Updated: May 29
I like to think of mindfulness as a gentle slowing down in the moment. It’s bringing awareness and curiosity to our thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, and felt sense right here, right now. And while we may think of mindfulness only in the context of sitting and meditating, there can be so many other fun ways to fully take a moment and connect to ourselves. Let’s explore those, shall we?
Mindfulness in motion
Photo by Mohammad Kashkooli: https://www.pexels.com/photo/redhead-girl-walking-on-a-grass-field-15568503/
It’s not always easy to sit still, which is why I love mindfulness exercises that pair body movement with intentional breath. Walking meditation is one simple way to connect to all of your senses, take deep intentional breaths, and allow the motion of walking to become your focus.
How to practice walking meditation
First, make sure to wear comfy clothes and shoes. Next, pick a place to walk that brings you joy. It can be anywhere: your favorite park, beach, hiking trail, or even right on your very own block. Now that you’re comfy and in your favorite place:
(Here's the audio version if you prefer to listen instead of reading).
Feel both feet on the ground. Notice how the earth supports your weight. The way your feet feel inside of your shoes.
Allow your arms to drop gently to your sides.
Close your eyes and take a deep, slow, breath in. Notice how your chest expands. How your breath feels as it enters your lungs. You may even notice the way the air smells as you breathe in.
And when you’re ready exhale very slowly. Notice how your chest and belly contract as you release your breath.
Allow the sounds around you to become part of your awareness.
Using this same focus, notice the temperature outside. The way your skin feels.
And when you’re ready, open your eyes.
Allow your eyes to focus ahead of you and begin to walk slowly. You don’t have to stare at your feet, they’re experts at this walking thing.
But as you walk, notice the sensation of each foot making contact with the ground. Notice the heel-to-toe rhythm as you go.
Notice if thoughts start to arise. When they do come back to paying attention to your breath and to your body in this moment as you walk. Continue to do this throughout your walking meditation.
When you’re ready to stop, go ahead and stand still for a moment. Take a deep breath in just like you did in the beginning.
Color Me Calm
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán: https://www.pexels.com/photo/color-pencil-set-194098/
Did you know that coloring isn’t just for little kids? Lots of middle graders, teens, and adults like to color. Not only is it relaxing, but it’s also a great way to slow down while still practicing movement and mindful breathing. So, the next time you have your favorite coloring book here are a few mindful coloring tips:
As you color, see if you can pair your coloring stroke with your breath. For example, as your hand moves up, take a deep breath in. As you move your hand down, exhale slowly.
While holding your crayon or marker see if you can focus on the way it feels in your hand. Notice if your hand feels tense or calm and any other sensations like temperature.
If thoughts or emotions arise while you’re coloring, that’s ok. Just notice them and come back to your breath.
Photo by Julia Sakelli: https://www.pexels.com/photo/teacup-with-tea-905485/
Besides walking, coloring, and sitting meditation, there’s also the practice of mindful eating. And if you’ve ever sat with a cup of hot chocolate or tea in your hands you may already be practicing this! But just in case, let’s go over the steps:
Hold the cup and just notice the sensation of the heat on your hands.
Notice the way the cup looks. What colors does it have? Is it shiny? Is it soft to hold?Does it have rounded edges?
Feel the way the steam from the cup touches your nose as you breathe in the aroma.
Slowly take a sip. What does the beverage taste like? Can you identify the flavors? Is it sweet?
Take your time. And if thoughts arise or your mind gets busy keep coming back to noticing the sensations of the drink in your hands, of the way it smells and feels as you sip it. In the way, the tea itself is the meditation.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska: https://www.pexels.com/photo/curly-haired-woman-eating-green-grapes-on-white-background-7680328/
And you don’t have to stop there. You can use any food as part of your mindfulness eating practice. Some kids love practicing with grapes. And who can blame them? They’re delicious. But besides that, eating one grape a time is a simple way to slow down and fully experience the texture and taste. Things you may explore while eating a grape:
· What color is the grape?
· When you hold the grape is it cold or warm to the touch?
· What shape is it?
· Is it crunchy?
· When you take a bite do any thoughts or emotions arise?
Of course, there are so many other ways to practice mindfulness throughout your day. But the most important thing is to have fun with it and start slowly. Even just five minutes can work wonders. And if you have questions, I’m only an email away.