32 Mindfulness Exercises And Activities You Should Practice In 2018

Published by Paul Martin Harrison on

daily mindful habits

There are 25 mindfulness activities and exercises that will make a seriously huge effect on your happiness and wellbeing.

As a meditation teach people often ask me for daily mindful habits they can do to help keep them in that Zen mindset.

Mindful exercises / activities are seriously helpful.

But you need to know which mindful habits to focus on. Because the truth is anything can be done mindfully.

What makes something a good mindful habit is whether or not it is conducive to inner peace and enlightenment.

Mindfulness exercises train the mind to stay mindful all day (and of course there are excellent apps like Calm & Headspace that help make mindfulness a habit)

 

Contents

Why mindfulness exercises are so important

A habit is simply anything we do routinely. But routine is everything. In fact, it is our habits that form the backbone of the success mindset.

The reason why habits are important is because they are the things we do without thought.

Some people have bad habits (example: smoking), which they do regularly without thought (mindlessly). As a result they become seriously sick because of bad habits.

Good habits helps to live a healthy life every day, automatically, without even thinking about it.

Examples of good daily habits

  • The habit of exercising
  • The habit of eating healthy
  • The habits of getting plenty of time outdoors
  • The habit of drinking water
  • The habit of meditating
  • The habit of being mindful

 

6 Facts About Habits

It is easier to make habits than to break them [1]

To make a new habit, you must change your behaviour. Thinking alone cannot create a habit [2]

It is easier to change habits when you’re in a different environment [3]

Habits are activated based on different triggers. 

The more ingrained a habit becomes, the less energy it takes to perform. [see 3]

Scientists at UCL say it takes 66 days to form a habit. Click To Tweet

 

Why mindful habits are the best

Thousands of THE DAILY MEDITATION’s readers have started getting in the mindful habit by using my meditation tracking strategy.

That’s a good thing.

The mindfulness habit helps us to meditative when we are not meditating.

When you’re being mindful, you simply observe the world, or your thoughts and feelings, without judging them as positive or negative, good or bad.

This relaxed, accepting state of mind is incredibly healthy.

So the main benefit of mindful habits is that they keep the mind in a healthy state.

Other benefits of mindful habits include:

  • reduces stress
  • increases life satisfaction
  • improve produtivity
  • increases cognitive functioning
  • improves mood
  • improves overall wellness

Mindfulness exercises and activities are a powerful way to strengthen the mind.

There are 25 really easy mindful habits that will help you to live in the moment from morning to night.  Why not give each of them a try. They will empower you to start living in the moment.

 

Try these 31 Mindfulness Activities To Stay Mindful All Day

There are many exercises that increase mindfulness.

We can use these exercises to train the mind to always be mindful.

The following are the most effective little mindful habits to use daily.

 

1: Use this habit of thinking mindfully

Make (healthy) positive thinking a habit.

Healthy positive thinking is not the same as “positive thinking”.

Positive thinking is about forcing the positive (e.g. “I’ll make a million dollars today”)

Healthy positive thinking means thinking in a healthy way.

5 steps to the positive thinking habit:

  1. Challenge negative thoughts
  2. Look for alternative perspectives (different ways of looking at situations)
  3. Use mental contrasting.
  4. Look for the positive
  5. Focus on compassion, kindness, forgiveness and love

 

 

2: The best mindfulness exercise is to just do what you’re doing

Mindfulness means focusing on what you are doing.

No matter what you are doing, you can do it mindfullly.

Walking? Walk.

Breathing? Breathe.

Speaking? Speak

Whatever you do, do it mindfully. A moment lived mindlessly is a moment lost forever.

The universe created this moment for you. Embrace it. Be grateful for it. Live and love the moments.  Click To Tweet 

 

 

3: One great mindfulness activity is to express gratitude for this moment

Recognise that this moment right now is infinite. This moment stretches across space and time. This moment connects us all together. We might be in different countries. We might be different people. But we’re all now.

This moment is what holds you and me and the whole world together. And that’s pretty awesome when you think about it.

Show appreciation for the individual moments of your life.

