22 January 2015

It’s more than simply being considerate of others. It’s being mindful – of the people and feelings around you, without being judgmental or interpretative.

While it might sound like you’re overloading your senses, practicing mindfulness does just the opposite. By engaging the world around you, your attention is diverted from negative and random thoughts, reducing stress, anxiety and depression, as well as improving your mood.

Here are some mindfulness exercises to try, regardless of where you are. 

1. Eat a raisin slowly and mindfully, observing the motions with all your senses.
Think about how this is different from how you normally eat.

2. Do a body “scan”.
Focus on physical sensations in different parts of your body. Bring your attention back to these sensations when the mind drifts, and forgive yourself when it does because this takes a bit of practice.

3. Do one thing.
Perform one daily activity, such as washing the dishes or brushing your teeth, while taking note of how you move and interact with the environment.

4. Mind a meal.
Eat one meal a day in a mindful way, like the raisin.

5. Examine your perceptions.
Think about your thoughts – were they caused by events or your perception of events? It is not what happens that is important, but how we react to it that makes the difference. 

6. Meditate while sitting.
Focus on your breathing. If your mind wanders, gently return your attention as you inhale and exhale.

7. Practice a “three-minute breathing space”.
Bring your attention to the experiences of the moment, then to your breathing, and then to your body. Try using the three-minute breathing space during unpleasant events.

8. Listen and observe.
See and hear without judging or interpretation for a few minutes.

9. Walk mindfully.
Move slowly while focusing on your breathing. Inhale slowly the first four counts, then exhale over the next four counts. Repeat, and at the same time, pay more attention to your surroundings.

10. Write down warning signals of emotional distress.
Be mindful of these signs when they happen; when they happen, perform step seven.


Disclaimer: Information provided is for general background purposes and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment by a trained professional. You should always consult your physician about any health care questions you may have, especially before trying a new medication, diet, fitness program, or approach to health care issues. 


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