Some recent research is pointing to the real fact that mindful singing and even joining a choir can be very good for your overall mental health. In recent years, it has become very clear that there are both mental and physical benefits that one can gain from mindful singing and singing in a choir. No one truly knows why voices joining together in song can be so powerful. There are a few reasons that this might be true.
The connection of belonging to a community that is like-minded
The sense there is a purpose that’s shared
The possible thrill of being allowed creative expression
All of these things may truly play roles, research has shown that mindful singing and singing in a choir does help to boost mindfulness if a person practices it.
The Choir Effect
Recent research supports that there really is an existence of a kind of “choir effect,”. A study done by Charlotte Wilson and Julie Lynch, both psychologists from Dublin,s Trinity College. They published their research in a journal called “Psychology of Music.”
There were 83 people involved. (65 women and 18 men) all of whom were members of choirs in Ireland. Before and after each of their rehearsals these choir members were asked to fill out two different questionnaires that were created to measure each of their states of mindfulness.
These questions were examined to see what degree the statements in the questionnaires actually applied to the singers by using a 1 to 10 scale. Some of the statements they asked to relate to were things such as:
I am aware of my personal feelings and not get lost in them.
I find it easy to concentrate on all that I’m doing.
I find myself daydreaming or distracted.
Listening to Choir Music
The research then gave the singers the same questionnaires later in the week before and after these same people listened to thirty minutes of choir music. This then let the researchers to see whether the effects of this was stimulated by the singing or to just hearing the music.
What they discovered was that listening to the music did increase the singers levels of mindfulness. However, when the singers actually did mindful singing the levels were even higher when they actually sang the music. So, this shows that listening to the music helps, but singing is far more effective.
Makes Sense That Singing Helps
It actually makes a lot of sense that mindful singing is more effective for mindfulness because singing does require a lot of concentration that is more focused than just listening to the music. Singing requires a lot of attention to details like:
Watching the choir director
Listening to the voices around you
Concentrating on harmony
Remembering the words of the song
The research offers evidence that there is positive effects coming from mindfulness and by mindful singing and singing in a choir enhances all the positive effects that come from mindfulness. It also is proof that incorporating mindful singing in your normal routine can be uplifting and encourages social activity.
Choir Singing Should Be Recognized for Its Benefits
The research suggests that choir singing should be recognized and promoted for the benefits one can receive with regards to better mental health. Choirs can be an incredible way of maintaining emotional and social well-being and it should be recognized for that.
Reasons Everyone Should Try Mindful Singing
Mindful singing can be done by anyone even if they’re not in a choir. Many highly suggest it because it helps to synchronize your body, mind, speech and breath. It’s something that allows you to be totally involved in the moment. That’s what mindfulness is all about.
Below, you’ll find four very good reasons why you should consider trying mindful singing.
Sometimes We all Need to Break Rules
By mindful singing, you give yourself to break the rules a tiny bit. When you sing, you are letting yourself vocalize. When you vocalize through music you are allowing yourself to explore the different sensations of being present in the moment without any judgment or any kind of interpretation.
Just a little bit of a great song can change your experience of being in the present. This is because you’re no longer just here, but you’re right here in the moment, singing. The joy that comes with singing is a huge game changer.
Singing Can be a Huge Gesture of Your Own Self-Compassion
When we are involved in mindful singing it’s actually like we are massaging our bodies from the inside out. This is what is considered to be self-compassion. When you sit down and sing, you can actually feel the act of singing in your chest. When you sing, you feel different parts of your body actually vibrate and it’s actually a very nice feeling.
Singing can also help to relax your muscles. When you take in a deep breath, then you sing on your exhale, you will actually experience the relaxation of your entire body taking place.
Doesn’t Have to Be a Happy Song
Being present in the moment means that you are feeling whatever it is in a total way. You can do this by expressing yourself through mindful singing. This means, if you happen to be sad, it’s alright to sing a song that’s sad. If you happen to be happy, then sing a song that’s happy. You don’t even have to know all of the song, just some of it. Just a little bit of any song that you like will change the experience of being in the present.
Singing Often Encourages More Meditation
Another wonderful thing about singing, especially from the brains point of view is that music and singing will help to stimulate the what’s known as the pleasure center in the brain. When you link mindfulness to pleasure through singing, the instinctual part of your brain will then be programmed to do it more often. This then becomes a habit and can actually lead to the desire to want to meditate more often.
If you’re looking for a way to be able to clear your mind and body you can easily do it by being mindful and clearing some physical spaces in your environment in order to help you declutter your mental spaces at the same time. Follow the tips provided here for being mindful that will help you become more organized and feel more at peace.
Being Neat and Organized
Think about it, don’t you feel a lot better when the environment around you is organized and neat? Doesn’t it make you feel more at peace when you come home after a long day of working and you know that you have a nice neat place waiting for you to go to? Something like your own personal refuge that can help soothe you.
Being mindful can help you be neater and organized because a nice neat space can seem to beckon you to use your own time in the way you want to. A good way to wake up each morning, for example, is to practice being mindful, then set your intention for the day and then finish up anything you may not have finished the day before. Being organized in this fashion can go a long way to helping declutter both your mind and body.
Messiness Impacts the Body and Mind
If you wake up to a space that is messy every day it’s going to fog the brain and can bring on feelings of negativity that can be overwhelming and impact both how your body and mind feels. Often people surround themselves with clutter in order to protect themselves from the outside world. But this does nothing to bring true calm and peace into your life.
Being mindful can help you become more organized and once the clutter in your environment begins to lessen, you’ll begin to feel that your mind is clearing as well. By decluttering your environment can lead to creating a space in your mind at the same time.
Need to Declutter From the Inside
One thing to remember when being mindful is to understand that in order to declutter your environment you actually will need to declutter from the inside out first. This means that you actually need to do some “spring cleaning” of your brain so that there’s room for it to grow. The brain is not something that is static, research has shown that the brain is a neuroplastic entity of its own and it needs a space that’s free from chaos and clutter.
If you want to be able to organize the world around you, here are a few tips on how you can be mindful and clear your mind and body so that you can better organize the space in which you live.
Start With the Body
Stretch Your Mind, Stretch Your Body – When you are mindful, you can calm down by decluttering your mind and make space by allowing yourself to flow with your breath and body by going through some yoga poses. There are all types of yoga poses that you can use that will help calm you and stretch your body to help both your mind and body. You can find simple yoga poses online that you can do any time of the day. Morning and evening, however, can often be the best times to practice your favorite yoga poses.
Add Some Music
Sing or Listen to Your Favorite Music – Another mindful thing that you can do, especially when you might be feeling overwhelmed by negative thoughts, stop and put on your favorite song and listen to it. Better yet, join in and sing with it. Your mind can’t sing a happy song while being negative at the same time. Try it, sing a song that makes you feel really good and see how difficult it is for your mind to remain negative. Listening to positive music when you are trying to organize your space will have an immense impact on how quickly and efficiently you’ll get your organizing done as well.
Make Sure to Get Up and Move Around – No matter where you are, at home or at work, if you find that you are sitting a lot, you might discover how much easier it is for negative thoughts to clutter your mind. Take a mindful approach and get up and move around a bit. If at work, take your break outside and do a mindful walk around the building. If you are at home, put on some music that you can do a few dance moves. This will get those endorphins pumping through your body.
