The science of meditation is enticing: just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation exercises for less stress and more focus? Yes please. Study after study has suggested that starting a mindfulness practice might just be the boost your brain and body needs.
Even if you’re thoroughly convinced, actually getting into a meditation practice can be intimidating. You may be thinking, I’m not a Zen master yogi and I don’t know how to chant. Luckily, mindfulness meditation exercises can be incorporated into the activities you’re already doing. No Buddhist singing bowl required. Unless you want one.
3 Mindfulness Meditation Exercises Anyone Can Do
We talked to Nina Smiley, PhD and Director of Mindfulness Programming at Mohonk Mountain House, who brings mindfulness to real people in real life. Here, she walks us through easy mindfulness meditation exercises that won’t require you to develop a totally new routine. Try one now for a better day.
1. Walk your way to mindful
“My favorite walking meditation is forest bathing, which is a mindful hike that encourages people to be fully present in the moment and deeply engage in the sensory experience of their natural surroundings,” says Smiley.
Despite the name, you don’t have to hit the mountains to do this, she adds. You can forest bathe anywhere that’s green—a park, a garden, your backyard.
How to do it: “As you walk slowly, use all of your senses to take in the world around you,” says Smiley. Notice the sun on your face, the breeze against your skin, the sound of leaves. “This can essentially be done anytime you’re outdoors—perhaps even as part of your morning or evening commute.”
2. Visualize your calm
Okay, so what happens when you can’t take a stroll in the park? Mindfulness is all in your mindset. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you can visualize a scene to feel more grounded.
“I like to visualize a familiar place that brings me comfort—my happy place,” says Smiley. Maybe for you, that’s a beach. Or your childhood summer camp. Or your favorite cozy café. Whatever it is, think of the place that makes you feel most calm. And it’s okay if it takes you awhile to figure out where that place is and how to get there…mentally that is.
How to do it: “As you see this place in your mind’s eye, make it ‘real’ by bringing to mind sensations of touch, sound, smell, sight, and taste that come with the setting,” Smiley says.
Why it works: Chances are, you know this place—and how chilled out it makes you feel—like the back of your hand. Recalling what it feels like to be there is easy. “Once you’re there, you can feel the sensations and recall the emotions it evokes, letting the calm bring you peace,” Smiley says.
Bonus: This one is particularly good for helping you drift pleasantly to sleep, she adds.
3. Make any moment a mindful moment
Sometimes all you need (or have time for) is one meditative moment. “As you engage fully with sensations—without thoughts, without judgment—you can make any time of the day a mindful moment,” Smiley says. “This is where adopting an attitude of mindfulness can be particularly valuable.”
How to do it: “Mindfulness can be woven into the simplest activities, such as washing your hands,” says Smiley. For example, next time you head to the sink to wash your hands, notice the temperature of the running water as it hits your skin, feeling the smooth slickness between your hands as you lather, the scent of the soap as you take a deep breath.
Another way to try it? Bring mindfulness into your morning brew. “With coffee, experience the taste and scent of the brew, the warmth of the cup, and the liquid as it flows down your throat,” Smiley says.
Why it works: Cultivating your mindfulness chops can come in handy when the little stresses are piling up. Like when your boss is stressing you out or your wifi is refusing to connect—again. “By building a habit of incorporating mindfulness into these simple moments, you can learn how to use these skills to reduce stress in more difficult moments,” Smiley says.
With mindfulness meditation exercises this easy, how can you not get into the habit? All it takes is a moment of mindfulness or a trip down memory lane.
Your turn: What mindfulness meditation exercises have you tried? Tell us more about how you make it mindful in the comments.
If you like this post, you’ll also like How to Define Mindfulness and 3 Ways to Try It
Author: Macaela Mackenzie
Macaela Mackenzie is a freelance writer and content strategist. When she doesn’t have her nose in a research journal or the New York Times, she’s likely to be found looking for punny greeting cards or an excuse to explore a new travel spot.