3 Guided Mindfulness Activities to Improve Your Life

By Liam McAuliffe M.T.S. Published on

If you’ve heard or read about mindfulness, you may be curious about how to practice it. These 3 mindfulness activities offer a foundation for a strong mindfulness practice of your own and the many benefits that come with it. 

Table of Contents

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a type of meditation where you intentionally bring your awareness to the things you’re experiencing in the moment. Depending on the specific mindfulness exercise these might include your breath, the image of someone you care about, sounds in your environment, and sensations in your body. 

A key part of the practice no matter what you bring your awareness to is to remain non-judgemental. This may sound easy at first, but for most of us, self-judgment, a desire to problem-solve, and a tendency to daydream, are deeply rooted habits. 

All of these habits can be understood as ways we’ve learned to avoid uncomfortable and shameful feelings. These Mindfulness meditation activities are about disrupting these avoidance patterns. 

When you learn how to be with all of your experience, the pleasant and the unpleasant, without judgment, you build resilience and tolerance. 

Aversions fears and judgments no longer call the shots in your life. You are rewarded with greater choice, and you can be more present to the world around you. This process leads to many well-researched benefits which we’ll take a brief look at next. 

What are the benefits of Mindfulness Activities?

How to meditate? Benefits of meditation

Mindfulness is the most researched type of meditation, with over 1000 clinical studies today. These studies show that mindfulness activities can offer powerful positive benefits in many areas of your life. Some of these include: 

  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced anxiety levels.
  • Less depression
  • Increased awareness of your habitual ways of thinking and an ability to build more constructive habits.
  • Greater creativity in problem-solving skills.
  • Elevated attention and memory.
  • Improves age-related memory loss.
  • Increases in attention, memory, and mental quickness in older people.
  • More compassion toward yourself and others.
  • Increased control over food cravings.
  • Increased control over alcohol cravings, and alcohol use.
  • Improves sleep.
  • Reduction in physical pain.  
  • Reduced blood pressure.
  • Reduced inflammation.
  • Reduced severity of numerous disorders and diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and fibromyalgia.

3 Mindfulness Meditation Activities: Getting Started

When you’re just starting out on the journey of meditation, the word ‘mindfulness’ can be a little misleading. The ‘mind’ part doesn’t just mean the brain. “Mind” encompasses all of your experience–thoughts, emotions, sensations. So it’s not surprising that there are different types of mindfulness meditation exercises that bring your awareness to different parts of your experience.

Here are 3 mindfulness activities that you can do anywhere—at home, at work, when commuting. 

However, while establishing your practice, it can be helpful to find a place that is relatively free from distractions. 

If you live with others, let them know that you don’t want to be disturbed for the time you’ve carved out to practice. 

With each of these activities, you can begin by setting aside as little as 5 minutes a day, then gradually increasing by 5 minutes each week until you get to sessions of 20-30 minutes. If you’re feeling motivated to create the most effective practice as quickly as possible, set a timer and dive in for 20-30 minutes at a time.

5 Step Awareness of Breath Mindfulness Activity  

Step 1

Find a comfortable seated position, or you can lie down if that’s easier. 

Gently shift your weight from side to side.

Feel the sensation of your body meeting the surface beneath you.

Feel the pressure of gravity gently holding you to the earth.

Feel the earth pressing back up against your body, holding you.

Bring your awareness to the sensation of your breath in your nostrils.

Count ten breaths–each inhale and exhale are a single breath.

Continue noticing your breath in your nostrils without counting.

Step 2

Notice any thoughts. 

When you notice a thought, label it by silently saying the word “thinking.”

Notice how thoughts arise, change, pass away.

Gently and lovingly turn your awareness back to the sensation of your breath in your nostrils.

Notice how each inhale and each exhale are different from the last.

Notice how each breath arises and passes, just like your thoughts. 

Bring your awareness to your breath rising and falling in your chest.

Count ten breaths. 

Step 3

When thoughts arise, gently and lovingly shift your awareness back to the sensation of your breath rising and falling in your chest.

Check-in with your eyes—is there any tension there? If so, simply notice the tension.

Gently shift your awareness back to your breath in your chest.

Now bring your awareness to your breath in your abdomen. The rise and fall of your stomach.

Each inhale and each exhale is different from the last. Your body is constantly adjusting your oxygen levels. And you’re just noticing the change. Noticing the rise and fall of your belly.

When thoughts arise, simply notice that you are thinking.

Notice how thoughts arise and pass away constantly, just as each breath arises and passes away. Constantly changing.

Step 4

Bring your awareness back to your breath rising and falling in your belly.

You are not chasing after or anticipating your thoughts, not pushing them away. They’re simply constantly arising into the space of consciousness. 

Gently shift your awareness back to the sensation of your breath rising and falling in your belly.

Now see if you can notice the rise and fall of your entire body.

Your breath is feeding every cell with oxygen.

It’s a subtle sensation, but it’s there.