Don’t Forget the Good Things
Remember Good Times in Your Life – This doesn’t mean that you should live in the past. Living in the past could cause you to focus on regrets in your life. Instead, do this the mindful way. This means you should stop and occasionally remember the good times you’ve had in your life. Take time to close your eyes for a few moments. Then recall the first sporting event you ever went to, remember all the things that happened. Or perhaps it’s when you received your first bouquet of roses, your first date, your first child and so on. Whatever it is that brought joy and laughter to your life. Go back to a time and a place that makes you smile just thinking about it.
Include a Thank You
Always Practice Gratitude – One of the best ways to help get rid of your mental clutter is to always remember to be grateful. Always remember to say thank you. If you believe in a higher being, then thank them for all the blessings in your life. If not, then thank those you feel who have brought positive things to your life. Or just say thank you, in general, it all will be positive. To show your gratitude for everything in your life. Show gratitude for everything you are. This will have a positive impact on you. When you express gratitude it has an extremely positive psychological effect on your overall mental health. Believe it or not, showing gratitude can even reduce the stress in your life.
Even though it’s important to note that you never truly can have total control over your life. But by being mindful and choosing to declutter your mind and environment can help you to have a little control. Especially over the uncertainties of life. By decluttering your mind and living space you can actually change the map of your life. Which can bring peace and harmony to your life.
Everyone does it, at the beginning of each new year we gather together a list of resolutions that we want to try and accomplish for the year. These are often personal promises to ourselves that are quite often difficult to keep because often we are too tough on ourselves. This is where mindfulness can come into play.
Resolutions Usually Not Ordinary Goals
Most resolutions people make are not just ordinary goals. In fact, many of them tend to be a lot more powerful and have a greater effect on our psyche. Often they represent not just a good start to a new year but they also can be considered to be new beginnings, another opportunity to achieve things we failed to achieve previously, as well as a new chapter in our lives. Because of this, mindfulness should be at the top of your resolutions list.
Center of Each Goal is Desire for Happiness
If you have ever taken a close look at your list of resolutions you may realize that they pretty much look the same as every year. We all are looking for a way to be healthier, improve our way of life, find more happiness and so on. We wonder if we lose a few pounds if that will make us happier, give up bad habits and so on. Science now has proven that the benefits one can receive from mindfulness can help a person to improve their overall well-being that includes better physical and mental health as well as less stress and even better sleep at night. All of which leads to a higher level of feeling happy.
Life is Totally Unpredictable
The one thing we all need to realize that when we look at our resolutions is that life is totally unpredictable and that causes stress, which is perfectly normal. Often the unexpected things in life can throw us off track and often that’s what causes us to give up on our resolutions. We too often allow the stress to control us and it triggers our behavior to go on automatic and we will return to our habits that have become routine because they make us feel safe. This, in turn, will cause us to very often give up on our resolutions and this is where mindfulness can help us change that reaction to stress and choose ways to change that response to stress and live a happier life.
Over 50% of People Give Up on Resolutions Within Six Months
It’s human nature for us to prefer completeness, outcomes that are whole. For example, an entire hour seems to feel better than say, 57 minutes. A whole week seems to sound better than five days. This is because we too often try to strive for perfection. However, this is one major way that we set ourselves up to failure, especially when it comes to our resolutions. The simple truth is this, life simply happens and you have no control over that fact. No matter how hard you try, there are always going to be reasons that are far beyond your control. These things can and will get in your way no matter how hard you try to change this truth. Mindfulness teaches us that this does not mean we’re failures because this is simply normal and makes all of us normal as well.
Research has shown that a minimum of 54% of those who set down resolutions fail to stay committed to them within six months. However, it is also been proven that it takes almost four months for us to change any behavior we’ve been performing for years. Through mindfulness, we can learn to accept this as a fact and just let it go. Let it go, accept this as truth and just move forward.
Patience Really is a Virtue
As the old saying goes “Patience is a virtue”, mindfulness reminds us of this truth. Society today, however, tends to forget this truth and we want what we want right when we want it. Life simply does not work this way though. Today there tends to be more pressure with the fast speed of technology and competition at a high today we too often find ourselves totally consumed by all the racing around from one thing to another thing. Too often we do so without out even taking time to think about what we’re doing. When we practice mindfulness we will learn how to slow down both our mind and body so we can experience all the things we do and at a pace where we can actually enjoy everything.
Being Positive Can Get Results
Most of our resolutions generally are driven by the desire to try to stop doing something. Another thing that we tend to do is to set these resolutions often at the end of several weeks of our holiday indulgences. By doing this, it alters the mindset and perspective we have on the things that are making us want more control and structure in our lives. Because of this, we will also phrase things in a negative way and then put to much focus on these behaviors that seem to be negative to us. This causes us to do nothing but focus on negativity. Negativity does not get results. However, mindfulness can change that because it helps us to put our focus on the positive things in life and what we can gain by achieving our goals.
Mindfulness helps us to ask ourselves important questions such as:
What is is it that you really want to do?
How do you want to behave?
How would you like to feel and think?
What are the things you want to achieve going to give you in your life?
Mindfulness is a way that can help us connect to the bigger overall picture and helps us develop a greater sense of ourselves. It can help us to find pleasure in the things in life that are simple and can help us make resolutions that are based on what we can really gain from them and not what we hope to lose.
Mindfulness Can Help Us Achieve Other Resolutions
A lot of our resolutions or goals really aren’t that hard to achieve, however, we have to start from the right place to achieve them. If we want to achieve something, we need to be in a state of awareness. It is through awareness that we can manage our behaviors, feelings, and thoughts. Mindfulness can help us become more aware and move us closer to our personal goals.
There is a multitude of benefits that we can gain by putting mindfulness at the top of our list of resolutions. Not only can it help us to achieve those resolutions but it can help us be healthier in both mind and body, experience much-improved sleep and much lower stress levels. Mindfulness can also help to improve our communication skills and improve our relationships.
The best thing about all of this is that it can all be accomplished from the comfort of home. Not only can we practice mindfulness from home but it’s also something that costs absolutely nothing and needs nothing special to practice it. Mindfulness can be practiced while we’re walking, doing our gardening, cleaning around the house, cooking, or any other simple activity we might be doing. Putting it simply, it’s all about us being present in all that we do so that it becomes a habit and our way of being. Once we accomplish that, happiness will surround us.
If you are trying to find a great way to relax, mindfulness techniques and meditation are two ways in which you can not only relax but learn to live life completely present in each moment. They can also help to heighten your overall well-being, spiritual awareness, as well as helping you feel much more positive about yourself and life in general.
Mindfulness Techniques Are Not As Difficult As You May Think
Mindfulness techniques are probably some of the easiest techniques for relaxation and finding the right mindset to bring harmony and peace to your day. One of the best things about mindfulness techniques is that you can just about practice them anywhere and at any time. When you use mindfulness techniques it means that you are trying to actively pay attention to the exact moment that you are experiencing. Instead of allowing your mind to go off wandering, you learn to live in and for the moment through mindfulness techniques. It teaches you to let any distracting thoughts to pass through without you getting hung up in the emotional hangups.
