9 Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Exercises
I don’t think any other practice comes close to the effectiveness and simplicity of mindfulness when it is about achieving the serenity of mind, that’s why I keep talking about it in my posts.
That was not a speculative statement, mindfulness has helped me to become an emotionally healthy person by pulling me out of depression. So, I really want you to understand that it is far better than any other technique especially because it’s easy and you can use it anytime, anywhere.
Mindfulness meditation is all about present moment awareness, using some simple methods you bring your attention to the NOW moment.
That may sound something simple, but it is very difficult to make your monkey mind focus on the present, the more aware you will become of your mind activities, the better your emotional state will get.
It’s Not about Control
Initially, people make a huge mistake of believing that one has to control their thoughts in order to stay present.
In fact, one of the major reasons why people fail to make proper use of these techniques is because they try to control their thoughts, there is a very thin line between observing the mind activities and trying to control it.
However, the effects are totally different. Becoming aware of your inner world and observing your mind is an act of patience that is honed by practice, as a result, your mind will become your friend.
But, if you will try to control your mind by fighting with your thoughts it can lead to devastating consequences.
I am alerting you because you must know the exact purpose of these techniques before you begin to put them into use.
What Is MBSR?
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is a program created by Dr. John Kabat-Zinn for relieving people from stress and mind related problems using natural methods.
This program which is a combination of breathing exercises, mindfulness meditation and yoga has proved out to be extremely helpful to the people troubled by emotional pain.
Many institutions are now conducting MBSR training, however, here I will be providing a few exercises based on mindfulness, which you will be able to practice on your own.
Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Exercises
#1 Embrace the Pain
Obviously, I am talking about the mental anguish here. Your distress is sustained by your avoidance.
Mindfulness teaches you to confront the emotions that are making noises in your head, this is how you will be able to get rid of them.
For this, you will have to make use of the time when the negative feelings and thoughts starts to overwhelm you. Take a few deep breaths and observe all these inner activities without getting involved in it.
Detach yourself like if you are watching a movie, just allow the mind to do what it wants.
Your intense alertness will naturally calm down your mind and with time, such thoughts will stop annoying you.
#2 Conscious Breaths
Your breathing patterns are related to your mind states and by reversing this process, you can achieve the desired emotional state, this is why mindfulness practices include breathing exercises.
Conscious breaths are one of the simplest tools to bring your attention to the present moment.
Take small breaks during your whole day to breathe consciously and relax your mind. Just notice your breath flowing from your nostrils to the lungs and vice versa. Repeat this a few times till you feel refreshed. You can use this as a trick to refresh your mind whenever you feel stressed.
One of the best forms of mindfulness breathing is insight meditation which is also known as vipassana meditation.
#3 Focusing on an External Object
Mindfulness meditation mainly uses one’s sense perceptions as an instrument to make them more present.
We are often looking at things without actually “seeing” them, this is why people bump into things despite of their eyes being wide open.
Hence, you can bring your mind into the NOW moment by actively observing the stuff at which you are looking. Observe the object meticulously and take note of its various visual properties.
An advanced version of this exercise is Tratak Meditation where a person fixes their gaze on an object and uses it as a tool to enhance their alertness.
#4 Sensations in Your Body
Sometimes subtle and sometimes discernible, every time you have a thought, your body responds by producing certain sensations.
By becoming more aware you can take notice of how your body is communicating to you, this is an art of listening to your body and that’s a doorway to your intuitive power.
For doing this, just become aware of the sensations you could feel at any moment, contemplate over it for a few moments and learn how various thoughts in your mind has some kind of effect in your body.
At times, when you are too stressed these sensations are very strong, you can observe the reactions in your body during those times much effortlessly, doing this will automatically withdraw your attention from the distressing thoughts and bring it to the NOW moment.
#5 Yogic Sleep
Talking about observing the sensations in the body brings me to this awesome exercise known as the Yogic Sleep or Yog Nidra.
Here a person slowly takes their attention from their head to toe, in doing so they feel and consciously remove any type of tension in the area where they are focusing. This is a very good method to release stress.
You can read more on this topic here: – Practicing Yogic Sleep
#6 Becoming an External Observer
What if I told you that your thoughts are not yours? What if I told you that your worries are not yours? What if I told you that your pain is not yours?
That sounds crazy, but that will make you a happy person isn’t it?
Our thoughts really are not always ours, sometimes they are generated as a result of direct or indirect information received by your mind from the surroundings.
However, my point of discussion here is that, looking at our inner happenings from a different perspective allows us to diminish the effects of negative thoughts.
For doing this, relax your mind with the help of breathing exercises and then imagine you looking at yourself from outside as if you are looking at someone else.
You are also able to see what’s happening in your mind, look at all your pains, problems, worries as if they are not yours.
Observing your inner world this way will help you to detach yourself from your thoughts, you will also realize that some of your problems seem trivial when viewed from this different angle.
#7 Mindful Eating
Food gives you a very good opportunity to focus on the present moment. Usually we eat absentmindedly, we put ourselves on autopilot to eat while our mind wanders.
Many eating disorders like binge eating are born out of people’s lack of attentiveness when they eat.
Mindful eating is about being totally present in the moment when you are having food, this also helps you to enjoy your food much more than before.
By paying more attention to the appearance, smell and taste of the food you will be able to give your busy mind a much needed break from the disturbing or unwanted thoughts.
You can read more on this here: –Building a Good Relationship with Food-Mindfulness Eating Script
#8 Active Listening
Our mind wants us to listen to it always and ignores all other voices. Especially, when a person is stressed, all their attention is taken up by the negative self-talks and unwanted thought patterns.
You may have found yourself in situations when you realize that you didn’t hear a word the other person was saying since you were mentally somewhere else.
Double is the benefit of becoming an active listener, one is that you will be able to bring your attention to the present moment and the other is that you will prove out to be a great friend as people love good listeners.
Just take small breaks every now and then to hear the sounds in your environment, carefully take notice of the near and distant sounds for some time.
When people speak to you, listen to them as if they are about to reveal some big secrets of the universe. While doing this, avoid judging or comparing their words and also don’t form responses before they finish talking.
Sometimes, people don’t need your response they just want you to hear what they are saying so, be kind enough to give them your company by being a mindful listener.
Exercises and body movements have a deep connection with your mind state, so Yoga is one very wise choice for reducing stress in your life.
Unlike the usual workouts that are meant for body fitness, Yoga is something that improves both your physical and mental health.
When you do Yoga, you have to observe your breath and body sensations, that’s why it is helpful in making you more mentally alert than before.
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