Appreciating Every Moment: 5 Simple Mindfulness Exercises

Appreciating Every Moment: 5 Simple Mindfulness Exercises

Are you appreciating every moment and staying present? Try out these 5 simple mindfulness exercises to help you tune into the now.

Keyword(s): mindfulness exercises

The Buddha once said, "Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think." Wouldn't that be amazing? To harness the power of our minds to create the happy, fulfilling, peaceful life that we wish to live. 

You don't have to become a monk in order to achieve something similar. You can start appreciating the moment in your life and become more present in its joys with mindfulness exercises.

Mindfulness exercises come from the practice of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy which stresses crafting a new relationship with your own mind. Patients who went through Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy showed a significantly reduced risk of depressive relapse.

However, you don't have to be depressed to benefit from mindfulness exercises. 

With practice, you can use mindfulness to choose positivity and success for the trajectory of your life. The bad times may still come as they do for anyone, but overall your life will feel fuller and more peaceful. You'll be more equipped to move quickly through the bad to get back to the good.

Keep reading to learn more about staying mindful.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

Actual changes in the brain take place when you begin practicing meditation and mindfulness. Meditators show changes in their self-awareness of thoughts, self-awareness of the body, memory, emotional regulation, and communication between different sections of the brain.

The main function of mindfulness is to help people accept their circumstances rather than avoid dealing with the emotions attached to them through breathing, guided imagery, and other methods. When people confront their emotions head-on, they're able to move through them more quickly. 

Have you ever seen something terrible happen to a person, and they were able to accept their grief and then move forward in the other aspects of their life? Maybe they were unconsciously or consciously practicing mindfulness. On the other hand, a person who gets stuck in a pattern of grief and avoidance for long periods and never gets over painful periods may benefit from learning mindfulness.

The goal of mindfulness is to ultimately gain perspective on your own self-defeating thoughts and replace them with more useful ones.

Mindfulness Exercises

Now that you have a better understanding of how mindfulness works, let's look at some ways that you can choose positivity and calm for your life. Some of these methods are best for private moments at the end of the day at home while others can be used for mindfulness training throughout the day.

1. Pursed Lip Breathing

You're probably familiar with the importance of breathing in meditation. The breathwork alone can help to reduce anxiety and stress, but it also prepares you to practice the other exercises that are to come with greater efficacy.

To practice pursed lip breathing:

  1. Relax your neck and shoulders
  2. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for two counts
  3. Purse your lips as if you are whistling or sucking a straw
  4. Exhale slowly through your lips for four counts

Don't worry about maintaining the exercise for very long at first. Start with 2-5 minutes a day and increase it as you become more comfortable. Follow a schedule every day and you'll be a mindfulness breathing pro in no time.

2. Diaphragmatic Breathing

This is another breathing exercise that can be used on its own or in combination with other mindfulness exercises. Unlike pursed lip breathing, you'll probably want to be at home for this one since it involves lying down.

  1. Lie down with your head on a pillow and your knees comfortably bent
  2. Place your hands on your upper chest and diaphragm to be able to feel the movement as you breathe
  3. Inhale through your nose and feel your stomach expand
  4. Exhale through pursed lips and try to keep the hand on your chest perfectly still

Do your best not to fall asleep though you may feel relaxed. Take this moment once you become comfortable with the breathing pattern to get in touch with the emotions you felt throughout the day.

3. Lion's Breath

While the other breathing exercises are focused on achieving calm and relaxation, lion's breath is an energizing technique. It can also relieve tension in your face and neck.

  1. Sit in whatever way is most comfortable for you
  2. Place your palms on your knees and spread your fingers wide
  3. Inhale deeply through your nose with your eyes wide open
  4. While you exhale open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue downwards
  5. Exhale and make a long "ha" sound

This isn't the best exercise for thinking about other things. You can use it before your other mindfulness exercises though if you're feeling tired out beforehand.

4. Mindful Listening

You probably notice many things throughout your day through sight, but mindfulness encourages the use of your other senses to stay present in the moment as well. This exercise will help you use listening as another sense to stay mindful with. It's best to be done with a group.

  1. Think about one thing you are stressed about and one thing that you are excited for
  2. Go around the group and have everyone share their two items
  3. Pay attention to how it feels to speak and the different sensations related to the stressful thing and the exciting thing
  4. Pay close attention to others as they share and take note of when you get distracted from listening and what those distractions are

By identifying your distractions, you may have more success in passing through them more quickly in the future. Learning how to be fully present in your listening will strengthen your relationship with others as you feel connected to their experiences.

5. The Five Senses Exercise

This is one of the most popular mindfulness exercises. It's useful as an everyday practice, but can also be used to lessen the effects of panic and anxiety attacks in the moment. Like mindful listening, it calls attention to the other senses you may ignore that can help ground you.

  1. Notice five things you can see
  2. Notice four things you can feel
  3. Notice three things you can heart
  4. Notice two things you can smell
  5. Notice one thing you can taste

The senses are ordered by how easy they are to identify. At first, it may seem unlikely that you'd notice something to taste. But even taking a deep breath has a taste.

Staying Mindful For a More Positive Life

By practicing these mindfulness exercises, you'll find yourself a more grounded and positive person. They take time to master, but before you know it you may even do them unconsciously.

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