When applying mindfulness techniques you can literally do them anytime during the day. You can practice them when you are working, eating, doing your chores at home such as doing dishes or vacuuming and all by just paying close attention to all the sensations that you experience at that exact moment.
So, What Are the Differences Between Meditation, Mindfulness, and Mindfulness Meditation?
When it comes to mindfulness meditation, it is more like a formal way of practicing mindfulness where you make a conscious effort to focus all of your attention on certain sensations or thoughts and then observe them in a very non-judgmental way.
Mindfulness meditation is just one form of meditation which there are many types available to try each one with its own purposes and techniques.
For instance, Transcendental meditation is probably one of the more popular types of meditation and is practiced all over the world by millions. This type of meditation is very easy to do. One finds a quiet place and then chooses a personal mantra that means something special to them. You then sit very quietly keeping your eyes closed at all times and then repeat the mantra for about 20 minutes. This is usually done two times a day. The whole idea of this type of meditation is to find a place of concentrated or restful alertness. This then can enable you to let go of negative distractions and thoughts without upsetting your balance and calmness.
Some mindfulness techniques, such as mindfulness meditation and other types of meditation can overlap and that’s perfectly fine. For example, when you focus your mind on your breathing, you’d be using one of the more basic and actually more rewarding types of relaxation and mindfulness/meditation techniques that there is.
It Can Be Confusing
Sometimes this can be confusing to someone who is new to mindfulness techniques or meditation because paying close attention to your breathing is present in both mindfulness meditation and basic meditation. But, there is a distinction in the intention of the breathing. If you are focusing on your breathing to say, transcend your own ego and learn to realize your true inner divinity, then that would be basic meditation.
Focus and Be Conscious
Now if you are focusing on your breathing to try to train and harness your mind and then to observe your thoughts that come up in a non-judgmental way, then this would be considered mindfulness meditation.
On a much larger scale, mindfulness and mindfulness techniques are actually a way of being and a way for you to live day to day mindfully and consciously. The ultimate goal of mindfulness is to help you consciously make loving, healthy long-term, compassionate, and peaceful choices in your life. Then your actions and your reactions will reflect these healthy choices.
Basic Meditation & Mindfulness Meditation
When it comes to basic meditation, the intention is to try and trick your mind into letting itself go and give the brain a rest. This rest is to help you realize your “Higher Self”, your “essential oneness” with what you consider to be “divine”.
As for mindfulness meditation, it is more secular and trains your mind, the same way someone would work out to strengthen their muscles. Mindfulness techniques help you learn to concentrate better and avoid wandering around on “auto-pilot” all day.
Mindfulness Techniques for Meditation
Everyone who meditates does it for a variety of different reasons. Sometimes it’s to help to lower their anxiety levels. For others, it’s to help their depression, improve the symptoms of any stress disorders, enhance their memory, enhance their creativity, and many other reasons.
Don’t be afraid to try meditation by implementing mindfulness techniques, yes it might seem difficult in the beginning, but it’s not even unusual for those who are experienced to say that they are still trying to perfect their meditation skills. Some say it even takes a lifetime. So, be encouraged and not discouraged. No matter what you do, you will still benefit from meditating.
If you are serious about giving mindfulness meditation a try you can attend various classes in a group if you prefer that, or you can do it on your own in the privacy of your own home. Below are some mindfulness techniques that should help you get started with your own meditation practice.
Find a Spot and Set Aside Some Time
The first thing you should do is find a nice quiet spot where you can sit down comfortably. You want to make sure that you will not be disturbed. You also want to make sure that you set aside 20 to 25 minutes of downtime when no one will interrupt your meditating.
It’s important to note that all types of meditation including mindful meditation is a “natural state”. Don’t allow yourself to worry about controlling your breathing or your mind. Make sure to not be concerned about the details of meditation because meditation is what is known as your personal and natural state.
Your Awareness Should be Guided by Your Body
Once you have learned to quiet down your mind, it’s important that while you are meditating that you gently guide your awareness to the sensations you are feeling in the different layers involved in your body. It’s important to let your awareness be totally free instead of trying to force it to any certain place. Note if there are any sensations that seem to be prevalent in your body.
Let this awareness slowly settle in with openness, true curiosity, along with a willingness to let it be what it is. If random thoughts pop up, let them be as they are and then guide yourself and your awareness back to your body.
Pay attention to how the sensations might be changing and how your awareness tends to be naturally drawn elsewhere according to your body’s own innate guidance.
Allow your awareness to follow this and trust the wisdom of your body when it starts to guide you. Through awareness, the energy patterns will dissolve in your body and your mind won’t be as dominant.
Focus on What You’re Noticing
When you are meditating, you will notice sensations, sounds, and your thoughts. That’s okay, but take the next step which is to focus on the presence of what is noticing. This might sound confusing because presence really isn’t somewhere in the body and it can’t really be truly defined in any fashion. Presence is actually quite spacious, it’s unchanging, free, and is completely unaffected by any of the details. It could be compared to the infinite sky that surrounds us.
Rest in The Presence
When you rest or abide in the presence you are actually resting in your awareness. Should you find that you are starting to get hung up on your emotions, thoughts or sensations, just let them be. Never judge them or even entertain the notions they might present. Just let go of being aware of them and hold on to the presence and experience it even more.
Capture Your Awareness Faster
In order to be able to reach your awareness faster, you need to set aside more time to meditate. The more you meditate, the easier it’s going to be to capture your awareness and then be able to fall into a much deeper experience of presence and you’ll be able to do it for longer as well.
Never Try to Control the Experience
It’s very important that you don’t try to deliberately control your meditation experience. If you realize that you are trying to deliberately avoid certain sensations, emotions, or thoughts, guide your mind to return to letting these things go.
Don’t Cut Your Time Short
As mentioned before, you should try to set aside 20 to 25 minutes for your mindful meditating with 25 minutes being the ideal amount of time. It’s important that you resist any urges to try and cut down on your meditation time. Sometimes it might take 10 to 15 minutes just for you to unwind and unhook from the outside world. If you cheat yourself of time, you could very well miss out on that ultimate feeling of being in the present moment.
Mindfulness Techniques Could Cut Your Need for Medical Services in Half
Recent research has shown that stress-related issues like insomnia, back pain, IBS, and acid reflux that bring patients to see doctors quite often can be cut drastically by simply being more relaxed. Researchers have discovered that relaxation techniques including mindfulness techniques can help people to visit the doctor far less. In fact, it was discovered that the need for medical services for these issues dropped about 43% when patients practiced relaxation techniques.
Health Benefits of Both Meditation and Mindfulness
Even at the most basic level of meditation or mindfulness, they both can help you take a conscious break from the never-ending thoughts that continually flow in and out of the mind. For some, they use it to help promote their growth spiritually or to find a renewed inner peace. Others will use it as a very powerful way to relax and use as a tool for reducing their stress. Research has shown that both mindfulness and meditation can lower your blood pressure within just three months after starting. At the same time, it can also decrease your psychological distress and can help with coping abilities, especially for younger adults.
Both meditation and mindfulness can help you regulate your emotions and your attention. It also seems to simply improve your overall well-being. It’s been reported that meditation will actually prompt some changes in the amygdala which is a part of your brain that’s associated with processing emotions.
