Practicing mindfulness is a helpful way to release tension and anxiety. It also works to help you better connect with your surroundings by encouraging you to focus on the small things in life. Besides doing mindfulness exercises by yourself, you can also do them in a group setting.
Below is more behind the art of mindfulness meditation and some mindfulness exercises for groups to try.
- 1 What is Mindfulness?
- 2 The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
- 3 How to Practice Mindfulness
- 4 Mindfulness Exercises for Groups
- 5 Conclusion
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the state of being aware of your surroundings while also learning how to be calm and relaxed in them. This psychological process is designed to help you live in the moment and to stop focusing on the past and worrying about the future.
The Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
Practicing mindfulness comes with many benefits, but it can be a challenge. A daily meditation practice can help lower anxiety, improve sleep, and provide a huge variety of personal rewards. Below are some you’ll find it offers.
It Helps to Calm You
Life, work, and family come with plenty of stress. Most of us struggle with time management, work-life balance, and FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Thankfully, mindfulness helps you to learn how to calm yourself to prevent dwelling on troubles.
Because of this, mindfulness meditation can keep you relaxed. This promotes better well-being and encourages you to live in the moment. We’ve written a guide on meditation for anxiety that is worth reading if you find you’re often stressed out.
It Comes with Health Benefits
You might be surprised to learn that practicing mindfulness comes with a few health benefits. Some of these include lowering your blood pressure, reducing pain, promoting better sleep, and even helping with gastrointestinal issues. For meditation sleep exercises, see here.
We want to stress that the studies around health benefits like blood pressure and pain relief are preliminary, and should be taken with a grain of salt.
It Can Improve Mental Health
Mindfulness is designed to help calm your brain and encourage you to focus on being positive. Due to this, it has been shown to help improve many mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, and OCD.
How to Practice Mindfulness
There are a wide variety of ways you can practice mindfulness. Here are a few common ideas.
Watch Your Breathing
One of the best ways to practice mindfulness is to watch your breathing. By focusing on each breath, it works to help calm you and relax your mind. It can also release tension in your body and prevent anxious thoughts.
While apps are the new hotness when it comes to meditation, they’re generally not the best solution to learn to meditate. This is because the apps introduce technology into the meditation practice, and technology almost always equals distraction! For this reason, we strongly suggest you choose a meditation book instead of a meditation app.
Use Your Senses
Another way to practice mindfulness is to connect with your surroundings with your senses as deeply and intentionally as possible. By smelling, seeing, and touching things, it can help to ground you.
This practice also encourages you to enjoy the little things in life, like the smell of coffee or a slight breeze outside. And it can be quite difficult to keep up for a long period of time!
Eat Healthy Options and Enjoy What You Eat
If you scarf down food that is high in fat and salt, it can make your body feel poorly. Mindfulness when eating encourages you to eat healthier to help your body stay strong and healthy. Because of this, look to add more healthy items to your diet, such as blueberries and yogurt.
In addition to this, it’s important to truly enjoy what you eat. By savoring each bite and taking your time when eating, it can help you to better enjoy and digest your meal. Practicing mindfulness when eating can also prevent you from snacking in between meals.
Again, this can be incredibly difficult for many eaters, but can also help change people’s relationship with food.
Mindfulness Exercises for Groups
The Raisin Exercise
A popular group mindfulness exercise to do is the raisin exercise. Each member of the group gets a raisin and must use their senses to touch, look, and taste this fruit.
To begin, you’ll want to move the raisin around in your fingers to feel its texture. Then, place the raisin in your mouth and let it sit inside for a few seconds without chewing it. You can then chew the raisin slowly tasting each bite. We might do this with a glass of wine, but otherwise, almost never savor our food in such a way. This practice can be a great good exercise, as it’s easy for many to do at once.
While raisins are the most commonly used item, any type of fruit can be used.
Rhythm Listening Group
Another group exercise to try is rhythm listening. This will encourage group members to carefully listen to other members and learn to identify unique sounds. To start, one member needs to make a short rhythm. After they do, another member repeats this rhythm but adds on to it.
This process should continue through the group. You can continue it on in multiple ways.
If you want to turn it into a game, you can: If a member is unable to correctly repeat the rhythm, they are out of the game. This can continue until one member is left.
This group exercise requires participants to sit on a meditation cushion or lie on the floor next to each other. Each member needs to stay still and start focusing on their breathing. After a few minutes, this focus should move on to the texture and feeling of the clothing they are wearing.
Eventually, this “scan” moves down your body so you are more aware of how certain body parts feel, such as your knees, legs, and toes. You can repeat this process for a few minutes moving up and down your body.
Color a Picture
A unique way to practice mindfulness is to color a picture. Coloring has been shown to help improve your focus and concentration which is beneficial when it comes to mindfulness. Group members can each have their own picture or use a large one and color together.
The large artwork can be quite fun, as participants generally don’t get to see the “big picture” until the end.
You could also take a group out into nature for a walk. By doing so, members will not only be able to connect better with nature, but also use their senses. Being outdoors can also reduce stress and improve your breathing. Often a silent walk is the best choice, to help the participants focus on their individual experience. But you can also incorporate talking into the nature walk as well, though try to keep chit chat to a minimum.
Play with Balloons
Mindfulness groups can also play with balloons. For a few minutes, members can work on keeping balloons off of the ground and connecting with their sense of touch when hitting the balloon back up in the air. Besides being fun, playing with balloons can also encourage you to work on your concentration skills.
Describe a Setting
Another exercise is to have each member of the group close their eyes and describe a specific setting. This could be a garden, house, park, or store.
The person describing should focus on telling every detail about the setting, such as what it looks like, how it feels, and what it smells like. The group members not describing a setting should also close their eyes and try to imagine what is being narrated.
Mindfulness is a wonderful way to help promote better physical and mental health. These mindfulness exercises will teach groups to not only learn how to relax, but stay more positive and encouraged throughout their daily life.