Mindfulness is one of the most useful tools for achieving emotional balance and improving people’s concentration and well-being. Its effectiveness has been scientifically proven, and there is increasing evidence that its use contributes to regulating emotions, reducing stress and anxiety, helping people to sleep better and encouraging creativity. In addition, Mindfulness is also enriching for those people who are totally healthy and without psychological disorders, and who simply want to live their lives more fully.
This ancient practice allows us to be in the present moment. It is a style of coping that boosts personal strengths and helps to be more aware of immediate experience with a non-judgmental attitude of openness and acceptance. Full attention helps to self-regulate behaviour and promotes self-knowledge, as well as creating an environment conducive to well-being.
Mindfulness activities for greater emotional balance
But more than a set of techniques to be in the present moment, Mindfulness is a philosophy of life, an attitude to be adopted to reconnect with oneself and be more aware of the reality that surrounds us. It requires practice and will, which is why it is necessary to carry out a series of activities to improve the ability to be in the here and now with a non-judgmental and compassionate mentality.
There are many exercises for this purpose. Below you can find a series of Mindfulness activities for children and for adults .
Activities for children
Children can also be initiated into the practice of full care. In this way, they develop this habit that will help them to know themselves better and relate better to their surroundings, so that they can be happier in the future.
1. Bee breathing
Bee breathing, or Bhramari Pranayama , is a simple but very effective exercise to focus attention on the breath and to free the mind from agitation, frustration, anxiety and to get rid of anger. Since its practice is not very complex, it can be done anywhere and even at early ages. It consists of covering your ears, closing your eyes, and when we exhale the air it is necessary to pronounce the letter “m” until the end of the breath.
It is certainly an easy exercise to practice, although you need to learn diaphragmatic breathing to be able to exhale for longer. The exercise can be done as many times as you wish, but it is advisable to start with a few repetitions and increase them progressively. The sound resulting from this action is similar to the buzzing of a bee, which is why this activity is called “Bee Breathing”.
2. The art of touching
To perform this exercise it is necessary to place the children in pairs. One of them is given an object (a pen, a toy, a stone, a ball, etc.), and is asked to close his or her eyes. The child who has the object describes it to his or her partner.
After one or two minutes the same process is carried out, but this time it is the other partner who is in charge of describing the object. In spite of the simplicity of this activity, it is ideal for teaching children that they can isolate their senses and, if they wish, they can focus their attention to live different experiences .
3. Attention to the bell
This exercise has two parts. The first part consists of ringing a bell and asking the children to listen to the vibration of the sound of the bell. Children should listen carefully and raise their hand when they no longer hear the sound vibration. Then, they should remain silent for one minute and pay attention to the other sounds that are heard once the sound of the bell has stopped.
When the sound ends, children should be encouraged to share their experiences and say what they heard during this period of time. This activity works on attention and mindfulness, and helps to connect with the here and now .
4. Become a frog
Children can learn to practice Mindfulness by turning themselves into a frog for a few minutes. Frogs are a clear example of what Mindfulness is. Just like when people meditate, frogs stay still for a long period of time. They rarely become agitated, but stand still, watching and breathing calmly, and their belly moves sharply with each inhalation and exhalation. By adopting the role of this amphibian, the children learn to remain still, to breathe in a controlled way and to observe what is happening around them without becoming agitated.
…and for adults
Adults can practice Mindfulness in their daily lives virtually anywhere, and any time is good for focusing on the present moment, adopting a non-judgmental mindset and treating each other with compassion.
5. Exercise of the five senses
This exercise is simple and can be applied quickly in almost any situation . All that is needed is to be aware of our senses and to experience each of them separately. To do this activity, just follow this order:
- Look at five things you can see . Look around you and choose something you would not normally notice, such as a shadow or a small crack in the ground.
- Observe four things you can feel . Become aware of four things you are feeling in the present moment, such as the texture of your pants, the feeling of the breeze on your skin, or the smooth surface of the table where you are resting your hands.
- Observe three things you can hear and focus on the sounds around you. For example, a bird, the noise of the refrigerator, or the sound of traffic on a nearby road.
- Notice two things you can smell . Pay attention to the smells that you are usually not aware of and observe whether they are pleasant or unpleasant. The smell of the nearby pines, of the beach if you live on the coast or of a fast food restaurant near your house.
- Observe the taste in your mouth . Focus on the taste of the present moment. You can take a sip of a drink you have on hand, chew gum, eat something and even taste your mouth without ingesting anything.
This is an easy exercise to practice, which can quickly lead you to the here and now. The time you spend with each sense is up to you, but each object of attention should last one or two minutes. The idea is not to do a meditation, but to return to the present with an improved state of consciousness .
6. Active listening: observe non-verbal language
This activity is ideal for developing active listening skills, which is a form of communication that requires an effort on the part of our cognitive and empathic abilities , where the receiver is not merely a receiver of the sender’s words. Many times we think we are listening when in fact we are hearing.
Active listening is not hearing the other person, but being totally focused on the message the other individual is trying to communicate. It is being in the here and now with full awareness. We not only focus on the words of the sender, but also on what he or she is trying to convey through non-verbal language.
To perform this exercise it is necessary to pair up . One of the members has two minutes to explain an enjoyable experience of his life or an opinion on a recent event, while the other listens actively. What do his looks, his posture or his gestures say? Does he seem proud when he tells it? Does he transmit passion? The receiver has two minutes to carefully observe the non-verbal communication of his or her partner. After finishing the exercise, both tell their experience as active listeners.
7. Mindfulness feeding
With the pace of life we have today, it is common that we do not stop for a moment to connect with ourselves, even when we have a few minutes to eat, because we either turn on the TV or we are thinking about what we have to do this very afternoon. Well, it is possible to practice Mindfulness while eating or having breakfast. To do the conscious eating exercise , you simply have to pay full attention to what you are going to eat.
You can start by focusing on what you’re holding. Notice the feeling of what you are holding (for example, a piece of toast or a fork). Once you are aware of the texture, weight, color, etc., focus your attention on the smell. Finally, take the food to your mouth, but do it slowly and with full awareness . Notice the taste or texture as it melts in your mouth. This activity can help you discover new experiences with foods you frequently eat.
8. Attention to the center of the image
To carry out this activity you need to view the following audiovisual content :
The goal of this exercise is simple: to focus attention on the point displayed in the center of the image despite the changing color pattern around it, which can be distracting or lead to unwanted thoughts. It is an ideal exercise to start practicing mindfulness and to start becoming aware of the thoughts that come to mind and of which we are sometimes not aware.
The purpose of this exercise is not to get lost in these thoughts, which can be very pronounced in people prone to anxiety. This experience is similar to the phenomenon of silent fixation that results from staring at a candle flame.
To learn more about Mindfulness
Everything related to Mindfulness is very interesting because of the potential of this set of simple habits to apply to everyday life, but it is also true that it is not easy to explain what it is as an activity and what are the mechanisms by which our quality of life improves.
Fortunately, several experts in the field have been developing training workshops to make this topic more accessible. The M-PBI Mindfulness Training Program .
In this training program that you can take in various Spanish cities, you work with both the theoretical and practical aspects of this discipline, and you are taught how to apply them in different contexts, starting with the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR) of the Massachusetts Clinic and the Training Program based on Integrated Short Practices (M-PBI) of experts in Mindfulness.