by Dr. Liza Auciello
Mindfulness sets the foundation for emotional agility, and for building a body and mind that supports the achievement of your goals. The benefits of mindfulness are immense. Mindfulness:
- Increases the gray matter in areas of the brain that regulate emotion, sensory processing, memory and attention.
- Enhances self-awareness, as it deepens our understanding of our thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and responses.
- Improves self-influence through emotional regulation and increased body awareness.
- Regulates the body’s stress response and lowers stress levels.
- Creates a self-directed mind, as it increases focus and the ability to control attention.
Similar to developing strong muscles through physical exercise, expanding our ability to be fully present requires regular practice to achieve the benefits.
Fun Five-Minute Mindfulness Exercises
- Choose an object as an anchor, like a rock, a piece of art or a blanket. Set a timer and explore the anchor with your senses. What colors and shapes do you notice? What is the texture like? Does the anchor feel heavy or light? Is it thin or thick? Does it make a sound when you bring it up to your ear? Does it have a smell? What’s happening in your body as you explore this anchor?
- Use sound as an anchor. Play with a singing bowl (or other object that makes a sound like a chime, drum or guitar). Strike the bowl and listen until you can no longer hear the sound. Repeat.
- Another way to use sound as an anchor is to simply notice the sound of your breath then expand your awareness to the sounds inside your body. You may notice digestive noises or the sound of your heartbeat. Allow your awareness to then expand to the noises in your room and then notice what you hear outside. What is the farthest sound you can hear?
- If you have a pet, use their breath as an anchor. Bring your awareness to the sound of their breath. Is it loud or quiet, rhythmic or irregular? Place your hand near their nostrils and notice their breath on your hand. Does it feel warm or cold? Does it create a light breeze or a heavy gust? As you look at their nose, what happens to their nostrils as they breathe in and out? Shift your focus to their belly. Notice their belly expanding as they breathe in and contracting as they breathe out. Place your hand on their belly and allow your awareness to tune in to the feeling of their breath in your hand. Does their belly feel harder as it expands? Does the hair in your palm move? Is the hair soft, prickly or smooth? What happens when your animal releases their breath? What do you notice in your fingertips, your palm or your arm? For a moment, can you sync your breath with your animal’s breath? Breathe in with them. And breathe out with them.
Share this article on your social media so that as many people as possible can benefit from this simple 5-minute routine.