Mindfulness is the art of developing a higher awareness of yourself and the world around you. It is one of the core characteristics of spirituality, and an essential skill to develop for anyone looking to learn how to live a more spiritual life.
Fortunately, the practice of mindfulness does not have to be difficult. At it’s heart, the practice is one of observation and attention to the present moment, without resistance, precondition, or judgment.
In this post, I’m providing a list of some of the best mindfulness exercises I use in my own life. Many of them are not difficult, but the challenge is to remember to apply them, every single day.
- Step Back To Breathe. Learning to notice your breath is an essential part of any mindfulness or meditation exercise. Whereas meditation has you focus on your breath for an extended period of time, mindfulness practices can help you to notice your breath more consistently throughout the day, for as little as just a few seconds. Try this exercise on stepping back to breathe.
- Think: Now I Am Breathing In. Another way to focus on your breath is to use a very simple mantra. As you go about your day, repeat the thought to yourself: Now I am breathing in. Now, I am breathing out. It is an effortless and powerful exercise. Try the technique here.
- Observe Your Thoughts. It should come as no surprise that observing your thoughts is a mindfulness practice. After all, mindfulness is all about self-awareness. The trick is in learning how to notice your thoughts, consistently and reliably. I recommend you try this program to help quiet the mind in order to learn how.
- Become Aware of Your Sense Perceptions. Noticing each of your five senses is a classic mindfulness technique that you can employ at any time. While there are many different versions of this technique you might want to explore, you don’t need to follow any specific routine. Simply pick a sense, and take a few moments to focus your attention 100% on it, noticing all of the details you can.
- Focus Your Gaze through Trataka. Trataka meditation, often known as a candle-meditation, is an easy technique in which you keep your eyes fixed on a single point and gaze deeply into the space behind it.
- Practice a Beginner’s Mind. Shoshin is a Zen practice of adopting a “beginner’s mind.” The idea is to approach everything you do as if it were the first time, allowing for a heightened awareness to the experience, as well as an attitude of non-judgment.
- Repeat a Daily Mantra. Mantras are simple phrases or statements you can use to focus your mind throughout the day. You can pick a single word, like “peace” or “ease,” to help you set an intention, or try a traditional Sanskrit mantra.
- Set Your Intention. Intention is a practice of consistent, diligent focus. It helps you to center your mind on your goals and move through your day with a confident, calm demeanor. You can set your intention every morning, and repeat it silently throughout the day. Learn more about how setting daily intentions creates an inspired life.
- Keep an Appreciation Journal. A daily appreciation journal can do wonders for re-orienting your mind towards the positive things in your life. It allows you time for reflection and personal awareness, and, when developed as a habit, can literally reshape the way your brain thinks about life.
- Take In The Good. Rick Hansen coined the phrase ‘taking in the good’ to refer to brief moments of awareness you can take throughout the day in order to fully observe the positive moments of life, as they occur.
- Smile. Smiling relaxes your facial muscles and immediately causes you to feel better. This simple act can change your mood, your day, and how others respond to you, yet we so often forget to do it.
- Practice a Walking Meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh wrote that peace is every step. When you become aware of each step that you take, you automatically center yourself into the present moment, and become more joyful. Learn how to do a walking meditation, or try this walking meditation script by Jack Kornfield.
- Engage Your Pranayama. Pranayama refers to the vital energy and life force that runs through your body. There are dozens of traditional yogic breath practices that you can use in order to attune to and engage with this energy. Click here to browse our list of pranayama techniques.
- Find Peace Within. Inner peace is the heart of mindfulness, but it isn’t just the end-goal to be attained after years of practice. You can try this simple exercise for finding inner peace to glimpse this state, right now.
- Practice Loving Kindness. Metta meditation has long been known to dramatically raise your energy and increase your experience of love, peace, and compassion. This age-old Buddhist practice is a cornerstone for increasing your awareness across all areas of your life. Learn more about practicing loving kindness.
- Play with Positive Affirmations. Affirmations are repeated statements that aim to change your beliefs about the world. Many people don’t know that, when done correctly, these statements will immediate cause you to feel better, and will bring you clarity and acceptance of the world around you. Try this easy positive affirmation exercise to get started.