Two simple mindfulness exercises that I love

Here are two simple mindfulness exercises that I love and hope you will, too.

Exercise 1:

What: Paced breathing

How: Focus only on your breath. If your mind wanders, just notice that fact and bring your attention back to your breathing.

  • Step 1: Breathe in for 3 counts
  • Step 2: Hold breath for 3 counts
  • Step 3: Exhale for 6 counts
  • Step 4: Repeat 4 times

Why I love this exercise: First, this exercise only requires your breath and, literally, one minute of your time. So, you can practically do this exercise anytime, anywhere, and often. Second, research has shown that paced breathing exercises like this one, which involve exhales that are twice as long as the inhales, help the body switch from the sympathetic nervous system (the body’s stress response or the “flight-or-fight” response) to the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s relaxation response or “rest-and-digest” response). In other words, after completing this exercise, you’ll be more likely to feel calm and relaxed.

Exercise 2:

What: "I spy" with your senses

How: Remember the game "I spy with my little eye?" Well, this mindfulness exercise is similar to that. Walk through the following steps using mindfulness observe and describe skills to notice what you are "spying" in your surroundings. 

  • Step 1: Notice five things you can see.
  • Step 2: Notice five things you can hear.
  • Step 3: Notice five things you can touch or feel.

Why I love this exercise: Once again, this is a mindfulness exercise that you can practice anytime or anywhere. Also, this is a fun mindfulness exercise you can practice alone or easily include others, which can make practicing mindfulness even more enjoyable!

Next up: One of my favorite awareness campaigns is coming up. Fat Talk Free Week is October 22-26th, 2012 - learn more about it right here on CFJ Counseling Blog. See you soon!