6 Mindfulness Experts Share Their Best Easy Mindfulness Exercises That Anyone Can Do

With so many styles of mindfulness and meditation out there, it can be hard to choose the right one!

That's why we went out and asked leading mindfulness experts to share their "best at-home mindfulness exercises--that anyone can do! Here's what they had to say...

Alyssa Prete
LPC, LMHC at Knot & Clover

​About Alyssa Prete, LPC, LMHC:

My name is Alyssa Prete and I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in NY and a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in CT. I am also a teacher-in-training for Koru Mindfulness, which is the only evidence-based mindfulness and meditation curriculum for emerging adults (18-29), but can be used with all ages. Koru participants report feeling calmer, more rested, have greater self-compassion, and improved mindfulness.

I teach my clients mindfulness and meditation techniques in individual therapy and I run Koru groups. My private practice is called Knot +Clover. I myself have my own meditation practice and I have completed meditation trainings at Omega Institute, Wainwright House, and Koru.

Recommended Mindfulness Exercises:

-Sit comfortably in an upright but relaxed posture. Either close your eyes or gaze softly in front of you.

-Breathe normally, don’t try and control your breathing.

-Because the mind wanders, it can be helpful to have a mantra. I like to say in my head “in” on the inhale, then “out” on the exhale. You can say anything that helps you focus on the breath and that will bring you back to the breath when your attention shifts, which it will and is completely normal!

-When your attention drifts, gently bring it back to the breath and recite “in” and “out” in your mind while breathing normally.

-You can continue for as long as feels comfortable for you. Some people like to set a timer for a certain amount of time, like 10-20 minutes. If you’re just starting out, start at 5-10 minutes and gradually increase time from there.

-Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up when your attention moves from the breath to other thoughts, like your to-do list. The whole practice is noticing that your attention has drifted away and bringing yourself back to the breath.

-You can notice your thoughts but don't create stories around them. Imagine that you are watching your thoughts float down a river, they are just passing you by while you focus on your breath.

Susan & Danny Siegenthaler
Founders at urrajong Natural Medicine Centre

About Susan & Danny Siegenthaler:

Danny Siegenthaler is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine with over three decades of experience in private practice. He graduated in 1985 after completing his internship at the Hangzhou Red Cross hospital, Hangzhou, China.

Danny also has a Bachelor of Science with honors and a master’s in traditional Chinese medicine.

Susan O’Neill-Siegenthaler is a traditional naturopath, medical herbalist, yoga therapist and medical aromatherapist with over four decades of experience in private practice and teaching.

Susan has also completed a Bachelor of Science degree with honors and is the author of several textbooks on physical therapies.

Susan and Danny have jointly run multi-disciplinary clinics, offering their patients a broad spectrum of therapies and integrated treatment strategies, and are the authors of "It’s Your Life: a simple guide on the journey to achieving better health, happiness and peace of mind".

Recommended Mindfulness Exercises:

1) OPEN-EYE MEDITATION

In this type of meditation, the eyes are kept open. Some people find this style of meditating to be more comfortable and enjoyable. As an added bonus, it is also a good exercise for the eyes!

You can use a candle flame for this meditation.

Sit comfortably, with your back straight but not stiff, and place your lighted candle at eye level directly in front of you. Ensure that you do not have to turn your body or your head to gaze at the candle.

Bring your attention to your breathing and begin to breathe naturally in and out through the nose, breathing in slowly and out slowly and allowing a feeling of relaxation to develop.

Gaze at the tip of the candle flame and hold that gaze for as long as possible.You may notice that you can see two flames. That is okay; keep gazing until the image returns to one flame. You may blink a few times, but try not to blink too much. After three minutes, or when your eyes begin to water (whichever occurs first), close your eyes and imagine the candle flame in the center of yourforehead between your eyebrows. Hold this image for one minute, then resume the candle gazing. Repeat this three times.

The last time you close your eyes, leave them closed and focus on your breathing again for a minute or two. Then open your eyes.

