Quite often people will take 12-week programs to practice mindfulness in a group setting. However, there are some people who may not like group settings or they just don’t fit in with their personal schedules making it hard to get involved with these programs. No worries. There are a variety of ways that you can still engage in mindfulness techniques as an individual and on your own time.
For many people, the thought of participating in group exercises can cause anxiety and that’s the last thing you want to suffer from when practicing any kind of mindfulness techniques. The whole idea is to lower your stress and anxiety, not create more. So, to help those of you who don’t like working groups here are a few mindfulness techniques that may help you to build your mindfulness in a different way.
This is one of those techniques that is intended to help you become enlightened about yourself. It will help you realize who you actually are and how the bonds of suffering can be broken. Self-inquiry also has benefits such as an enhanced experience of your life, relaxation, greater willingness to change, more creativity, and a better sense of fulfillment and joy.
When you start this meditation make sure to focus all of your attention on feeling you and exclude all other thoughts that might pop up. Follow these easy steps to practice self-inquiry meditation:
- Find a comfortable spot to sit and get into a comfortable seated position.
- Gently allow yourself to feel as if it’s settling into your body as well as your mind.
- Do your best to let go of all of your thoughts and try to clear your mind of all your worries and other issues going on in your life.
- Make sure to focus all of your attention of simply the feeling of being you and you alone. Ask yourself these questions:
- Who are you really?
- What does it feel like to be who you are?
- What makes up who you are inside?
If you find yourself being distracted by stray thoughts, gently bring your mind back to yourself.
The Goal of Exercise
This is one of those mindfulness techniques that you can continue for as long as you want. It can be a difficult technique to do because it does require a lot of focusing on yourself and nothing else. To some, this might not be all that enjoyable, but it’s important to learn how to take time out to focus just on yourself.
The whole goal of this type of meditation is to help you become more aware of your own self and to also become aware of the true source of who you are. It also helps you to not get lost in all the distractions in life.
Five Senses Technique
This is one of those mindfulness techniques that helps to provide you guidelines for practicing mindfulness in almost any situation you find yourself in. You just need to notice anything you are experiencing when using each of your five different senses.
Follow these steps when you practice this exercise:
- Take note of five different things that you see. Look all around you and put your focus on five things that you see during this exercise. Try to choose things that you don’t usually take notice of such as a crack in concrete or a shadow for example.
- Next, you should note four different things you might be able to feel. Bring your focus on four different things that you can actually feel such as the material of the pants you’re wearing, how a warm breeze feels on your face, a smooth surface on a table nearby and so on.
- Now choose three different things that you can hear. Take a minute or two to stop and listen and then notice three different things that you hear in the background noise. It might be the chirping of birds, the hum of your refrigerator, or even the sound of traffic in the distance.
- Next, you should try to find two things that you can smell. Try to become aware of smells that you might normally filter out. This can be unpleasant or pleasant. Maybe you can smell pine trees in the wind, or smell of food coming from a fast food restaurant. Whatever it is, concentrate on these two smells.
This is the Fun Part
- Finally, find one thing that you can taste. Focus on the thing you have chosen and how it tastes right in the moment. You can choose anything you want to taste like your favorite beverage, a piece of gum, or a piece of fruit. Whatever it might be, notice everything about the taste and feel of this item. If you don’t have anything to taste then just notice how your mouth might taste at that moment. You can also open up your mouth and try searching the air that enters your mouth for any taste there might be.
This is one of those mindfulness techniques that is pretty easy to do and can quickly bring you to a more mindful state. This five senses exercise is one that can help you to bring clarity to the current moment in a very short time period.
This is one of those mindfulness techniques that is ideal for anyone who might be strapped for time. There are only three steps in this exercise:
- Turn off your auto-pilot in order to help bring more awareness to whatever you might be doing, sensing, or thinking right in that very moment. Make sure to pause for a moment and find a comfortable posture. Once you are comfortable take note of all your thoughts that pop up and then acknowledge how you are feeling. However, then just let these thoughts and feelings pass and return to being aware of yourself, your current state of mind, and who you are.
- Focus on your breathing for either one minute or for six breaths. The goal here is to focus on just one thing, your breathing. Notice how your body moves with every breath, and just how your stomach pushes in and out and how your chest rises and falls with each breath you take. Notice the pattern your breath creates and then anchor yourself with this awareness of your breathing.
- Finally, take this awareness and expand it out to your body and finally to the environment around you. While you are doing this make sure to notice anything you might be feeling. This could be aches and pains, tightness in your face, shoulders and other body parts. At the same time make sure to remember that your body is a whole and the complete vessel that holds your inner being. Moving onto your environment and pay close attention to the shapes, colors, textures, and patterns of objects that surround you.
Three Minute Breathing Exercise
This is one of those mindfulness techniques that is very easy and quick to perform for those who have very busy lives and can’t perform full body scans. This is especially good for those who find it difficult to keep their minds clear for long periods of time.
This exercise can be broken down into three different sections. Each section is one minute long and can be done in the following manner:
- For your first minute, you should spend some time answering, “How am I doing right now?”. When you ask this question make sure to focus on your feelings. Also, the sensations, and thoughts that come up after you ask yourself this question.
- The next minute should be spent on becoming aware of your breathing.
- The third minute needs to be used for expanding your attention from just focusing on your breath. Feel your breath moving in and out and how this affects your entire body.
Allow Thoughts to Come and Go
No matter how hard you try, don’t be disappointed if thoughts try to pop up during this three-minute exercise. The whole idea is not to block them out totally. Instead just learn to let them pop up into your mind but also to let them disappear again. Just try to observe these thoughts and feelings and then let them go and don’t dwell on them.
All of these mindfulness techniques are meant to be beneficial for you and your individual mindfulness practice. Even though these are targeted for individuals they can also be used in group settings. Some of these might be more difficult than others, but remember that mindfulness is training your mind. This is no different than any kind of exercise where you are training your body. Mindfulness will help you be more compassionate with yourself. It also allows you to self-reflect so that you can live a more peaceful and joy-filled life.