Mindfulness focusses on living in the ‘here and now’, not in the past or the future. Living in full awareness. The ‘here and now’ is all that matters! But how can you become mindful? Is it the same as meditation? 5 mindfulness exercises you can try today.
The difference between mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness means living in the ‘here and now’. It means living in full awareness and being conscious of the things you experience. Mindfulness makes you aware of the here and now so you worry less about tomorrow.
For example, when you’re eating lunch, you’re not thinking about the work laying on your desk or the groceries you need to buy. Instead, you focus all your attention on the present moment. You enjoy the taste of your sandwich, feel its structure, and listen to the sounds of your colleagues in the cafeteria.
This can be challenging. The question is, when are you 100 % in the present moment?
Meditation is more like an exercise to cultivate mindfulness. ‘Being mindful’ is something you do throughout the day, whereas meditation is something you do at specific moments.
During meditation you can focus on your breathing and slowly clear your mind. But you can also focus on the present, your surroundings, that gentle breeze, the sounds in the background, how you’re sitting on the floor … This is more like a mindfulness meditation, where you focus your attention specifically on the ‘here and now’.
Daily mindfulness exercises can help you find more peace of mind, achieve your goals and get more pleasure out of life. For people who live busy lives it is a way of being in the ‘here and now’. The following mindfulness exercises will help you to live more mindfully.
1. Body scan
he body scan is an exercise where you consciously focus your attention on the ‘here and now’. It is a mindfulness exercise that you can do while meditating.
The purpose of a body scan is to tune into your body. During this exercise you ‘scan’ your entire body. Find a quiet spot and a comfortable position to sit or lie down, close your eyes and begin focusing on your breathing. Next you bring your attention to your entire body. Notice what kind of mood you’re in (are you happy, mad, calm or anxious?) and be aware of how you’re lying or sitting.
Next you scan your body step by step. Start with your feet. Feel how they are being supported by the floor, feel the warmth, the coldness, sensations… Following that, work your way up to your calves, thighs, stomach, arms. After completing the body scan, start moving again slowly and open your eyes.
+ If you prefer a guided body scan, download the Meditation Moments App. Go to the moment ‘Peace of Mind’ and click on the body scan meditation.
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One of the easiest and most accessible mindfulness exercises to make contact with the ‘here and now’, is using your breath. Breathing is something we carry with us always and everywhere. Take a moment to tune into yourself and focus on your breathing. Notice how you are breathing. High in your chest? Quickly? Or very peacefully?
Bring your breathing back to a deep belly breathing. Take slow breaths in and out. 3 seconds in and 4 seconds out. You can do this anytime, anywhere! When you’re standing in line at the cash register, waiting for the bus or sitting in your car. Throughout the day you can take the time to be present in the ‘here and now’.
3. Listen attentively
How often have you been in a conversation with someone but didn’t really listen to what they were saying? Directly relating everything the other person says back to yourself (‘I’m suffering from that too.’ ‘Oh that is a strange thing to happen to you!’) or being completely elsewhere with your mind?
You probably interact with a lot of people throughout the day. Every time you have contact with someone is another opportunity to be mindful. Listen very carefully to what the other person is saying. Try to be genuinely interested and give them your full attention. They will feel that attention. This will lead to better conversations and better relationships!
4. Movement meditation
Another exercise to make you mindful and get you in motion is movement meditation. The word says it all: you are going to move! Go outside for a nice, long walk in nature. Breathe in the fresh air, see the beautiful nature, feel the warmth or the coldness, enjoy the moment.
Try not to let your thoughts go all over the place, but stay in the here and now. Go take a walk or choose another activity you enjoy, for instance free-form dancing. Feel the dance moves you make and be fully present in the moment!
5. Do something with complete awareness
Sometimes we tend to do things really, really fast. The sooner the better, right? But this makes us lose track of ourselves. If you want to live more mindfully try to think of something that happens every day and cultivate purposeful awareness of what it is that you are doing.
It could be anything! Whether it is walking the dog, cooking dinner or talking to your mother on the phone. Try to focus all your attention and keep your mind from wandering off to another place. Don’t let your mind go astray, but fully enjoy the moment.
Meditation & mindfulness exercises
These exercises are an easy way to integrate mindfulness into your life and to enjoy the moment. The guided meditations in the Meditation Moments App will help to achieve even more peace of mind and happiness in your life.
Try Meditation Moments app completely free for 10 days