious sky: Lie down, watch the sky. Sense it has no boundaries, sense that it is never-ending. Watch the dark night sky also, and all the stars there and be aware of it all.
11. Draw: Draw in awareness. Do not worry about how your drawing looks like. Watch and draw. Let go of all thoughts and judgements. Do not make corrections. Just draw. Just be aware.
12. Being aware of the pleasant: Be aware and pay attention to any pleasant experiences that regularly occur but that we usually ignore or quickly forget. They are going to be small things and just be aware of them
13. Notice what is right with you: Become aware of your body, each part of it and notice what is right with it. Notice that you can see, smell, walk, write, button, etc.
14. Mindful parenting: Be aware of the sensations when your baby. In moments of difficulty when parenting, become aware. Stop and pause.
15. Mindful phone: When the phone rings, be aware. Don’t get upset when you are put on hold. Just become aware and use that time for mindfulness.
16. Be present in conversation: As soon as you realize your mind is wandering, bring it back to listening. Avoid interrupting the other person. Let them finish. You will then have heard the complete story rather than only part of it. Notice any tendency you have to try to fix things or make them better for the other person, and instead, see if you can just be there for them. Avoid multitasking and do just one thing at a time. When you listen, just listen. Avoid rehearsing your answers. Listen and then respond. You will find your response will be improved if you have really heard what was said. It is okay to pause, take a breath, and pay attention to your body at any time during a conversation.
17. Awareness in sensation: Be really aware when you see something, touch something. Do not think.
18. Stand in someone else’s shoes: Become aware of yourself. Become aware of the other person. Notice the position he or she is in. Be aware and see what her feelings and thoughts may be.
19. Be aware of the earth beneath us as you walk on it.
20. Be aware of sensations as you brush your hair.
21. Create a circle of kindness: May you be well. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering. Say these to everybody, including yourself and those who irritate us.
22. Let go of technology, your phone, your mobile, the internet, when you are with others, when you eat, when you are relaxing and when you are with family.
23. Be aware: Feel your breath. Stay with itches and not itch and be just aware of the itch. Do something different often. Become aware of what you want. Become aware of what you resist. Sit like a mountain. Be aware of how you are feeling right now. Be aware of sound and silence. Imagine your thoughts like leaves flowing down through a waterfall. Be aware of everything that you do. Be aware when difficult things happen, remembering that they come and they go. Let go of expectations. Name your emotions and feelings and be with them, they will go away. Be aware of your illness, of a weak spot in your body, make friends with it.
24. Have a period of silence: no speaking, reading, writing or eye-contact.
25. The practice: Stay with one breath at one time. Keep doing that. Walk in the rain and be aware of the whole experience. Just sit, look and receive. Be aware. Have no expectations.
Be aware of this moment. This is all we have.