Beneficial Changes in the Brain
Researchers have also discovered that these beneficial changes in the brain continue on even after your meditation is done. They have also discovered that mindfulness techniques can lead to other benefits not just for adults. There are benefits for adolescents and younger children as well that include:
Improvement in social skills and better attention
Less anxiety about tests or interviews
Less aggressive types of behavior in those who tend to have conduct disorders
Improved behavior in class and other social settings
More willingness to participate in activities
Increase in caring for others
Increase in respect for other people
Tips for Practicing Mindfulness Techniques
There are plenty of professionally organized meditation sessions and mindfulness training session available. However, you can still feel free to do it alone and in your own home. Being mindful in your daily life is something that you can do easily at home. You can do it by starting your morning and day off with a simple mindful exercise. Start by putting your focus on breathing for five minutes before getting out of bed. Just focus on how your breath flows and your stomach rises and falls with each breath. This is one of the simplest mindfulness techniques you can do. It will actually help you be much better focused for the entire day.
As the day progresses, it’s important to do your best at minimizing your multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is the exact opposite of mindfulness. If you discover that you are trying to finish five different things at the same time stop. Take a breath and guide your focus back to a single task. Should any emotional and distracting thoughts come into your head, again stop. Then remind yourself they are just “projections” and are not reality. Once you do that, let them pass and don’t stress over them.
Focus is Key
When you take a walk, focus on how your weight feels when it shifts. Pay attention to the different sensations you might feel in your feet and legs. Try to do less focusing on where you are going.
Stop feeling like you need to fill up your time with something to do. Stop and take time out to just be there in the moment.
Take note of how your mind tends to try to judge all of the time. Don’t take these judgmental thoughts seriously because it’s really not who you truly are. It’s also important to practice listening and don’t make any judgments.
Try to practice bringing more awareness to the activities you do. Like when you’re doing the dishes, brushing your teeth, fixing a meal, feeding your pet, driving and so on.
Spend a lot more time experiencing nature and all the sights, sounds, and smells. Become more aware of nature and what it has to offer.
Tips for Practicing Meditation
Meditation, just like mindfulness can be practiced in the privacy of your own home. There really is no need to pay for a group session if you don’t want to. Basic meditation needs very little training.
Just simply sitting quietly. Perhaps have some music playing in the background. Something that’s soothing. Then begin to start rhythmically breathing.
It’s important that you focus on something when you are meditating. You can choose to focus on breathing. You can also choose an object that has meaning to you. Find something that will help you become more fully aware of being in the moment.
Some people who meditate would rather block out anything that’s visually stimulating. They will often close their eyes, but this isn’t mandatory to meditate.
If you do find your mind starting to wander, gently guide it back to your focal point. Then just go on from there.
The ideal amount of time for meditating is 25 minutes. However, if you find that too long, in the beginning, try meditating for shorter time periods. Then try to gradually work your way up to 25 minutes.
Even though you can practice mindful meditation just about anywhere, often it’s much better and more rewarding if you have a special meditation garden to help you through the process. The whole aim of having a meditation garden is to give yourself a place where you can retreat to. It becomes a place to get away and unwind after all the stresses of the day. You don’t even have to know a thing about meditating to create a peaceful and calm meditation garden.
Here’s a little bit of help to get you started on a meditation garden.
Imagine What a Meditation Garden Would Look Like
Take time to think about what a meditation garden means to you and what things would help you relax and rid yourself of the stress. Let the thoughts come and once they do, jot them down on paper or in a journal. Take your thoughts and put them into the practical ideas you can use to create your meditation garden.
When thinking about the garden, remember that this meditation garden is your own garden, it’s intended for what counts and matters to you, not what others want or think it should be like. Also, remember that there is no wrong or right way to create your meditation garden. If it inspires and calms you at the same time, then it will have accomplished its purpose.
It’s important that you try to think of your meditation garden as a room that’s outside. It needs to be a place for you to be able to relax, recline, and rest.
You also want to make sure that it’s one that fits your budget. You don’t want to spend money you can’t afford to spend because that will only cause you more stress.
To get ideas take a look at others gardens around you, check out gardening magazines and books as well as online to help you visualize easier what you might be looking for in your own meditation garden.
Do Basic Ground Work First
When creating a meditation garden there are always going to be some basics you need to think about when you first start. Consider the following:
The size of your garden. You will need to figure out how big you want it and how much space you have to accommodate your meditation garden. Unless you live alone, you need to make sure that you plan it so that it accommodates others as well. You will also want to think about what kind of barriers you might want, benches, fencing, types of plants and so on.
The sound is important as well. It’s best that you find an area of your yard that seems to have the least annoying sounds possible. You want to be able to hear the sounds of nature because natural sounds help you focus better when trying to mindfully meditate.
You also want to consider the types of views that already exist in your yard and you may find something that you will want to “frame” as your focal point for your meditation garden. Find something that inspires you that you can use. If there is nothing, then consider adding something that will fill you with inspiration.
Garden Style Examples
Open yourself up to the possibility of being inspired by garden styles from different parts of the world to use as your meditation garden. Here are just a few styles to consider:
Japanese Gardens – These gardens are ones that incorporate fine gravel and sand patterns. They also often include different Zen elements, Japanese maple trees, cherry blossoms along with the simplicity of geometry.
Chinese Gardens – Many Chinese gardens include things such as fish ponds, trees that overhang, small bridges, stone sculptures, stone pathways, and even small pagodas.
USA Southwestern Gardens – These gardens will often include a design that is simple that includes cacti, succulents, and a small shade tree.
Traditional English Gardens – These are often walled and filled with various flowers and hedges that are native to the area.
Australian Native Gardens – These gardens often include gum trees, fragrant plants, and a lot of different areas that are shaded to offer relief from the sun and its heat. Eucalyptus trees are often included in these gardens.
North American Gardens – These often include carved items made of wood and trees that include fir, oak, and birch. They include many different deciduous plants so one can enjoy the fall colors. They also include lots of plants and bird feeders to draw in the birds.
In the end, though, your meditation garden and what it looks like is totally up to you and what inspires you.
Start Your Plan
If you already have an existing garden then your plan should incorporate some of what already exists because this will make creating your meditation garden far less stressful. Remember, the whole idea of a meditation garden is to have a place of peace and relief of stress.
Make sure to keep your plan in a folder or a binder. This way you can even add magazine clippings or photos in it that will help you put your garden together.
Buy Things That Will Increase the Peacefulness of Your Garden
There are all types of things that you can buy that will help you create a very peaceful feeling for your garden. Some of those things are listed below:
Sculpture – You might look at local artists for sculptures that might appeal to you. Or you can go to a garden center and find something that inspires you. You also might want to make a small memorial of someone you really love or has inspired you in life.
Water Features – Water is probably one of the best calming elements on earth. Water is soothing and calming whether it’s running or still. You might want to add water bowls, a fountain, a trickling water feature, or a fish pond.
Rocks – Rocks and rock sculptures are always a great addition to a meditation garden because they offer solidity and peace to a garden.
Small Altars – Altars are great additions to a meditation garden because you can use them for candles, flowers in a vase, incense or other kinds of spiritual items that bring you peace.
Statues – Statues need to be something that means something to you personally. Don’t just pick one because you’ve seen it in some other garden. Statues need to be personal.
