Fun Mindfulness Exercises for Everyone

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Mindfulness is attending to the present moment while remaining focused and non-judgmental. Mindfulness skills practiced daily enable self-acceptance and connection to self and the world. Mindfulness also helps to slow down and find peace and joy in everyday life. Here are a few of my favorite ones. Practice them alone or as a family, and make them your own by adding your touches.

Mindful nature walks: Take a walk outside through nature. Notice the sounds and smells. What do you see? Take this time to observe as if this is the first time you have experienced this scenery and the surrounding elements of nature. When you get distracted, return to the scenery around you.

Breathing colors: Choose two colors, one to breathe in and one to breathe out. Blue works well for the in-breath since it matches the cool feeling of the air coming in. Red works well for the out-breath, as it matches the warm feeling of the air leaving your body. However, choose the colors you want for the reasons you want. Close your eyes and pair each color with its breath.

Gratitude lists: Make a gratitude list with everything you can think of, big and small. Meditate on the list for several minutes. Note any changes in your emotions. Alternatively, write a thank-you letter to someone, specifically what the person did to receive your gratitude.

Jenga: Focus with one mind as you remove blocks and build the tower higher and higher. Notice your connection to removing and stacking the blocks, immersing yourself in the activity. When the tower tumbles, remember that this is the natural outcome of the game.

Categories: Pick a category, such as animals or foods, and list as many items from that category as possible. In a group setting, go around the circle with each person repeating the items already listed before adding to the category.

Untie knots: Start with string or a shoelace that has been tangled and knotted up. Start to untangle and untie the knots. What emotions come up? Frustration? Impatience? Breathe and practice acceptance as you mindfully complete this activity.

Ten details: Anywhere, anywhere, pause, observe, and Describe ten details you would not have otherwise noticed.

Interconnection: Contemplate how you are connected to all the items around you, your surroundings, all the people in your life, and/or the universe in general. Take it a step further and creatively illustrate this.

Lie in the grass: On a day with nice weather, find a patch of lush, green grass in your yard or a park. Lie down, close your eyes, and focus on the connection and sensations between your body and the grass, feeling yourself supported by the ground. Breathe in the sensations and stay there awhile. Following the exercise, notice what you are feeling. Alternatively, keep your eyes open and gaze at the sky, watching the clouds float into and out of your field of vision. Contemplate the connection between yourself, the earth, and the sky. Take your time in this place and breathe.

Source: Pederson, L. (2017) Mindfulness Exercises. The Expanded DBT Skills Training Manual, (2nd ed.).