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Mindfulness is the practice of maintaining a moment-by-moment purposeful awareness of our thoughts, feelings and sensations without judging or interpreting them as good or bad. To live mindfully is to live in the moment and bring your attention to the present, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.
Below are some simple mindfulness exercises you can practice.
1. Mindful Breathing:
Find a quiet place to sit or lie down.
Place your left hand on your belly and your right hand on your chest.
Using your diaphragm muscles, push your stomach outwards while inhaling deeply.
Exhale slowly and as you exhale, gently press on your belly.
Let your belly return to its resting position.
Repeat 5 times.
2. Mindful Observation:
Find a comfortable space.
Pick an object from your immediate environment.
Observe the object with all of your senses.
How does it look? What colour is it? Is it shiny or dull? How does the texture feel on your fingertips? Does it make any sound or is it silent? Does it have any certain smell to it?
You may have different reactions to the object.
Maybe you will realise that you are tired and your body needs rest.
Maybe you are beginning to feel bored with the experience.
Acknowledge every feeling and sensation without judgment.
Journal your progress – all the thoughts, emotions and/or physical experiences that may occurred in you while you were doing the exercise.
3. Mindful Eating:
Take a few deep breaths and consider the health value of each piece of food.
Employ all your senses while you’re shopping, cooking, serving and eating your food.
Notice how the different foods look, smell and feel as you chew.
Notice how you are sitting.
Acknowledge your surroundings but tune them out.
Eat slowly and without distraction.
Listen to physical hunger cues and eat only until you’re full.
Appreciate the food but also understand why you are eating.
Mindful eating gives you the skills you need to deal with unhealthy eating impulses. The more you learn to slow down, the more it puts you in charge of your responses instead of at the whim of your instinct. This way, you will have greater control over your diet and nutrition habits.
In later posts, we will explore the benefits of mindful eating and mindful drinking.