Leave Empty Space – You need to leave some empty space in your meditation garden. This is because that some empty spaces are quite restful and they simply need nothing to fill them up.
Pick Plants That You’re Inspired By
When it comes to plants for your meditation garden, you need to make sure that they are plants that really inspire you. The plants that you choose for your garden need to be ones that bring you a feeling of calmness and they should be plants that really don’t take a lot of your time and energy to take care of. You don’t want to go to a meditation garden that makes you feel like you need to get up and do some weeding or trimming to tidy things up while you’re trying to relax or meditate.
Update and Change It Up
It’s always a good idea to create a garden that allows you to update it or make changes to it easily. You need to be able to change your meditation garden when your needs might change. You don’t want your garden to be one that looks like it’s stuck in time. Always make sure to refurbish and replenish your garden as your needs evolve so too does the needs of your garden.
Pick Best Spot
Finally, it’s important to note that the spot you pick for your garden is important. The area you choose should be one that is cool, as quiet as possible and calm. Remember this needs to be a place that will bring you peace and calmness. A place for you to get away from all the stresses of the day so that once you are done you feel well refreshed and ready to get on with life.
When it comes to the holidays, this is the time of year to experience great joy, togetherness, and sharing with others. However, along with the holiday joy, this time of year can also set up ideal conditions for darker moods to surface. This time of year brings stress for a lot of people combined with their existing obligations which can cause darker moods. Often there are sad things that have happened in the past that bring on “holiday blues” that can make it difficult for some people. This is why mindful navigation through this season can really help.
Tougher On Those Dealing With Emotional Swings
Even though the holidays can be stressful for everyone, it can be even more so on those who happen to suffer depression or emotional swings. For them, the holidays can just be overwhelming. So, how can a person who finds holidays difficult get through it all? Learning to use mindful navigation is one way that can help people not only get through the holidays but maybe be able to find peace and joy in the process.
Don’t Boycott the Holidays
If you are one of those people who choose to turn away from the holidays and boycott them instead of experiencing them, you don’t really have to do that. Through mindfulness, you can use mindful navigation to help you safely get through the holidays and even start to understand why everyone else around you seems to be enjoying themselves even if they are being subjected to the stress of it all.
When you try to use mindful navigation to get through the holidays it’s important that you stop and try to learn why you are withdrawing from this wonderful time of year. Ask yourself if it’s because of resentment, underlying beliefs, negative attitude against things of tradition, negative feelings about certain people or just society itself and how it responds to this time of year? If you have any of these feelings, this is okay, it does not mean that you are wrong or bad. However, these feelings are something that you can use mindful navigation to work with these feelings.
Another thing you may want to consider is if you have feelings of superiority or even pride when it comes to your ideas about holidays and leads you to choose to withdraw from all the fun. If so, you should try to use mindfulness to help you show more compassion to others who have positive attitudes towards this time of year.
When the “Holiday Blues” Start
As soon as you start to feel the “holiday blues” or other difficulties, your mind will start to try and help you understand the origin of these downer feelings. When your mind does this, it starts collecting information from your past and present and then it tries to weave stories to explain or even support the way you are feeling. Through mindful navigation, you can allow yourself to recognize these feelings as what they are, just feelings that you can allow to come and then go. It’s important to be able to be present in the moment so that you can more easily see the true joy that the holidays bring for those around you and even yourself if you don’t allow your mind to add fuel to the fire.
Don’t Deny the “Holiday Blues”
Some people will try and deny or even avoid their feelings of the blues and this can be worse than letting them control them. It’s never a good thing to avoid something, instead it’s better to face them through mindful navigation and accept these feelings that can make things worse. When you try to avoid these feelings it can often lead to the over use of alcohol or even using addictive drugs to try and avoid the growing feelings of negativity. By using mindfulness you can help your mind to calm down and just let the feelings pass naturally.
Use Mindfulness to Be Present
The best thing you can do is to use mindful navigation to help you to become more aware to the present during the holidays and at the same time acknowledge the frustrations of any negative feelings you might be experiencing. The key here is to acknowledge these difficult moments but don’t energize these feelings with trying to create a storyline or explanation for these feelings.
With mindful navigation, you can acknowledge the feelings without explaining them. Just try to acknowledge the sadness, impatience, pain, judgment, frustration, worry, and then let it pass.
It’s important that you calmly examine yourself and see if perhaps you have some unrealistic expectation of yourself or others when it comes to the holidays. If you discover that this is an issue then it’s important to try and drop all of them and simply accept yourself, friends, and family for who you all are. Realize that as long as the people in your life aren’t trying to intentionally hurt you or others, let them be who they are. If you do this, you may be surprised how much more peace you’ll experience during this time of year. Mindfulness encourages you to start accepting things for what they are and stop expecting.
Recognize the Triggers
When you use mindful navigation you need to learn what the obvious triggers are that set off negative emotions and feelings. Is it the thought of being alone? Is it the loss of someone you loved? These triggers can make this time of year very difficult and extremely challenging. This is why it’s very important to make sure that you have people around you that care and are supportive. This can be friends, family, or both. It’s also very important that you are extremely patient with yourself and take care of yourself with love and compassion. Accept the truth that you deserve it. Never be afraid to reach out to the people who care.
Once you learn to accept and acknowledge the present circumstance you’re in you can use mindful navigation to experience it all without judging what’s going on. Mindfulness allows you to explore your mental, emotional and sensations that are related to your “holiday blues” and give it it’s own space and time without feeling bad or wrong about it, the season will seem brighter.
This can be quite challenging but if you just keep practicing mindfulness you’ll be able to open up your mind to the present moment and be able to more freely enjoy it, yourself and others during this time of year.
If you practice mindfulness on a regular basis you will eventually become fully aware of your present experiences in each moment of your life. Once you become accustomed to paying attention mindfully, you’ll realize the deep sense of joy, wisdom, acceptance, and peace that it can bring to your life, even during the busy holiday season.
Everyone knows that when the holidays roll around it can be a time filled with busyness and lots of stress. Often we will forget to slow down and actually enjoy and appreciate the precious moments that make up this wonderful time of year. This is where mindfulness can help you out when the rush of all the traveling and even trying to please each person gets to be too much. Unfortunately, the holidays can be overwhelming. Through mindfulness, you will be able to slow it all down and focus on the beauty of this time of year.
Release the Stress of the Holidays
When the stress of the holidays starts to feel like the walls are closing in on you, you’ll want to try and stop and focus more on what’s important. One great way to do this is to include some mindfulness breathing. Breathing is something that can make it a lot easier for you to focus yourself on the fun things and not the stress of life.
Mindfulness breathing exercises can help you concentrate much better. When you focus on your breathing you’ll help to reduce the thoughts that are distracting your mind.
You may also want to include a little bit of meditation along with your mindfulness breathing. When you include meditation you are going to help release the tension that might be building up in your body. For example, breathe in and say “I clearly aware of my body.” When you breathe out say “I now release all the tension my body is feeling.” You should try repeating this several times all through the day, especially when you feel tense.
You may also want to try doing some deep breathing as well. Breathing deep is a way to help you reduce any anxiety you might be feeling during the holidays. Anytime you feel overwhelmed just take a deep breath and then hold onto it for a count of five, exhale very slowly for another count of five. Try doing this about ten times or at least until you start to feel some relief.
