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.