Mindfulness Exercises for Beginners
The 21st Century is a crazy time to live in. We are incredibly fortunate to live in a world with so much connection, but sometimes that connection can be a bit of a curse. Being able to be contacted always can make people feel a bit pulled in all directions, and that in turn can create a real sense of overwhelm.
Mindfulness has been the word of the day for quite some time now, but I’m not sure if we can really overstate its value to us as the busy bees that we all are!
One of the drawbacks to mindfulness, at least I think, is how linked it is to the new wave cool kids with bags of money to spare. I think a lot of us feel that the idea of mindfulness can’t work for us because we just can’t afford, be it time or money, to invest in it.
The thing is, though, we can find mindfulness in lots of ways, and once we know how it works, we can be creative in how we achieve this state of meditation!
According to Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leading practitioner in Mindfulness, there are seven key attitudes that individuals can practice. In this article, I’m going to outline a couple of ways we can work on each of these attitudes without much change to our daily routines.
We all judge ourselves and everything around us, but it really helps every now and then to switch off that inner critic and just experience what’s happening. Investing in a good journal is a great way to practising watching your thoughts without policing them. Write down how you feel, it will prove to be a great reference guide as time goes on and the journey continues.
This is a big one! Whether it’s waiting for the kettle to boil, or seething that your commute is sabotaged because the train is late, we can all do with practising patience where possible. A good idea might be to charge up your phone and have a guided walking meditation on while you go about your day. You don’t have to go on a walk especially, just letting someone remind you to notice your senses is a gorgeous way to pass the time.
I love practising this in the bath. I light some candles, drop a bath bomb into the water and lie there to soak for a while. I get curious about how the bubbles form, or which way the flame will flicker, or even how often the tap will drip! Become a scientist for a few moments and keep your mind open to the smallest of experiences.
I bet this one is as hard for you as it is for me! The thing is, all feelings are good feelings, even the ones we’ve been told are bad. Maybe our behaviours aren’t ideal, but we shouldn’t blame the feelings behind them. Giving yourself grace and taking time to reflect on your behaviours is a great way of forgiving yourself and lessening feelings of shame. This is where that journal comes in again!
Just be. That’s it. It’s crazy hard, but it’s a great thing to work on when you can. If you have time, as you sit at your desk but before you turn your screen on, just sit and breathe. Thoughts can come and go, but just find yourself in your own body. If sitting still is tricky, grab some sticky notes and doodle, whatever you need to do to focus your mind and be "in the moment".
This is a great one when life gets a bit too much. Allow yourself to see things as they are and nothing more. If your stress levels are getting too much, let yourself acknowledge that, and Take. A. Break!
No, not Frozen! While we’re allowing ourselves to focus on what our senses are experiencing, our thoughts can be a bit intrusive. Sometimes a nice way to practise letting thoughts float away is with food or drink. Mindfully see, smell, feel and taste the textures and flavours on your tongue. I promise you, everything tastes so much better when you eat mindfully!
So there you are: a few ideas to get you started on your mindfulness journey. Good luck!