Beginning a mindfulness practice can feel like a daunting task, especially considering our packed schedules and impending to-do lists. But starting small with exercises that take less than a minute or so can make practicing mindfulness very doable. Creating “mindfulness minutes” can complement a daily meditation practice that you might already have, or as a standalone practice if you’re still a meditation novice. The more regularly you practice mindfulness exercises, the more mindfulness will become a part of your everyday life.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is essentially paying attention to the here and now, the present moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn in his book “Mindfulness for Beginners” defines it as “awareness, cultivated by paying attention in a sustained and particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
Our attention span is very scattered amidst responsibilities like work, family, friends, and downtime for ourselves. Having conscious mindful moments throughout the day can offer reprieve, combatting stress, and bring a sense of calm into our lives.
When can you practice 1-minute mindfulness exercises throughout the day?
- First waking up in the morning
- Waiting at a traffic light
- Standing in line at the grocery store
- In the carpool line waiting to pick up your children
- Before you sit down to eat a meal
- In the shower
- At work before and/or after a stressful meeting
- Before you get ready for bed
- Or anytime you feel you need to re-group or have a mindful moment to yourself
You may think, how can I meditate in 1 minute? Well, regular practice is more important than the length of your practice. So, you can definitely start with a 1-minute exercise and work your way towards a longer practice that trains your mind, expanding a little bit day-to-day. Below are 5 1-minute mindfulness exercises that you can practice daily.
1. Waking up
The first moments after you open your eyes in the morning are perfect to set the tone for the rest of the day. Mindfulness fits perfectly in this time to help you ground yourself.
- Arrange your body in a comfortable position as you wake.
- Stretch and let your attention scan your body quickly.
- Notice how each part of your body feels, the sensations coursing through.
- Follow several cycles of inhales and exhales for 1 full minute.
2. Just sit
Sometimes we have so much on our minds, we feel extremely overwhelmed and restless. Sitting down can have a grounding effect on us if done with mindfulness.
- Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Don’t stiffen your spine, keep your body relaxed.
- Place your hands in a balanced position, on your knees, and close your eyes.
- Focus on your breathing. Follow each breath in and each breath out.
- After 1 minute or longer if you wish, slowly open your eyes and get back to your day.
3. Yawn and stretch for 10 seconds every hour
- Do a fake yawn if you must, this will trigger a real one.
- Say “aahh” as you exhale. Notice how your yawn will interrupt your thoughts and feelings, bringing you to the present moment.
- Then stretch really slowly, for at least 10 seconds. Notice, without judgment, any tightness in your body and say “ease” out loud.
- Take another 20 seconds to notice the sensations in your body before resuming your activities.
4. Mindful breathing for one minute
- Lower your eyes and notice where you feel your breath.
- It could be the air through your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest or stomach.
- Place your hand on your stomach or your chest to feel your breath rise and fall.
- Keep focusing on your breath. When your mind wanders, which it will just bring it back to your breath.
- Do this for a minute or more to give yourself some time to pause and become aware of the present moment.
5. Walking meditation
Walking meditation can be practiced anytime, anywhere. As you walk from the kitchen to the living room, as you walk to work, or from your home to your car or the bus stop.
- As you begin walking, pay attention to each step and the rhythm of your gait.
- Notice how many steps you take during each inhale and exhale, and the speed at which you’re walking. Notice how your lungs compress and expand but don’t force your breathing or steps.
- Slowly, match your steps to your breath. As you breathe in, count the steps you’re taking and as you breathe out, take the same number of steps.
- Thich Nhat Hanh suggests saying the phrase: “With each step, a gentle wind blows,” as you walk with mindfulness.
A 1-minute mindfulness exercise is a perfect opportunity to pause and reset your mind and body. It can be a start to a wonderful mindfulness meditation practice. Affirmations are also a good starting place to practice mindfulness. You might want to consider this video below.