Mindfulness is a big word! To put it simply, mindfulness is awareness – noticing your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and anything around you happening in the moment. Practicing mindfulness can help you to calm down when you’re upset and to make better decisions. It can help build your concentration and focus. It can even help you feel less nervous and on edge! (By paying attention to what is happening right now, your brain pays less attention to fears, worries, and other unhelpful thoughts.) Here are some tips for practicing mindfulness and a few quick exercises you can try.
- Keep it simple. Practicing mindfulness doesn’t take long. Taking even just one minute to pay attention to what you see or hear helps teach your brain how to be mindful.
- Keep it real. The goal is to become more aware of what is going on inside your mind and your body, not to be calm or focused 100% of the time.
- Keep it fresh. Try out different ways of being mindful so you can find ones that you enjoy and that are helpful.
Keeping these tips in mind, here are some mindful exercises you can practice. For each of these exercises, find a comfortable position sitting or laying down.
- Close your eyes. Have an adult ring a bell or play a note on an instrument. Listen carefully and notice the sound that you hear. What does it sound like? Is it loud or soft? Harsh or soothing? Pay attention to the moment that you no longer hear the sound because it has faded.
- Pick a food that you like to eat. Before you take a bite, take a close look at it. What color is it? Is the texture smooth or rough? What does it smell like? Crumble it or press it with your finger. What happens? Is it sticky? Does it fall apart? Finally, taste it. What does it feel like in your mouth? Is it crunchy or soft? Does it taste sweet or salty?
- Put a paper plate or an upside-down plastic cup on your belly. Watch as it moves up and down with each breath that you take. Try taking a slow, deep breath and watch how that changes the movement of the plate or cup. Now breathe at a more comfortable rate and watch how the movement matches your tempo.
- Close your eyes. Imagine a big fluffy cloud floating above you. See it coming down gently beside you. Imagine what your cloud looks like. What color is it? Does it have a shape? Climb up onto your cloud and let it take you anywhere you want to go. What things do you see as you float on your cloud? Where will it take you? Let your cloud fly you to a place where you can rest quietly and feel peaceful.