By: Charles Lascano, MD, CAQSM, DABFM.
Sports Medicine Physician. Sanitas Medical Centers.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which one focuses on being intensely aware of what is sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind, and help reduce stress. Mindfulness meditation has been studied in many clinical trials. The overall evidence supports the effectiveness of this meditation for various conditions, including anxiety, stress, depression, pain, sleep problems, and high blood pressure.
Below are mindfulness exercises which you can practice regularly anywhere and anytime but it is recommended to set aside time when you can be in a quiet place without distractions or interruptions.
Exercise #1. Mindful breathing. Sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor and hands over your lap. Breathing through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt your meditation, note the experience, and then return your focus to your breath.
Exercise #2. Body scan meditation. Same position of mindful breathing or lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body, in order, from toes to head or head to toes. Be aware of any sensations, emotions or thoughts associated with each part of your body.
Exercise #3. Walking meditation. Find a quiet place 10 to 20 feet in length and begin to walk slowly. Focus on the experience of walking, being aware of the sensations of standing and the subtle movements that keep your balance. When you reach the end of your path, turn, and continue walking, maintaining awareness of your sensations.
Exercise #4. Mindful eating. Next time you’re eating a meal or snack, slow down and focus all your senses on the experience of eating: what does your food look like, smell like, taste like, feel like as you chew it? Keep your attention on this as you take each bite.
Exercise # 5. Five Senses. This involves tuning your senses to the environment around you, taking a moment to note five things you can see, four things you can feel, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.