How to express gratitude for the moment

  1. Close your eyes
  2. Listen to the world around you
  3. Say (or think): “Thank you for this moment”

 

 

 

 

4: One of my favorite mindfulness activities is to perceive beauty in everything

There is beauty in everything. Every person. Every flower. Every teardrop. Every smile. Beauty permeates the very fabric of existence.

Perceive the beauty. And love it.

The science of Positive Psychology has proven that people who are able to see and appreciate beauty are happier and healthier than others [4].

Just by appreciating the beauty in lie you will be happier and healthier.

Get in the habit of counting things that are beautiful

For instance:

  • flowers
  • smiles
  • blue skies
  • the ocean
  • the way sunlight dances through green leaves

 

 

5: You’ll love this mindfulness exercise: Start smiling a lot

There are so many benefits of smiling.

Smiling:

  • Is contagious
  • Makes the world a more positive place
  • Strengthens the immune system [5]
  • Improves your social life
  • Smiling releases endorphins [6]
  • Smiling is contagious so you make other people happy too

You see that person outside the window? Go on. Give them a great big smile.

 

 

Buddhist Mindfulness Exercises And Activities

 

6: Set a conscious reminder to be mindful

One of the most important daily Buddhist habits is just to be mindful.

Set an alarm to go off every hour.

This is your reminder to be mindful.

When you set the alarm, choose a relaxing sound such as a Tibetan Singing Bowl or bird call. When the alarm goes off, take sixty seconds—just sixty seconds—to be mindful. That’s all it takes, sixty seconds.

Being mindful is easy. Remembering to be mindful. That's the hard part.  Click To Tweet

 

 

 

 

7:  One of the best mindfulness exercises is to connect with your senses

We come to life when we live through the senses.

  • Scent
  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Touch
  • Taste

Your senses are always working. You’re always seeing things, hearing things, smelling things… be aware of those senses. Be mindful of them. Because really, the entire world is brought to life for you through your senses. The more you’re aware of your senses, the more you live. This is one of the most important mindful habits of all. We have five senses for a reason. The more we use them the better we will be.

Our senses are the windows that open the mind to the outside world. Keep them open always. Click To Tweet

 

8: One of the most important mindfulness habits is to practice mindful breathing

Your breath is a sacred and beautiful thing.

Breath connects us to the outside world.

We take in life through air and breathe it deep into our bodies. It sustains us. It keeps us alive.

When you feel stressed, take five deep breaths and really focus on the air coming in and going out of your body.

 

 

 

9: One of my favorite Buddhist mindfulness exercises is “Right Speech”

One of the main Buddhist wisdoms is right speech. This is the idea that all speech should be kind, compassionate, and loving.

Enlightened people have mastered the art of right speech. We always speak consciously and with love and kindness.

For newcomers it can be a challenge.

The next time you say something to someone (anyone) really focus on the sound of your words. Your words are infinite. You could say anything. You could say something so profound it changes someone’s life. Focus on your words and really say something that truly matters.

This is one of the absolute best mindful habits because it creates happiness for us and for the people around us.

Always speak with love and compassion, as though the person you are speaking to is the most important person in the world. Click To Tweet

 

 

10: You’ll love this Buddhist mindfulness activity: Practice the “Middle Way”

Did you know Buddhists are more satisfied in life than the average person?

One reason is because of the Buddhist habit of majjhima patipada, which is the “middle way”.

The middle way is about moderation. It is about not indulging and not starving yourself. In other words, living in moderation.

This Buddhist habit teaches us to enjoy life but without indulging, and to control our senses but without self-mortification.

 

 

 

 

11: Practice the Buddhist mindfulness exercises of eating mindfully

Food is divine.

Food nourishes our body and mind.

It is enlightened to be mindful while eating. And it is one off the most important Buddhist habits.

  1. The next time you go to eat something, choose the food mindfully.
  2. Eat mindfully and slowly.
  3. Really pay attention to what you’re eating.
  4. Be aware of what it is, where it comes from, what it tastes like… everything.

This is one mindful habit that will make you a lot more healthy.

 

 

Daily Mindful Habits For Fitness And Health (from Yoga)

 

12. Do these mindfulness exercises in your office chair

One of the absolute best habits for healthy is to do some basic yoga poses at your office chair.

The majority of people live too sedentary lifestyles. Scientific research shows that sedentary lifestyle contribute to premature death.

To counteract this, start doing my favorite yoga habit: doing yoga in your office chair.

Try the Office Yoga App [Play Store]. It shows how to do asanas while at the office.

 

13. Practice the yoga habit of pratyahara

Pratyhara  is a yoga practice for the mind. In pratyhara yoga we reduce negative influences (such as negative people) and increase positive influences.

We can turn this into a yoga-habit. To do so, be mindful of the affect different people, objects, and sources of information (like TV, Facebook etc).

When you come across negative influences, find ways to reduce them. This could be as simple as turning off the TV, or a complex as ending an abusive relationship.

 

14. Go slow–One of the most important of all mindfulness exercises

Life is a musical score in which beats are made of moments. Go slowly enough to enjoy those moments. Don’t rush over them. This is your life. Love it. Live it. Enjoy it.

Take the time to slow down each day. One way to make this a habit is to choose specific times when you will slow down (such as at lunch break).

To slow down, you can:

  • meditate (try meditative writing)
  • listen to relaxing music
  • go for a walk
  • do yoga or tai chi
  • turn off your devices

 

15. Another great mindfulness activity is to connect with your body

Ultimately, yoga is about connecting mind to body. It’s about the ind-body connection.

The best yoga habit: mindfully observing your body at various times of the day.

Get in the habit of observing your body: your posture, your body language, your breathing

You will notice many things when you do this. You may find times of bad posture, which could be causing spinal injury. You could find that you have a bad body language gesture that is giving people a negative impression of you (for instance, you have a habit of scrunching your nose, which is an unconscious sign of disgust).  Negative body language like this can have a massive effect on your social life.

By being mindful of your body you can find bad habits that you can change. This can boost your health, your image, and yes, your yoga practice.

 Ultimately, yoga is about connecting mind to body. It's about the mind-body connection Click To Tweet

 

16. Yogic Laughter

There is a kind of alternative yoga called Laughter Yoga.

In laughter yoga, we intentionally laugh and let out stress. This is cathartic and good for the soul.

The next time you laugh, truly go with it, and mindfully observe the feelings of laughing.

 

 

 

Daily Spiritual Habits

 

17: Shower with your eyes closed

Eyesight is the most powerful sense of all.

We humans receive 80% of our perception of the world via sight. [7]

There is mounting evidence that other senses increase rapidly when we close our eyes [8]

When we close off our sight, we become more mindful of our other senses (and we also improve our cognitive functioning because we are less distracted by external stimuli).

To take advantage of this, try mindfully showering with your eyes closed.

How to shower mindfully

  1. Get the shower to the right temperature
  2. Strip
  3. Get in the shower.
  4. Closer your eyes.
  5. Be mindful of the sounds, feelings, and scents in the shower.
  6. Mindfully wash your body
  7. Express gratitude for the water.

 

18: Meditate

There are over a hundred benefits of meditation. And the majority of those benefits can be gleaned from as little as 20 minutes a day.

But how do you make meditation a habit so that you actually do it every day?

From years of personal experience my advice is to meditate in the morning.

Our willpower is highest in the morning. Plus, in the morning we have less on our minds and are less likely to be distracted because we have yet to start doing anything.

A particularly good idea is to change your alarm to a Zen sound (for instance, use an alarm that has chanting sounds). Then you can wake up to a relaxing sound and immediately start meditating.

Meditation is one of the best ways to start your day positively.

 

 

19: Be mindful of the elements

The elements are sources of great power.

By being mindful of the elements we can connect with nature and with the divine.

Start with water.

Water is one of the most divine things in the world. It’s pure, and it’s perhaps the number one representation of the power of nature. The next time you’re around water, just take a moment to meditate on it. Focus on the flow of the water. Feel the energy and notice how free water is. Ask that sense of freedom to enter your own life.

Rain.

Rain is the healing of the land, the purifying of the world. Rain connects the sky to the earth. It’s symbolic of the perpetual cycle of life. Whenever there’s rain, meditate on it. Stand out in the rain and feel the cool droplets cleansing your spirit.

Thunder.

Thunder is a symbol of power. Close your eyes and listen to that roll and clap of thunder in the skies above. Listen  mindfully. It will connect you to your inner power.

 

 

20: Walk with spirit

Most religions and spiritualities have walking practices that are used as meditation or for connecting to the divine.

Zen walking, for instance, is a Buddhist practice in which we focus on the sense of movement.

Christians can walk in a religious way by being mindful of how they walking through God’s creation, being mindful of the land and they move through it.

Wherever you walk, walk mindfully.

 

 

 

 

Daily Mindful Habits For Brain Training

It’s important to make room for some brain training habits too.

Here are some of the best habits for training the brain.

 

22: Read inspiring books / quotes

Books are beautiful. When you read a book you experience many of the same states as you do when you meditate. Your mind slows down. You relax. The noise dissipate. Our heart rate lowers.

 

23: Mindful intent

It can be easy to turn your day into a blur. You start out with ideas of what you want / need to do, and you set about doing them. But the plan doesn’t quite work out so you end up doing two things at once, then three things… and you’re not really focusing on any of them. Tell yourself the one thing you’re going to do. Do that one thing. Complete it. Then move on.

This is a habit of mindful intent. We are choosing to do one thing, and then focusing on that one thing absolutely

 

 

24:  Oh that scent in divine

The sense of smell is immensely powerful. Smell is connected to memory. When we smell things we bring memories to mind. Therefore, we can use sense of smell to get in touch with ourselves.

Here’s how:

  1. Smell something
  2. focus on the smel
  3. focus on the thoughts and feelings that arise
  4. If a specific memory arises, meditate on it

 

25: Get in touch with your intuition

Intuition is very powerful. Science suggests that people are at their wisest when they listen to that little voice inside. Let your inner voice speak to you, and listen.

mindful habits

 

Six Simple Mindfulness Exercises for beginners To Get You Started

These beginners mindfulness exercises are absolutely zen-sational. Give each one a shot and let me know how you get on. Make sure you’ve read our Beginners Guide To Mindfulness before you start.

26: One Minute Breathing

Mindful breathing is the single most important mindfulness technique.

This exercise is highly versatile. You can do it just about anywhere, whether you’re lying in bed or out for a walk. And it only takes sixty seconds.

Simply breathe in through your nose, hold for a count of five, and then breathe out slowly. As you breathe, focus on letting your breath flow naturally and easily.

At times your mind will lose its anchor and you’ll find yourself flooded with thoughts. Simply observe those thoughts. Let them be. Let them go. Watch your breath with your senses. Observe as your breath becomes one with the wider universe.

If you thought you would never be able to meditate, guess what? You’re now meditating, and it only took one minute.

27: Mindfully observing the beauty of nature

simply spending 20 minutes mindfully observing nature will make you happier and healthier.

This is a very easy mindfulness exercise, but it’s also highly potent. It’s one of my personal favourites, too. It connects you to the beauty of nature.

To do this exercise, start by picking an object of natural beauty; a waterfall, for instance, or a flower.

Once you’ve chosen a subject to meditate on, begin to observe the object through your senses. You can do this in just a couple of minutes, that’s all.

I personally love rainbows. Whenever there’s a rainbow out I’ll spend five minutes just mindfully observing it.

Allow yourself to really appreciate and enjoy the beauty of the thing you’re meditating on. Let your spirit connect with the object. You will find this immensely relaxing

 

 

28: Train your brain to be mindful automatically 

This exercise is a way of creating “anchor points”. With this exercise you’ll naturally train your brain to become mindful at specific moments.

It’s easier than it sounds. If you’d like to do this exercise, simply pick a few things that you do every day—for instance, turning the door handle, having a shower, opening the curtains…

When you open the curtains (for example) allow yourself to be completely mindful. Take that moment, those few seconds, to be completely mindful—the same with turning the door handle or having a shower. Make those your mindful moments.

Every day you perform these simple tasks, allow yourself to be mindful. Through a process of repetition you will train your brain to naturally be mindful at those moments. The process will soon become automatic. Then, you’ll have mindful moments without even having to try.

I love this exercise because it allows you to take mundane every day activities—like turning a door handle—and turn them into your own little moments of mindfulness.

29: Mindful Listening

Practicing mindful listening will make you more aware and more focused on the present moment. It’s another great mindfulness exercise.

Everyone loves a good listener, right? But even better than a good listener is a mindful listener.

Mindful listening is all about listening to people in a non-judgmental fashion. Not only is this excellent for the person you’re listening to, but it’s fantastic for you too.

Most of us are highly influenced by the things we hear. It can be quite easy to become irritated when someone says something thoughtless, for instance. But when you practice mindful listening you stop being affected by words.

When you’re listening to someone speaking, just focus on the sound. Don’t judge, just listen.

You can also do this activity with music. If you play an instrument you likely do this already. I’ve played piano for thirty years. When I play I sink into the music. I let it take me. I flow with the sound of the piano.

And if you’re not a musician, hey, no sweat, just put a piece of relaxing music on and listen to it mindfully. You’ll find this supremely tranquil.

30: Do what you’d do anyway, just do it mindfully

The Wax On Wax Off scene from The Karate kid is all about mindfulness. Mr Miyagi is giving Daniel a mindfulness exercise.

A lot of us literally don’t have any time at all. I know there are often days when I’d do anything for five minutes just to chill in. How do you practice mindfulness on days like those?

The trick is to take an activity that you’d do anyway. For instance, you have to do the dishes. Why not do the dishes mindfully? Or how about eating. You have to have dinner, why not eat mindfully?

Three awesome things happen when you do chores mindfully: 1) You get a good spot of mindfulness, 2) You complete the task you have to do anyway, and 3) You do that task quicker and better than normal because you’re focusing on it.

So, do the thing you need to do, just do it mindfully.

You remember the scene from The Karate Kid when Mr Miyagi is teaching Daniel to clean his car, and he says “Wax on, wax off”. He’s teaching Daniel to clean his car in a mindful way. The trick is to be one with the movements, one with the “wax on” and one with the “wax off”. Be mindful.

By doing tasks mindfully you’ll get the task done better and quicker, and you’ll get some free mindfulness. It’s a win / win situation. And the true is that you can do anything in a mindful way. You can even lie down in bed mindfully. So the idea of not having another time is bull poop.

31:  Describe things to yourself

Try mindfully describing the beauty you see. This beautiful sky, for instance. What do you see when you mindfully observe a beautiful sky like this?

Talking to yourself is usually considered a sign of insanity. This exercise flips that notion on its head.

The trick here is to observe the things you’re experiencing through your senses.

If you’re out for a walk, describe the sky—the colours, the shapes, the feelings it creates in you—describe the scenery, describe the motion of walking, and so on.

This simple exercise trains your mind to be aware of your senses. It improves the communication between your conscious mind and your unconscious mind. And all you need do is describe a few things around you.

My favorite way of doing this is by using these mindful writing exercises.

32. Try these mindfulness exercises for people with pets.

Even if you’re busy, you still have time to practice mindfulness. It’s really quite easy. Give these exercises a shot. You might just find they make all the difference to your days.

And now, you can try these 25 daily mindful habits, too.

Or, if you are interested in meditating as a family, take a look at my guide to teaching mindfulness to kids.

Leave a comment.

These little mindful habits make a big difference

By performing mindful habits we train the mind to be mindful always.

These little gems make meditation a habit. And the result is increased relaxation, happiness, and productivity.

What’s your personal favorite mindful habit

Leave a comment

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Paul Martin Harrison

Paul Harrison is a meditation teacher, author and journalist based in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential. Don’t miss Paul’s inspirational and enlightening book Journey To The Buddha Within You.

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