Take Plenty of Breaks and Get Lots of Rest
As important as it may be for you to feel like that you are obligated to play the host at all big gatherings, you need to understand that both your mind and body are going to need some rest. That’s why mindfulness teaches you to be kind to yourself and that means you need to give yourself some time every day to do absolutely nothing. You also need to make sure that you get at least seven hours of good sleep every night, especially during the holidays.
Try delegating some of your holiday tasks to others in order to have less stress on your own plate.
Make sure to set a special time for yourself to just do nothing at all. Even if that means sitting down on the sofa and closing your eyes for just five minutes or so.
Try to not make any kind of plans or do chores before you go to bed. You should give yourself about 30 minutes of time to unwind before you crawl into bed. It’s important that you turn off your phone, TV, and computer during this unwinding time.
Have Some Fun and Laugh
Holidays are a wonderful time to enjoy family and friends and it’s important that you put things down and take the time to just have some fun. Enjoy the company of loved ones and laugh, laughing is one of the best ways to lower your stress and it just makes you feel good all over.
Remember spending time with people you love is what the holiday should be focused on. It’s important to prioritize all the special moments that happen during this wonderful time of year.
Slow Down When Traveling
Many of us need to travel during the holidays and this can be very stressful, especially this time of year. That’s why it’s important to use mindfulness to help you avoid rushing around during traveling. Instead, you need to learn how to slow down. One of the best things to do when traveling is to give yourself ample of time to get to where you’re going.
It’s important to try not to be impatient when you travel. It’s a good idea to expect the unexpected. You also want to do your best to avoid any kind of negative talking. Do your best to focus on making traveling fun.
If you’re traveling with family then take this time to play some games or do other travel activities together instead of ignoring one another. Make traveling as part of the entire holiday experience instead of some dreadful thing. Make sure to pack a variety of smaller travel games you all can play together.
Make sure to also plan time for any delays or down times there might be during your traveling.
Make Sure to Be an Active Listener
In order to minimize any distractions make sure that you make all conversations top priority during the holidays. When talking with family and friends try not to have the TV, computer, phones and other things on. These things make it difficult to focus on the person who might be talking.
When you give all of your attention to someone who is talking is going to show that you care about what they are saying. By being an active listener will let your loved ones feel free to speak. It’s important that when they’re talking that you don’t constantly interrupt them. Put aside the activities you might be doing and be engaged in what they have to say.
Make sure to let them know you’re really listening to them by asking questions or nodding in acknowledgment.
Use Mindfulness When Eating
Sitting down to a big holiday meal can be filled with excitement and everyone wanting to rush through the meal. However, that’s not the best way to get through any meal, but especially a holiday meal. These meals should be a very special time where you not only eat your favorite foods. It’s also a time to enjoy these foods with those you love. It’s very important to savor each bite and each moment spent with your family and friends. Here are a few tips on mindfulness and eating:
Try to slow down when you’re eating. Make sure to enjoy every single bite. Remember to put your fork down when chewing your food. This gives your body time to let the brain to feel satisfied.
Try to make eating a grand event instead of some mindless snacking session in front of a TV or while on the phone. Make sure that these things are turned off when eating.
Avoid forcing yourself to eat more than what you really need to eat. You really don’t have to do this just because there’s so much to eat. If you want to taste everything just dish up small portions of all the food.
Appreciate All the Small Things
Even though mindfulness teaches it’s important to appreciate the small things in life, the holidays are the ideal time to practice this. Do your best to not dwell on the negative this time of year. Instead be grateful for what you have and for your loved ones.
Share with others what you’re grateful for and ask them to do the same in turn. It’s important during this time of year to be aware of what we’re truly grateful for.
It’s also very important to be kind to everyone. Yes, the holidays are hectic but that’s not a reason to be negative or unkind to people. Make sure to always have a smile for those you come in contact with, even if you don’t know them. It’s important to put yourself in their shoes. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Finally, and this is probably the most important thing is to love others and love yourself. Through mindfulness focus on your thoughts and feelings without judging yourself. It’s important that you do the same thing with those around you. Don’t allow your thoughts to drift off towards anger, guilt, pain, or envy. Instead, see what it really means to be alive and in communion with those around you.
Do activities that fill your entire soul with love and then share that love with those around you. Even if this just sitting in your favorite chair in front of a warm fire. Make sure to do things that simply make you happy during this time of year and you’ll be amazed at how uplifting that will be and how quickly that same feeling will spread to others.
Getting together in a mindfulness meditation group is a wonderful way to be able to connect with others that you work with or with your family and friends. It gives you the opportunity to share with others and to also deepen your practice of meditation by doing it with others.
Mindfulness meditation groups come in a variety of sizes and shapes and they help to provide a feeling of community, support, and accountability when connecting with others while enriching your meditation.
How – When – Where – Who
When it comes to mindfulness meditation groups, they most often start off with just a handful of your friends that often meet in a home and usually rotate their meetings to different homes. However, if the attendance starts to increase you may have to find another place to meet. You may need to meet in a conference room, meeting hall of your local church, the library or someplace else that offers more space. If you have a group of people who need meditation support but have limited access to the in-person mindfulness meditation groups you can always conduct your meditations online in a chat room you can easily set up. No matter where it is, it needs to be a place that everyone feels comfortable.
Who and How Many
When it comes to mindfulness meditation groups, the number of people in each group has no required minimum number of people. Groups can be any size you want. Whether it’s just two people or 20 people, these groups can be successful no matter what. Some people prefer smaller groups because it’s more intimate while others might prefer larger groups because they prefer the collective energy that often comes with larger groups.
Group sizes often will depend on if you plan to have an open or closed format. When it’s an open format new members and drop-ins are always welcome and at any time during the sessions. On the other hand, closed groups are ones that usually set a number spaces that are open and then stop letting new members join once they’ve reached their limit.
As for who should be invited to attend, there should be no limits put on who should attend either. It doesn’t matter what walk of life a person might come from. Almost anyone can benefit from mindfulness meditation.
Just remember that you should discuss the type of group you want with members you may already have. You want to make sure people will be comfortable with the type of group you choose to conduct.
When you hold your mindfulness meditation sessions is also important. You will want to make sure that you have a schedule that’s going to work for everyone that is in your group. You will also want to make sure that you have a set length of time for the meetings and how often you are going to meet. You will also want to make sure that you have planned activities included in the length of time.
You can choose to meet on a weekly basis, every couple of weeks or just once a month. It should all depend on what your members prefer. You can also schedule the sessions to last for an hour or they can last for several hours in order to engage in mindfulness discussions after your mindfulness meditation session. Again, it all should be something the entire group agrees on.
When it comes to putting together a mindfulness meditation group, you should have some of the basic set of guidelines written prior to starting the group. This will help to make the sessions go a lot smoother. These basic guidelines should list the purpose of your group meetings, it should include the basic structure for your meetings and they should help to orient all members including new members as they join the group. You might include the following:
Description of the format
Time of sessions
How often group meets
Whether the group is open or closed
Source of inspiration
Meditation Group Format
Your mindfulness meditation sessions can include a variety of different activities. For example, you could just have a simple format of just meditation that can include silent and guided meditation. It can also include a simple and friendly greeting prior to starting.