2) MOVING MEDITATION – MINDFUL WALKING

In this meditation, we allow the body to move and use the rhythm of the movement to calm and focus the mind. If possible, this exercise should be done barefoot. Otherwise, wear soft, comfortable shoes.

Begin by standing with your feet slightly apart and your eyes open. Clasp your hands behind your back. Feel the earth beneath your feet and connect with that sensation.

Step first with the right foot, focusing on placing the weight on the heel,then on the side of the foot to the little toe, then on to the big toe, and push off with the ball of the foot. Repeat on the left foot. At this stage you are walking slowly and deliberately, focusing on slow and precise movements.

Then take your attention to your breath, breathing in on the heel-strike phase and out on the push-off phase of the step.

Notice how your body moves to maintain balance as you walk.

Continue to walk for five to ten minutes, while synchronizing your breathing with your steps. Keep your movements slow and deliberate.

When you finish, come back to standing with your feet slightly apart and note how you feel.

3) BLUE-SKY MEDITATION

This is a seated meditation that teaches us to still the mind and ignore the thoughts and feelings that move through it. We begin by imagining the mind as a clear and sunny blue sky. Any thoughts or feelings that arise we see as clouds passing across the sky. The clouds may be heavy and dark or light and wispy – it doesn’t matter. Just let the clouds pass across the mind and disappear without focusing on them.

Ideally, this meditation should take ten to fifteen minutes, but you can start off with five to ten minutes and increase the time as you become more practiced.

Sit comfortably and close your eyes.

Begin to breathe. As you breathe in, hear the sound “so”. As you breathe out, hear the sound “hum”. Focus on these breath sounds for a minute or two as you breathe slowly and naturally.

Then, in your mind’s eye, take your concentration to the point between your eyebrows. Imagine a bright golden light there, like a bright candle flame.

Continue to focus on this image. If thoughts or feelings arise that distract you, let them pass by like clouds across the sky and return your focus to the golden light between your eyebrows.

When you are ready to finish your meditation, rub your palms together and then gently massage your eyes and open them.

Note how you feel.

These simple meditations have great benefits when practiced regularly

Justine Mastin
MA, LMFT, LADC, E-RYT 200 YogaQuest & Blue Box Counseling

About Justine Mastin:

I am both a psychotherapist and yoga teacher so I use mindfulness and meditation in my work with both clients and students. I believe mindfulness to be one of the most important skills that any person can learn to help them stay present and therefore deal with the stresses of daily life.

Recommended Mindfulness Exercises:

The first mindfulness exercise that I teach to my clients is a grounding exercise which I have nicknamed Embody"mint."

While you can do this exercise using any materials, I've found that in order to achieve the same results no matter where you are, it can be helpful to use a wrapped mint (hence the nickname) or other wrapped hard candy or gum. 

These are inconspicuous items that anyone can have on hand. This grounding meditation uses the five senses: sound, sight, touch, smell, and taste to calm anxious thoughts and to bring you back to the present moment.. 

I would recommend practicing this slowly when you are feeling calm, so that you feel skilled to use it when you are feeling more anxious. To begin, take out your wrapped treat. You might notice that the wrapper makes a crinkling sound; pay attention to it. Notice the sound.

Next, look at your wrapped treat. Notice what the item looks like; either peeking at the treat through a clear wrapper, or noticing the wrapper itself. Next, notice the feel of the treat, either through the wrapper, or open the wrapper to feel the treat itself. Next smell the treat, noticing the scent--is it minty? Fruity? Cinnamony?

And lastly place the treat in your mouth and truly taste it. Once you’ve heard, seen, touched, smelled and tasted your treat, pause for a moment and notice whether you feel more present in the moment and in your own body.

Dr. Christopher Willard
Psyd

About Dr. Christopher Willard (Psy.D.):

I've been practicing mindfulness and meditation for more than 20 years, and working as a psychologist integrating mindfulness into therapy for the past fifteen or so, with a few books on the topic.