Step 5

Notice any tension in your jaw- it’s natural for the jaw to get a little tighter as we concentrate.

Simply notice it. Be with it, without trying to change or relieve it. 

Gently return your awareness to your breath filling and emptying from your body.

If it’s helpful count 10 breaths, then start over again from one. 

If you’re finding it relatively easy to stay tuned into the breath, you don’t need to count, just notice for as long as you’d like. 

If your alarm goes off, or if you’re simply ready to end your session, wiggle your toes.

Wiggle your fingers.

Open your eyes (if you’ve closed them)

And return into the field of interaction with the rest of life, calm, refreshed, centered.

Lovingkindness (Metta) Meditation Script

Find a comfortable seated position, or you can lie down if that’s easier. 

Gently shift your weight from side to side.

Feel the sensation of your body meeting the surface beneath you.

Feel the pressure of gravity gently holding you to the earth.

Feel the earth pressing back up against your body, supporting you, holding you.

Close your eyes.

Guest #1 Someone who loves you

Think of someone who wishes you well, who loves you unconditionally, who wants to see you thrive. 

Maybe it’s your mother, or your father, a teacher, or dear friend.

In your imagination, invite the loving person to sit before you, facing you.

Feel their love and care washing over you. 

Can you see this care flowing over and into you as white light?

As you exhale, imagine this white light flowing from you back over the person.

Say to yourself, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from harm.”

Repeat this cycle with each inhale: Accept the white light flowing from them and saturating you.

With each exhale, see the white light flowing from you back to them.

Repeat, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from harm.”

When you’re ready to move on to your next guest, thank them for coming, let them go, and i

Guest #2 Someone you have neutral feelings for

Invite someone in your life toward whom you feel neutral. It could be someone you see often but never acknowledge, maybe its your gardener, your bus driver, your barista or check-out person at the supermarket.

Offer them this white light of compassion and wellbeing.

With each inhale, feel the light grow inside you. With each exhale, watch the light wash over your guest.

Say to them, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from harm.”

When you’re ready to move on, thank them for coming then let them go.

Guest #5 Someone you have complicated feelings for

Think of someone with whom you have a complicated or fraught relationship. There’s love and care, but it’s not always clear because there may also be frustration and anger.

Invite this person before you. See them there, facing you. Thank them for coming.

With each inhale feel the light build within you. With each exhale watch the light wash over your guest.

Say to them, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from harm.”

At first, offering them this unconditional wish for wellbeing might be difficult. See if you can stick with it for six cycles.

Notice any tension in your body. Notice any release. 

Return to the vision of white light flowing from you to them.

When you’re ready to move on to the next stage, thank them for coming and let them go.

If offering lovingkindness to this person was challenging enough, skip to step #7. But if you’re feeling powerfully compassionate, invite in guest #6

Guest #6 Someone who you feel anger or rage towards

Think of someone who you feel anger or antipathy towards, maybe even hatred.

Invite them into this space of compassion and wellbeing.

With each inhale, feel the light of lovingkindness build within you.

With each exhale, watch the light wash over your guest.

Say to them, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be free from harm.”

Stick with it. Notice how the power of lovingkindness in you is not affected by their presence. 

Notice them softening, getting clearer, releasing their guard, opening up to understanding.

When you feel ready to let them go, thank them for coming and watch them dissolve.

Guest #7 You

Now bring into your mind a picture of yourself seated in front of you. 

With each inhale, feel the light of loving-kindness grow in you.

With each exhale, watch the light wash over you.

Say to yourself, “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be from harm.”

Repeat this cycle of offering light and well-wishing for six cycles. 

When you’re ready, wiggle your toes, wiggle your fingers, slowly open your eyes, and return to the world filled with your light and compassion.

Choiceless Awareness Activity 

Find a comfortable seated position, or you can lie down if that’s easier. 

Gently shift your weight from side to side.

Feel the sensation of your body meeting the surface beneath you.

Feel the pressure of gravity gently holding you to the earth.

Feel the earth pressing back up against your body, supporting you, holding you.

Pay attention to anything that comes into your awareness, whether thought, emotion, sound, or bodily sensation. 

Follow it until something else comes into your awareness, without trying to chase after or hold onto it.

When the next thing comes into your awareness, just pay attention to it until another thing comes along.

Notice how each aspect and each moment of reality is constantly arising, changing, and passing away.

There is nothing to grasp onto in the first place.

There is only the changing miracle of each and every moment.

Mindfulness Activities: The Outlook

To get the benefits of these three mindfulness activities, we recommend practicing every day–and these 7 strategies can help. Most clinical studies looking at the effects of mindfulness activities require an 8 week period. So have patience, and give yourself some time to see if these are for you.

When it comes to mindfulness activities, there’s strength in numbers. So consider combining these 3 mindfulness activities with mindful eating, yoga, vigorous walking, and mindful diets like the keto diet.

 

 

 

Article Sources

©2020 Doctor ROBERT KILTZ. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED