This is an easy mindfulness exercise, and one that you can do anytime throughout the day. Take a moment right now to try this. Check your watch and note the time. For the next 60 seconds your task is to focus all your attention on your breathing. It’s just for one minute, but it can seem like an eternity. Leave your eyes open and breathe normally. Be ready to catch your mind from wandering off (because it will) and return your attention to your breath whenever it does so.
This mindfulness exercise is far more powerful than most people give it credit for. It takes some people many years of practice before they are able to complete a single minute of alert, clear attention.
Keep in mind that this mindfulness exercise is not a contest or a personal challenge. You can’t fail at this exercise, you can only experience it.
Use this exercise many times throughout the day to restore your mind to the present moment and to restore your mind to clarity and peace.
Over time, you can gradually extend the duration of this exercise into longer and longer periods. This exercise is actually the foundation of a correct mindfulness meditation technique.
You can also use a mindfulness bell to focus your attention on, instead of your breathing. If you have struggled with mantra meditations or breathing meditation techniques in the past, then a mindfulness bell recording can really help you to focus your attention in the present moment and achieve a state of mental stillness.
Pick up an object that you have lying around. Any mundane everyday object will do...a coffee cup or a pen for example. Hold it in your hands and allow your attention to be fully absorbed by the object. Observe it. Don’t assess it, or think about it, or study it intellectually. Just observe it for what it is.
You’ll feel a sense of heightened "nowness" during this exercise. Conscious observation can really give you a feeling of "being awake". Notice how your mind quickly releases thoughts of past or future, and how different it feels to be in the moment. Conscious observation is a form of meditation. It’s subtle, but powerful. Try it...by practicing mindfulness in this way you’ll really start to sense what mindfulness is all about.
In the book Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond, Ajahn Brahm describes his own personal experience of conscious observation...
“The mind is like a megawatt searchlight, enabling you to see so much deeper into what you are gazing at. Ordinary concrete becomes a masterpiece. A blade of grass literally shimmers with the most delightful and brilliant shades of fluorescent green. ..the pretty becomes profound and the humdrum becomes heavenly under the sparkling energy of power mindfulness.”
You can also practice conscious observation with your ears rather than your eyes. Many people find that mindful listening is a more powerful mindfulness technique than visual observation.
As I mentioned earlier in this article on mindfulness, most of them time we live our lives on "autopilot". Our minds seem to have a will of their own. Thoughts come and go, and it seems as though we don’t have much say in what thoughts turn up in our head.
When we are not mindful of our thoughts, they skip from one unfinished idea to the next, constantly interrupting each other and overlapping in a constant stream of pictures, ideas, memories and desires.
Children are free from much of this mental chatter and they are not burdened by the responsibilities of adulthood that we all know so well. To a young child the world full of newness, fascination and wonderment. In some ways, practicing mindfulness is like reclaiming the pure, simple awareness that you had in your youth.
These mindfulness activities will help you to appreciate your life more completely. They'll help you to free your mind and renew the way you experience your life. With this in mind, here are some easy mindfulness activities for you to try.