Other groups might want to include some meditation readings, meditation that’s guided and some in-depth sharing time with all members. Other groups often include chanting, having a meal together or even do some walking meditations.
A popular format that many use for their mindfulness meditation sessions is one that includes the following:
Start off with a guided silent seated meditation
Short check-in from all members and a time to share difficulties, questions, and joys of their daily living experiences
Close with a loving and kind meditation to foster a better sense of connection with one another and the world
When you include a sharing period for people in your group it gives them the opportunity to truly listen to each other while they pay attention to the feelings that arise within themselves during their sharing. Sometimes people like to pick a specific topic to focus on when they share, these topics can include:
Mindfulness when working
Dealing with anxiety
Dealing with conflicts in life
Facilitating Your Mindfulness Meditation Sessions
When it comes to facilitating your mindfulness meditation session, it will depend on what members of your group prefer. Some groups will pick a facilitator to handle all meetings or they might want to alternate who will conduct the meetings each time. Some groups will have co-facilitators at all of their meetings, depending on the size of the group.
A facilitator doesn’t always have to lead or even teach the group each session. With some groups they do. However, quite often the facilitator is the one who takes care of arrangements for the meetings, keeping time during the meetings, setting up prior to the meeting making sure they have ample chairs and other items needed. The most important thing that a facilitator does is to make sure the sessions are conducted in a safe place that has a stable atmosphere for everyone to meditate and one that makes them feel free to engage with others in the group.
Being a facilitator of a mindfulness meditation group can actually be quite rewarding but it can also be challenging as well, depending upon the responsibilities a facilitator might have. It’s important to remember that when first starting off, every meeting is going to be a new learning experience and that’s why it’s important that the facilitator is quite open to receiving feedback from their members. Facilitators also need to be willing to adjust in accordance with the feedback they receive.
Get the Word Out About Your Group
If you want to get a good sized group going you are going to have to get the word out about your mindfulness meditation group. Here are a few things you might want to try doing:
Make up some fliers, postcards, or leaflets that invite others to come join you. Make sure to distribute these items at places like hospitals, community centers, yoga studios, libraries, health food store bulletin boards.
Try to get permission to list your group on various different mindfulness websites.
Advertise on social media.
Make sure to encourage current members, family, and friends to tell others about your group.
When your mindfulness meditation group starts to grow, you may want to organize a weekend retreat or at least a day-long retreat in order to provide members with more opportunities to make new friends and bring others with them to see what mindfulness is all about.
Mindfulness exercises are something that can be done by an individual or in groups and can be done just about anywhere you choose. If you are thinking of doing some mindfulness exercises for a group of people either with your family and friends or for your employees, here are a few exercises that you can choose from to conduct.
Note to Leader of Group
These exercises are good for ages eight years and above and each exercise takes about 15 minutes each so it’s totally up to the leader on how many of them to conduct. The whole goal of these mindfulness exercises is to try and help people to learn how to take some time out to slow down and simply connect with the world around them.
Remember, mindfulness is to learn how to pay attention to something purposefully. It is intended to help you become aware of all of your thoughts while staying present in the moment. These mindfulness exercises are specifically designed to help people slow down as well as pay attention to what’s going on all around them and learn how to keep their focus on the present.
Mindfulness Exercise #1 – “I Don’t Have a Minute!”
Instruct your group to stand in a circle with their chairs behind their knees. Ask every person to close their eyes and be silent while doing this. Their task is to try and count 60 seconds and then sit down quietly. The leader of these mindfulness exercises should be in control by counting the minute and note after the exercise note how many seconds it took for the very first person to sit down to the very last person. Also, note to see who stood for the entire minute. Then ask the following questions:
How easy or hard was it to guess what a true minute was?
What things did they notice while they were counting to 60 seconds?
How did they feel during that minute?
What things did they hear?
Did the movements of others influence them to sit down?
Have them break off into smaller groups if you have a large group and instruct them to think about proverbs or sayings that relate to time itself. Have a discussion about what these sayings or proverbs actually tell them about time. After that, read this quote to them: “Time is what we want most, but it’s what we tend to use worst.” Ask them if they agree with this and if they think we have too little or too much time on our hands. Also, ask them if they think they use their time wisely.
Mindfulness Exercise #2 – Time to Tune In
This is one of those mindfulness exercises that’s meant for participants to focus and relax either at the beginning of the exercise or at the end of it.
Ask everyone to get comfortable either on the floor or in a chair. Then instruct them to close their eyes and think about their own sense of hearing as if their ears were a radio and able to change them to different stations. Tell them to try and listen to all the sounds far away for a few seconds. After that ask them to change their station and try to focus on the sounds close by or in the same room with them. Do this for a few seconds and then ask them to change the station again and try to focus on listening to the sounds of their own body like their heartbeat, breathing, and so on. Try guiding them to pay attention to each part of their body. Have them start with their toes, legs, hips, hands, arms, shoulders, their neck and finally their head. Once you’ve done that ask them to change the station once again and have them focus just on their breathing. Now switch to all the sounds in the room. Finish this exercise with them focusing on the sounds that are far away again.
Ask them the following questions when finished:
Ask them if they feel any different after the exercise than they did when they first started.
Was it difficult or easy to concentrate?
What did they think was the easiest part of the activity?
What was the hardest part of the activity?
Ask them why it might be important to listen more often.
Mindfulness Exercise #3 – Rain Shower
This is one of those mindfulness exercises that kids should really enjoy. The leader of the group will instruct everyone to sit in a big circle with everyone facing in. The whole idea of this exercise is for everyone to try and pay close attention to an action the leader does and copy it exactly one person after another. The first thing to do as the leader is to rub your palms together gently. The next thing to do is to click your fingers together quietly and then loudly. After that, slap your hands on your legs and gradually get louder each time. From there stomp your feet on the floor or ground. Once you’ve finished doing that go back to slapping your legs, then clap your hands, click your fingers, rub your palms all the while you get quieter and quieter. One by one, every person should end up being silent and the rain shower is over.
Mindfulness Exercise #4 – Cool Little Kiwi
This is another one of those mindfulness exercises that kids will probably find fun. In this exercise have a bowl or basket of kiwis, one for each person in the group. Ask everyone to take their own kiwi. Instruct them to get to know their kiwi personally. Ask them to be careful with their kiwi and try not to damage them. Have them look very closely at their own kiwi. Have them turn them and check for any distinguishing marks and how the skin feels to the touch. After they’re done have them return the kiwis back and mix them up. Ask each person to pick what they think is the kiwi they had. Once they think they have their kiwi ask them these questions:
Ask them if they are certain they took back the right kiwi.
How do they know it’s the same kiwi?
Did they give the kiwi a name?
Ask them what this tells them about things they see each day? Have them think about all the things they do each day and some of the things they do automatically. Are they done without even thinking about it?
