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What comes to mind when you think of mindfulness? Maybe a monk sitting on a cushion in some far-off, exotic land with not a care in the world? If you’ve heard of mindfulness, you might have written it off because you’re far from the monk-type. Turns out, there are actually a lot of different kinds of mindfulness exercises for all different personalities and styles.

So what is mindfulness anyway? Mindfulness is all about focusing on being in the moment purposefully, and keeping judgement out of the picture.  With our lives pulling us every which way, it can be difficult to focus on what’s going on right in front of you.

Mindfulness has a lot of positive benefits, including stress reduction and enhanced well-being.  A lot of the time, stress can result in amplified feelings of depression and anxiety. Mindfulness reminds you to be aware of what’s going on in the present instead of ruminating on the past or worrying about the future. It’s a great tool to have in your mental health toolbox.

So before you write-off mindfulness completely, check out a few of these exercises and see if any are a good fit for you! Your mental health will thank you!

 

Exercise #1: Breathing Meditation

Who Might Like It: A constantly on-the-go person with barely enough time to catch their breath

What It’s Like: We’re constantly taking shallow breaths or holding our breath when we’re stressed and we don’t even know it. Breathing meditations are all about learning how your breath affects different parts of your body. You can experience truly how calming a single deep breath can be in any stressful situation.

Try It Here: A Healing Breath by Tara Brach

Exercise #2: Eating Meditation

Who Might Like It: A foodie who wants to take eating to a whole new level

What It’s Like: How often do you engage all of your senses when eating? How often do you scarf down a meal without having really tasted your food? This meditation can help you experience eating a single piece of food in a whole new way.

Try It Here: Eating Meditation

Exercise #3: Walking Meditation

Who Might Like It: The fitness fiend who’s aware of how their body works and loves activity

What It’s Like: Sometimes when you’re stressed, all you can do is put one foot in front of the other. Try a mindful walking meditation and you might get a little more pep in your step.

Try It Here: Walking Meditation by Tara Brach

Exercise #4: Loving Kindness

Who Might Like It: An individual who’s looking for more positivity and connection in their life

What It’s Like: It can be tough to remember to send good vibes to everyone around you, and to include yourself in the mix! This exercise will remind you that you’re just as awesome and deserving of your love and kindness as the rest of the people in your life.

Try It Here: Loving Kindness Meditation by Tara Brach

Exercise #5: Body Scan

Who Might Like It: Anyone that holds stress in their body

What It’s Like: The physical effects of stress can be enough to run our bodies down.  Practicing a body scan can bring your awareness to what parts of the body are being affected and bring a little extra care and attention to them.

Try It Here: The Center of Now by Tara Brach

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Books:

Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation by Daniel Siegel

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes A Day by Andy Puddicombe

Apps:

The Mindfulness App (Apple | Android)

Headspace (Apple | Android)

 

If you’re looking to learn more about mindfulness all around, check out mindful.org!

Thank you to Tara Brach for giving us permission to link to her guided meditations. Check out more of her resources and meditations at her website!

 

This blog contribution was made by our intern Rachel Cutts who is a graduate student of social work at Loyola University Chicago.

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