Mindfulness is many things. It is letting go of evaluating and judging parts of the present moment. When using mindfulness we attend to the current moment. We do not ignore the present with worries of the future or troubles of the past.
The great thing about mindfulness is that it can be practiced at any time. When practicing mindfulness, we can do it anywhere and while doing anything. Mindfulness skills need to be practiced. It is easier to practice these new skills when we do not need them. If we practice in easier situations, the skill will become easier to use. Once the skill becomes automatic, we can use it when we need it. There are many ways of practicing mindfulness. These include mindful breathing, eating, listening, looking, and walking.
Written instructions can be found below. These exercises can also be found on popular phone apps such as the “PTSD Coach” or YouTube guided meditation videos. Special thanks to Ruby Rideout of the VA Clinical Resource Hub for sharing these Mindfulness Practices with short activities that can be done within 4-5 minutes – incorporating breathing, eating, listening, looking, and walking.
This is an easy exercise. It can be done anytime throughout the day. We are going to take 60 seconds to focus all of our attention on our breathing. We leave our eyes open and breathe normally. If our minds wonder, we will simply return our attention to our breath.
- We begin the exercise by sitting comfortably in chair or on the floor. Sit with a firm position but not rigid. We make sure our head feels centered over our shoulders with our arms at our sides. This position lets us stay alert but
- We begin by noticing how the body is sensing the environment around us. Notice that we can feel ourselves sitting in our chairs. We can feel our feet on the ground. Our clothes on our
- Now we gently close our eyes or find a place that we can focus our eyes on like the floor or
- Notice as we close our eyes or soften our gaze, our ears open and sound is more available to
- We take a few moments to notice the sounds around
- Now we gently release our attention from sounds around and focus our attention to the tip of our nose. We begin to pay attention to the sensation of the air moving in and out of our
- Notice the change in temperature between our in-breath and out-breath. We allow ourselves to gently follow our breathing. Paying attention to the air coming in and going out of our
- You may also notice the rise and fall of your chest and belly as you breathe. Feel that expansion and contraction. Relax into your breathing. Allow it to be natural and
- If you become distracted by your thoughts take a moment to notice where your thought took you without judgment. Now refocus your attention to your
- If you get distracted 100 times that is okay. Simply bring your focus back to your breathing 100 times.
- Now take the next few minutes to attend completely to your You will not hear my voice for the next 5 minutes.
This exercise is meant to help us have a more mindful experience of eating. Sit comfortably in a chair with your feet on the floor and your body upright.
- First, take a raisin or other small fruit and eat it the way you normally do. Just pop it into your mouth. Chew. And swallow.
- Then get another piece of that Place it in front of you and examine its texture, form, shape, and size.
- Now take out another piece of fruit and place it next to the Notice all the differences. Its size, shape, and texture.
- Pick up one fruit and roll it between your fingers. Feel the texture on the outside of the fruit. Does it feel sticky? Is it wet? Then place it in your mouth. Roll it around inside your mouth. Over and under your tongue and between your jaws and cheeks. Do not chew it for at least 30 seconds. When you are ready eat the
- Notice its taste. The feel on your teeth as you chew. How it tastes as you
- Next, eat the second piece of fruit. This time eat it really Chew the fruit as many times as you can then swallow. Notice the flavor(s). How it feels in your mouth. How it feels to swallow. How does this experience compare to the first piece of fruit?
- When you are finished focus on your breathing for a moment before you go on with your
For this exercise, find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. A place you will not be disturbed. You can pay attention to the world around you or you may put all of your attention into a favorite song. Either way, attend entirely to the sounds rather than the meanings of the sounds.
Pay attention to the sounds of the world around you. Do not label the sounds. Do not think about the meanings. If your mind wanders, return to listening as soon as you realize it. Listen for 5 minutes. Notice your breathing. When you are ready slowly bring your awareness back to your surroundings.
Pay attention to the sounds of the song. Do not label the sounds or think about their meanings. If your mind wanders, return to listening as soon as you realize it. Listen to the entire song. As the song ends, bring your awareness back to your surroundings. Take a moment to realize your current state before you go on with your day.
Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit. A place you will not be disturbed. You will be putting all of your attention onto a picture that you have selected. This can be a piece of paper. Or something you have on your phone or computer screen.
Select pictures that will allow you to focus your entire attention on the colors, textures, and the features of the image.
Focus your entire attention on the colors. Focus on the textures. Look at the features of the image. Try not to get caught up in the meaning of the person, place, or thing in the image. Focus on the picture for 5 minutes. When you are ready slowly bring your awareness back to the environment around you.
For this exercise you can walk at home, in your neighborhood, in a park, or wherever else feels comfortable and safe to you. Try to remain silent during your walk so that you can more easily attend to your sensations and your mind.
- Start by standing still. Notice your sensations. Your feet on the ground. Your balance and where you
- Notice your breathing. The natural flow of your breath in and out … in and
- Now slowly begin to walk. Notice the sensations experienced by your feet as they touch the ground. Noticing the sensations in your foot as it bends as you take each
- Continue to walk As you walk bring your full awareness to the sensations as you walk. Let each foot land gently and purposefully. Notice the rhythm of your steps and how your body feels as it moves.
- As you walk if your attention wanders notice that. Then bring your attention back to the experience of
- As you walk notice each step. Feel your feet as they meet the
- You can also bring your attention to your legs or your knees. Notice the sensations that you experience there.
- If you like, move your awareness to your hip area. Take time to notice the sensations you experience as you focus on your
- Remember to take your time walking. This allows you to fully notice your experience and sensations.
- Now feel free to move your attention further up your midsection and allow yourself to notice all the sensations
- You can also bring your attention to your shoulders, arms, and hands. Here again, notice any sensation, movement, or rhythm in your
- You may notice the feel of your neck and head as your feet meet the ground with each
- Now focus your attention to your neck and head notice any sensations in this area of your body as you move.
- Do you feel any difference in sensations there as you walk?
- Now bring your attention back to the sensations and movement of your feet as you
- If you notice that you are starting to walk move quickly, slow your pace to become more aware of every aspect of the experience of taking a
- Continue to walk for as long as you’d like. When you finish stand for a moment and bring your
attention to your breath. Notice how your chest and belly naturally rise and fall as you breathe.