Mindfulness Exercise #5 – Minding Your Chocolate
Part 1 of Exercise
Instruct everyone to sit down comfortably and then show them a big bar of chocolate. Ask them if they even know where chocolate originally comes from? Do they know what’s included as ingredients? Do they know what’s involved in making it and how many people it takes to process it? Then read the following to them:
“ The secret of delicious chocolate was discovered 2,000 years ago. The cacao tree is the treasure that held the secrets of chocolate and these trees are found in Central America and Mexico only. The ancient people of this area used to mix ground cacao seeds with peppers and cornmeal to make a frothy and spicy drink. The first Europeans didn’t get a taste of chocolate until the 1500’s when they took it back to Spain with them. By the way, a cacao pod usually contains around 30 to 50 seeds. That’s enough to make around seven chocolate bars.”
Part 2 of Exercise
Once you are ready, make sure each person is comfortable and give each of them a piece of chocolate and then ask them to close their eyes and listen to what you read to them:
“Take the chocolate and feel how much it weighs and what the shape feels like. Put your chocolate to your nose and smell it. How does your body actually respond to the smell of the chocolate? Does your mouth water? Keeping your eyes closed, put the chocolate in your mouth and just let it rest there on your tongue. Where can you taste the chocolate? Is the taste on your tongue, palate, cheeks, or throat?”
“While you let the chocolate rest in your mouth, consider the cocoa bean it used to be. Can you see what the bean might look like? What does the bean feel like? Now notice your chocolate again, is it still there on your tongue? Do you still smell and taste it? Keeping your eyes closed swallow your chocolate. Can you follow it while it travels down your throat on its way to your stomach? Once you feel ready you can open your eyes.”
Once they’ve eaten the chocolate ask the group the following questions:
Was this a different way to eat chocolate than you usually eat your chocolate and how?
When you usually taste your food, do you try and taste all parts of your food?
What did you learn from eating the chocolate in this manner?
How different would life be if you did all things mindfully?
Mindfulness Exercise #6 – Conduct a Sensory Walk
Take the group outside to a nice garden or some area that has grass and trees. Let your group sit down in a circle and then ask them what plants and animals they might expect to see in the area they’re at. Ask them how they receive most of the information about the surroundings they’re in. What other senses do they use? Ask them to close their eyes and then instruct them to listen to the following:
“All of us are going to now rely on just our hearing and this means we need to be totally silent for this exercise. I am going to ask a variety of questions for all of you to think about, however, don’t answer them until we’re finished. Most creatures depend on sounds to gather information about the world that’s around them like dolphins and bats for example. Try to discover three sounds you hear right now. Imagine that you don’t know where you are at, do you think you could guess where you were by the sounds you hear?”
“Many animals also depend on their sense to smell to learn more about the world around them like pigs and dogs. Now, try to find two different smells around you. Since smell is linked closely to memory, do these smells trigger any memories for you? Last, try using your sense of touch. Try to find two different textures, are they wet, dry, hard, or soft? Okay, now open up your eyes.”
After you’ve completed this exercise ask the group the following:
What smells, sounds and textures did you experience?
Which of these do you think were natural and which were human-made?
What sense was the easiest for you to use?
What sense was the hardest to use?
You can use one or all of these mindfulness exercises for your group. It all depends on how long you want this mindfulness session to last. You will also want to consider the ages of those in your group as well.
It is the goal of these mindfulness exercises to help those in the group to learn how to become more focused on the present moment and live in the moment with clear focus and peace by slowing down.
Even though mindful eating isn’t a topic covered as often as other types of mindfulness, it is one that can be important when it comes to helping you to lose weight. Mindful eating is a way to encourage you to become a lot more aware of the relationship that you have with your food. Many people have found it a great way to help them to lose weight.
Think about this, have you ever sat in front of your computer and plowed through a bag of chips or a stack of your favorite cookies and barely realized you were eating while staring at your computer monitor? If you have, you need to realize that gobbling your food is the total opposite of mindful eating. Mindful eating helps you take notice of what you are eating. Mindful eating helps you think about your level of hunger and learn how to savor your food instead.
What Exactly is Mindful Eating?
Believe it or not, mindful eating is an ancient practice as well as one that is practiced in today’s world. The who purpose is to help you become present for what you are eating and how you’re eating it. Mindfulness believes that food should be a blessing as well as a gift that deserves to be savored as well as appreciated. Totally different than the norm which is taking it for granted.
What Does This Type of Eating Entail?
The basic concept of mindful eating is to become fully aware of when you truly feel hungry and what hunger really feels like. Another important thing about mindful eating is that there is really no wrong or right way for you to eat. Every person has different eating needs that fit their personal, spiritual, physical, and emotional needs. It also depends on the circumstance and the situation a person finds themselves in. This means you more than likely will eat differently at home that you might on vacation for example. Mindful eating helps you become aware of the choices you make and not to let yourself become a slave to your habits. Mindfulness helps you to become fully aware of the situations and emotions that might trigger you to overeat and find alternative ways to handle these triggers.
Tips for Mindful Eating
Begin by opening up your refrigerator and make mental notes of all you see in it. Notice how you fee when you look at all the food there is. Consider picking up an item like a piece of fruit and examine it. Really take a long look at it and act like it’s the first time you’ve ever seen it before. Notice the size, the color, smell, shape, and texture. Now pick up something else other than fruit, you might pick up something in a jar or box that might be in the refrigerator. Note all the different things about it and any feelings that might arise when looking at it. Pay attention to the labels and read all of them out loud.
Another thing that you should do is eat something like a raisin and become aware of what you think about when you first look at the raisin and make sure to look at it closely before eating it. Become aware of how it feels and what it looks like. Become aware of the shape, texture, ridges and the smell of the raisin before eating. After you’ve done this put it in your mouth and not how it feels in your mouth before biting into it. Once you bite into it make sure to notice how it feels and tastes.
Thoughts are Allowed
No doubt you may be asking yourself why eat just one raisin at a time and why not a handful? However, you might discover just how satisfying it can be just to eat one raisin at a time instead of several. No matter what you think about it your thoughts are not judged on whether they’re bad or good. It’s all about noticing them and seeing them simply as thoughts and that can be powerful. It helps teach you that you don’t need to engulf your experiences and judgments but just recognize them as feelings and thoughts and nothing more.
Too many times people will get overly consumed by the desire to eat and totally miss out on the actual experience of their eating. Before you know it you’re staring at a plate that’s empty and often you don’t even feel like you’ve eaten.
What to Do if You Find Mindful Eating Hard to Do?
Just try to notice the weight of your food that’s on your utensil or in your hands and then try to slowly put your food in your mouth. Once you’ve done that stay focus on your chewing and then savor every single bite you take.
How Does Mindful Eating Actually Work in the Body?
Mindful eating is something that helps you learn how to eat properly such as how to chew properly and the actual timing of your meals. It also helps you to recognize the feeling of being full. When you eat, your stomach releases some parts of your food to your small intestines in short intervals. When your small intestines sense the food coming, it will release a hormone that’s called CCK or cholecystokinin into your bloodstream. This hormone tells your stomach to slow down the rate of release from your stomach. This hormone also tells your brain when you’re full and that you should stop eating.
When you eat too fast and don’t think about how and what you’re eating it doesn’t let your small intestines to keep up and the hormone isn’t released into the bloodstream and you won’t feel full. This is why it’s very important to slowly chew and eat your food so your digestive system has an idea of what is actually going on so they can release the right hormones and enzymes for the best digestion possible. When you eat slowly and mindfully you are going to always feel much fuller and when you feel full you will eat less and that, in turn, will help in your weight loss.