Discover free mindfulness exercises that are easy to follow and very effective.
by Jessica Dillon
5 min read
We certainly hear a lot about mindfulness, about meditating and how to keep yourself calm and connected when navigating uncertain waters.
But too often, people talking about being mindful do so largely and without focusing on any hands-on, practical advice. Which leaves many of us wondering, just how can I become more mindful? How do I make myself feel better?
Because the bare minimum they tell you is to sit down and meditate, but what if that doesn’t work for you or what if you don’t know where to start? Well, fear not because we’ve got some free mindfulness exercises for you that are easy to follow and effective.
So without further ado, let’s get to it.
Doing this easy breathing exercise is great for a variety of reasons.
First of all, it has a grounding effect and forces you to be in the moment, because it asks you to pay attention to your breathing.
Second, you can do it even if you’re short on time or are on the go and don’t have the time or energy to get into a more extensive practice.
So how do you do mindful breathing?
Easy, though not as easy as you might expect. You want to sit up straight. You can do this in bed or sitting cross-legged on the floor. Make sure it’s a comfortable position and not one that will distract you from your exercise.
Keeping your back straight and with your eyes closed, begin inhaling and exhaling as you would normally. You can focus on breathing in more than you do normally, or keep your breathing rate the same.
Pay attention to the air coming in and out of your nostrils. Nothing else. Focus and visualize your lungs and your rib cage expanding as they take in the air and then deflating as they let go. Do this for at least 5-10 minutes and you will see that you feel far more present at the end than you did when starting.
Too often, we overlook what’s going on in our mind and body and tend to rush things or take them for granted. But in order to be more mindful, make a point of asking the above question at least once a day.
Again, it doesn’t have to take a long time or get sappy or anything. It simply has to be a moment where you consider your feelings at that present time objectively and free of judgment.
Keep considerations, reasoning, and over-thinking as far away as possible because that will only get in the way of observing your emotions.
Do this when you’re not rushing or when you have to go soon because that will hurry the process. Gaze out the window (or sit in bed, whatever makes you comfortable) and ask:
• How am I feeling right now?
• Why am I feeling this way?
Visualize the emotion, regardless if it’s good or bad and that will help ground you in the person you are in this moment.
This is another exercise that has to do with taking things for granted and functioning on auto-pilot, which is not healthy and does not allow us to be in the present moment.
We all have lots of things we do automatically, such as washing, eating lunch, having our morning coffee or even walking to the store.
We fill up our minds with thoughts of what annoyed us during the day or what we have to do once we finish this present activity.
Take a break from that. Instead of rushing through this given activity, take time to really experience it. Focus on how your coffee or your lunch tastes. Focus on chewing your food rather than swallowing and distinguishing the aromas and flavors.
When washing, pay attention to the body part you’re washing, on how the water feels, whether it’s soothing, too hot or cold. When walking somewhere, look around.
Don’t spend your whole walk listening to music or looking at your phone, but rather look at the people who pass you by, take in the day, the weather and the surrounding noises.
This is a great exercise because it actually needs to be done while you’re doing something else, so you don’t have to set aside a special time for this.
Journaling has really been gaining popularity lately and for good reason. It’s a great practice to ground and keep you mindful. Take time out of your busy day to write down your thoughts and your feelings.
This will force you to pay attention to what’s going on and might surprise you by revealing certain frustrations or little joys you hadn’t even noticed.
Journaling can also be a powerful exercise in self-compassion. If this is something that you struggle with, make sure you write down three things you are grateful for today and that you appreciate about yourself or about your life.
But also take time to write down things that are hurting you. A stressful job or relationship needs to be acknowledged before it can be fixed.
Taking even 10 minutes each day to write down these things can make you more aware of yourself and forces you to awake to the moment you’re living now.
I love this one because you can do it anywhere and it’s both fun and has obvious results. The rule of five asks you to focus on your surroundings. It asks you to pay attention to the five senses and name (either out loud or mentally):
• Five things that you see;
• Four things that you feel;
• Three things that you hear;
• Two things that you smell;
• One thing that you taste.
It’s a great exercise for being in the present moment.
And that’s it, these are our five favorite free mindfulness exercises and we love them because they are all really fun and easy to do, they don’t take a lot of time and yet are really effective.
22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques & Activities For Adults (+ PDF’s)
Mindfulness Activities: Fun Ways to Be Mindful (No Matter How Much Time You Have!)