Mindfulness Activities

These mindfulness activities are a great way to put mindfulness into practice during your day-to-day life.

Mindfulness Activity #1 -- Doing What You Love to Do

What do you really enjoy doing? Have you ever considered that this could be an excellent mindfulness activity for you?

Doing what we love to do with mindful awareness can be a great place to begin the practice of meditation. The meditation is not the activity, but the quality of attention that we bring to the activity. Any activity of daily life can become a support for mindfulness meditation when it is undertaken with the intention of developing concentration, clarity, compassion, or insight.

  1. Choose an activity you enjoy.
  2. Determine to bring your full mindful attention to it.
  3. Slowly, carefully, and mindfully begin. Stay relaxed and give your wholehearted attention to what you are doing.
  4. Whenever your attention wanders or fades, gently return to being fully aware of what you are doing. If tension arises, relax and smile playfully to yourself.
  5. When the activity or designated time period is over, pause for a few moments to reflect on the new richness you have discovered in this familiar activity.

In fact, everything that we do throughout the day, even the tasks that we do not like, can become a tool for developing Our minds and deepening our concentration.

Mindfulness Activity #2 -- Kitchen Yogi Meditation

The technique that follows was inspired by the insight that all daily life activities can be transformed into meditations, even the most mundane and ordinary ones, such as washing and chopping vegetables. The key to this transformation lies in the art of paying close attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. It is not the activity that determines the quality of mental aliveness, but rather the energy of mindfulness we bring to it. We spend much of our lives doing routine and mechanical chores. Experiment with these guidelines to see how you can transform whatever you are doing into an experience of wakefulness.

  • Begin by grounding yourself. Feel the contact between the soles of your two feet and the floor. Note the feeling of your feet touching the ground and sense how the floor beneath you connects you to the earth.
  • With your knees slightly bent, feel your legs growing down into the earth, your hips, thighs, and legs growing down into the earth.
  • Move your awareness next into your navel at the center of your body.
  • Now allow the upper part of your body to open and become alive. As you exhale allow your shouldersto drop. With each exhalation, let your eyes soften and your jaw be loose and soft.
  • With each exhalation come back to your body. Sense your body posture.
  • Be receptive. Allow the visual sensation of the veg-etable to come to you as you chop with the knife. There is nothing to do but feel the sensation of the knife in your hand.
  • Feel its hardness. Become aware of the sensation of contact, the touch of your hand on the knife. Are you squeezing more than you need to as you chop? Soften your grip.
  • Allow the feeling of the vegetable you are holding to come to you. Note the quality of the sensation.
  • Feet touching the floor.
  • Knees slightly bent.
  • Moving from the center.
  • Be aware of the breath.
  • Eyes soft.
  • Open and receptive.
  • Stay in touch with the flow of sensations.
  • Attend to every moment as if it were your first .. or last.
  • Alert ... relaxed and precise.
  • Mindfully moving from moment to moment.

Mindfulness Activity #3 -- Mindful Eating

Every activity of your life provides an opportunity to strengthen the power of your mindfulness. Since eating is something that you do a number of times each day, mindful eating can give you another tool to polish your awareness and invite more moments of mindful presence into your daily life. Practicing mindfulness of eating can be very revealing. There are many processes going on in the mind and body while we eat. As we bring our attention to the sequence of these processes, deep self-understanding can arise.

For example, the first step in eating is seeing the food. Begin by simply smiling to yourself, and become aware of "seeing." Let that steaming bowl of soup or juicy sandwich become "real" to you. Feel your hunger and notice also the smell of the food you're about to eat.

The next step is intending to reach for it. Become aware of this. The intention drives the body into action to reach for the food. When you're ready, mindfully reach out and make contact with the food. Again, become aware of the process of "reaching or moving." When your hand or fork touches the food, there is the sensation of touching. Be aware of this experience of touching. Feel the sensations as you touch the apple or sandwich. Next, raise your arm, lifting the food into your mouth. Be mindful of the experience of lifting it to your mouth and of your mouth opening. As you put the food into your mouth, be mindful of the touch of the food on your tongue and the burst of taste lighting up your mouth.

Carefully notice each phase of the process. As the food comes toward your mouth, notice opening the mouth, put¬ting the food in, lowering the arm, feeling the texture of the food in the mouth, chewing and tasting. Mindfully chew your food and feel the blending of textures and tastes dancing around your mouth. Be particularly mindful of the experience of tasting. Notice how, as you chew, the taste disappears.

Then, when you're ready, be mindful of swallowing. If you have time, pause for a mindful breath or two before going on to the next mouthful. Notice the sensations of hunger as well as any feelings of compulsiveness that might drive you to shovel in another mouthful even before you've finished the first one. Take control of these raging forces that often unconsciously control your life. Watch how desire for more arises, leading to the intention to reach for another bite. Then again be mindful of seeing, smelling, intending, reaching, touching, lifting, opening, tasting, chewing, swallowing, and enjoying.

Experience how one phase seems to mechanically lead to the next as though there is really no one eating, only a sequence of related events unfolding: intention, movement, touch sensations, tastes, etc. Mindful eating can reveal how what we are is just a sequence of happenings, a process and flow of life-energy.

It can also mirror to us many of our compulsive attitudes toward consuming the universe or receiving nourishment through all of our senses. As we learn to step back and notice the process as well as the content of our activities, we can begin to recognize and transform many old, limiting patterns and choose new and more creative options for how to live our lives.

You may be surprised by how much you can learn about yourself by eating a meal mindfully now and then. Since hunger is controlled by the hypothalamus, the small master organ in the core brain or limbic system, the same part of your brain that regulates stress response, emotions, and sexuality, practicing mindful eating may also provide you with some very interesting insights into other areas of your life as well.

[Adapted from the book "Luminous Mind" by Joel & Michelle Levey]

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