Mindfulness Exercises for Beginners
Our Mindfulness Series
‘Mindfulness Exercises for Beginners‘ is the fifth article in our mindful series.
We encourage you to read our Mindfulness series systematically to strengthen your mindfulness knowledge and practise. Begin with the first article in our series – ‘What is Mindfulness‘.
Mindfulness Exercises for Beginners
Please note that many of these mindfulness exercises for beginners are just as helpful for maintaining and cultivating mindfulness in advanced practitioners. The simplicity and repetition of these practises, bringing your attention back to the now is all that is needed and is the essence of mindfulness. Remember, the more you practise, the more you strengthen your neural pathways and the more you erode ‘Default Mode’ pathways.
Let your intuition guide your choice of exercise during each practise session.
For beginners, aim to practise at least one mindfulness exercise, 1 – 2 times per day for around 5 – 10 minutes (daily total), on all or most days of the week. Ideally practise at the start and end of each day. Use a timer or alarm to gently remind you when your mindfulness practise is complete.
Begin this exercise in a position of comfort with your spine straight. This may be sitting in a straight back chair or on the floor, or by lying down. Let go of whatever you were doing and settle into this moment. Close your eyes and become aware of your breathing. Take 2 or 3 deep breaths, feeling the breath coming into the body, the short pause and the air leaving the body and the short rest, before you need to breathe again. Keep your full attention on your breath throughout this exercise. Once you have completed your deep breaths, allow your breath to return to its natural flow and rhythm. Whenever your attention becomes lost in thought, simply become aware of your thinking and slowly return your attention to your breath. Practise for 1 – 5 minutes or as long as you feel comfortable. Repeat 1 – 3 times per day.
A short version of this exercise, lasting only seconds, can be integrated into everyday life – simply take 2 or 3 conscious breaths at regular intervals throughout the day.
A similar, guided version of this exercise lasting 20 minutes can be accessed via the following link:
This is a great exercise for beginners and can be performed with any type of food. Traditionally, each participant is given 2 or 3 raisins.
Explore each raisin as though you are experiencing it for the first time. Look at it slowly, turning it over in your hand, noticing details you normally wouldn’t – the colours, folds, shapes, size. Feel the weight, texture, temperature and pressure of the raisin in your hand. Smell the raisin, exploring it’s scent. Taste the raisin, paying attention to it’s flavour and the feeling in your mouth as you chew it slowly, moving it around your mouth and eventually the feeling of swallowing it.
Focusing on one object brings your mind into the present and reduces the likelihood of expending energy, attention and time ruminating or worrying about other aspects of your life.
A Simple mindfulness exercise you can try is to simply notice:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
When performing this exercise, imagine you have just come into existence (with no prior knowledge or experience) and are exploring each of your senses for the first time.
You can perform this exercise at any pace. Generally, we’d suggest exploring each item slowly, with curiosity, paying attention to detail. Try to experience sensations directly without labelling or mental commentary.
Begin this exercise by lying comfortably on a bed or on the floor in optimal posture, with or without a pillow. Your arms alongside your body and your palms open towards the ceiling or sky. Alternatively, you can begin in a sitting position on a chair or on the floor in optimal posture.
Take a moment to let go of whatever you were doing and settle into this moment. Bring your attention into each area of your body, feeling whatever sensations (or lack of sensations) are present.
You may feel pleasant, unpleasant or neutral sensations. Feel any pressure, temperature, itching or tingling sensations. Explore slowly, with curiosity and openness to whatever is felt. Move systematically through the body at your own pace and in whatever order you feel most comfortable.
A common approach is to attend to each region in the following order:
- Each of your Toes
- Feet & ankles
- Lower legs
- Buttocks, hips and pelvis
- The whole lower half of your body (as a whole)
- Abdomen & chest
- Lower & upper back
- Shoulders & upper arms
- Forearms and hands
- Each one of your fingers
- Face and head including:
- Mouth, jaw, tongue, lips, eyes & nose
- Cheeks, eyebrows, forehead, ears
- The whole upper half of your body (as a whole)
- You can then become aware of your body as a whole and then move your attention from your head to toes and back again scanning your body and flooding it with attention.
Practise for about 3 – 10 minutes in each session and repeat 1 – 3 times per day. Here is an example of a 30 minute guided Body Scan by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Learn More About Mindfulness
PhysioAdvisor’s mindfulness articles have been created as a progressive series designed to improve your mindfulness practise. We suggest progressively reading through our series to deepen your practise. Mindfulness exercises for beginners is the fifth article in our series.
View the next article in our series:
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