Intermediate Mindfulness Exercises

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PhysioAdvisor’s Mindfulness Series

Intermediate Mindfulness Exercises‘ is the sixth article in our mindful series.

We strongly recommend reading our Mindfulness articles systematically to strengthen your mindfulness knowledge and practise. Begin with the first article in our series – ‘What is Mindfulness‘.

Intermediate Mindfulness Exercises - Mindful Seeing in Nature


Intermediate Mindfulness Exercises

Intermediate mindfulness practitioners should aim to practise at least one mindfulness exercise, 1 – 2 times per day for around 5 – 20 minutes (daily total), on all or most days of the week.

Ideally practise first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. Use a timer to let you know when your practise period is complete.

Let your intuition guide your choice of mindfulness exercise during each practise session. Also begin to incorporate mindfulness into everyday life, giving your complete attention (via heightened sensory awareness) to simple things like:

  • taking a breath
  • walking
  • getting out of bed
  • having a shower
  • getting dressed
  • washing your hands
  • opening a door
  • eating or preparing a meal
  • driving your car
  • doing any type of work
  • listening to someone

Remember, the more time you spend being mindful, the less time you spend in default mode (i.e. ‘lost in thought’). This strengthens mindfulness neural pathways in the brain and erodes default mode pathways. This makes it easier to enter a mindful state over time. It also allows us to realise the long list of health benefits of mindfulness practise including feeling joyfully alive, alert and at peace right now. To review these scientifically proven health benefits, see our article What is Mindfulness?

Below are our intermediate mindfulness exercises.


Mindful Walking

Choose a quiet area (ideally where you won’t be disturbed) either inside or outside. It could be a small area like a hallway, around the block, somewhere in nature or during every day walking. Walk very slowly paying careful attention to the feeling of your feet touching the ground. Notice with openness and curiosity, 4 distinct phases:

  1. The feeling in your heel as it comes into contact with the ground
  2. The feeling of your whole foot in touch with the ground, midway through stance phase.
  3. The feeling of your weight rising onto your toes before toe off
  4. The feeling of your foot during the swing phase of walking

Begin by practising for 3 – 10 minutes in each session and repeat 1 – 3 times per day.

Mindful walking can be practised at any pace, but slower is often better (to help slow your mind and settle into this moment). Walking slowly reduces the tendency we often have to rush from one thing (the present moment) to the next (future moment). It can also sometimes be helpful when starting the walking practise to think the following with each step:

  • I have arrived (step), arrived (step), arrived (step)
  • I am home (step), home (step), home (step)
  • Once you have repeated this to yourself a few times, continue walking paying attention to 1 – 4 above. These initial thoughts can often help to fully settle you into the present moment. They can also help to give you the mindful experience of being at home and exactly where you need to be, in the only place you ever are, the here and now.

Listen to Thich Nhat Hanh (Zen Buddhist Master) talk about mindful walking in this 7 minute YouTube Video.


Mindful Seeing

This exercise is usually practised looking through a window with a view, although if unavailable, could be practised looking at a picture, in nature, or somewhere inside.

  • Begin by looking through a window.
  • Look at everything there is to see.
  • Imagine you are seeing for the first time.
  • Avoid labelling, naming or categorising what you see
  • Explore what you can see directly instead of through thought
  • Don’t think ‘tree’ or ‘car’ instead notice colours, patterns, shapes, textures, movement (e.g. of leaves in the tree) or stillness
  • Explore with curiosity and openness
  • Be aware, but not fixated
  • If you become distracted or lost in thought, become aware of your thinking then gently bring your attention back to something you can see.

Practise for about 3 – 10 minutes in each session and repeat 1 – 3 times per day.


Mindful Hearing

This intermediate mindfulness exercise can be practised in virtually any position or environment, but usually is best performed in sitting or lying in optimal posture.

  • Begin by closing your eyes
  • Imagine you are hearing every sound for the first time
  • Instead of being on the look out for sounds, listening for sounds, practise being open to what is already being heard
  • Allow each sound to come to your ears without effort
  • Avoid labelling, naming or categorising each sound
  • Notice sounds that are close or far, loud or soft, high pitch or low
  • Notice the full duration of each sound
  • Explore the quality of each sound with curiosity noticing any patterns
  • Listen also to the silence between sounds or behind sounds (i.e. the background that allows each sound to come in and out of existence).
  • As you practise this exercise, you can also become aware of your awareness, the one who is listening to the sounds
  • If your mind gets lost in thought, become aware of your thinking, then gently bring your attention back to your hearing in each moment.

Practise for about 3 – 10 minutes in each session and repeat 1 – 3 times per day.


Learn More About Mindfulness

PhysioAdvisor’s mindfulness articles are designed to strengthen your mindfulness practise and knowledge. We’ve deliberately written them as a progressive series designed to deepen your practise. Intermediate mindfulness exercises is the sixth article in our series.

View the next article in our series:

  • Advanced Mindfulness Exercises (Coming Soon)

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