I also have lead workshops around the world for therapists, teachers, doctors and others. ​

Recommended Mindfulness Exercises:

My favorite practice is "Surfing the Soundscape".

Begin with your body in a comfortable position, sitting, standing or laying down. You can allow your eyes to close if it feels comfortable for you.

Now gently begin by bringing your awareness to sounds... perhaps at first sounds from in front of you... then behind you... from the right... and the left... maybe even noticing sounds above... and below... If you find your mind wandering, just bringing it back to sounds around you...

Now shift your attention once more as if you are zooming out, noticing the farthest away sound or sounds you can hear, even outside the building... Then coming closer, noticing inside the building where you are... now aware of sounds inside the room... sounds nearby, including the sound of your own breath and body... noticing now sounds inside your body, your stomach or heartbeat... then noticing thoughts... do those have a sound...?

Take a few more moments to notice sounds inside and outside of you... even the spaces between sounds for the next few minutes, before you allow your eyes to raise and bring a similar awareness to the rest of your senses as you continue your day.

jill sylvester
holistic LMHC

About Jill Sylvester:

I am a licensed mental health counselor with a holistic bent in private practice seeing adults, children and adolescents. Mindfulness and Meditation are part of my practice personally and professionally.

Recommended Mindfulness Exercises:

Sit quietly in your favorite chair or on the floor.

Take a deep breath in through the nose, breathing in strength and energy, hold it for seven seconds and then release out stress, worry, fear and anxiety.

Breathe in again, slowly, deeply, focusing on strength and energy entering your body to refuel and heal yourself, hold for seven seconds and the breathe out purposefully stress, worry, fear and anxiety that no longer belongs in your body.

Again, breathe in deeply through the nose, intending that positive energy to do what it needs to do to help give you perfect health, hold it and imagine it swirling it in and around every cell in your body, and then breathe out what no longer belongs, visualizing gray, car exhaust-like fumes leaving your body on the exhale.

Then sit still in that quiet space and look to your left, right, up and down, focusing on the details of your space, things you see every day, things you forget to look at, things you take for granted, things you see in a different light, when you are sitting in this space.

For just a minute or two, sit in stillness, taking in your surroundings.

Then, note something you are grateful for, quietly in your mind.

Sit for another few seconds focused on that gratitude, and then slowly, get up and go about the rest of your day.

Erin Easton
New Leaf Mindfulness Coaching

About Erin Easton:

I have been a high school French and Spanish teacher for 12 years and just recently began teaching Brain Science and Mindfulness classes while embarking on an adventure to become a mindfulness coach. I did my master's research on the use of meditation and mindfulness in language acquisition and have done several teacher trainings along with many mindful retreats. 

Recommended Mindfulness Exercises:

I recently taught this meditation in a group session with individuals going through chemo therapy. It is meant to move our processing from the mind to the heart. Often times we get stuck in our heads and although very useful for problem solving, planning, and learning, the mind has a hard time getting in touch with the deeper meaning of life including the hard questions like "why is this happening to me?" When we let our heart take over, we are better able to handle the more difficult experiences that our mind has a hard time explaining or solving. 

The following are the steps on how to practice the meditation. It usually takes me about 25 minutes to walk someone through it.

1. Find a quiet place where you feel safe and comfortable.

2. Find a posture that feels best for you. It may be sitting on the floor or on a chair, or lying down.

3. Turn all of your awareness to your breath and allow the rhythm and consistency to slow your mind as you detach from any thoughts or preoccupations.

4. Observe as the space in your mind gets more expansive and open.

5. We are first going to observe our perception of the world through our head space. Know that you are not judging how your mind processes you are simply becoming aware of how it functions. Fully engage with your head space. You can place all of your awareness behind the eyes and in the forehead. While fully engaged with this area process the following questions.

What are my priorities? What feelings does it bring up when I am pursuing my priorities? What does it feel like in my body?

What do I value most? What feelings does it bring up when I am pursuing what I value? What does it feel like in my body?

What do I have to offer the world? What feelings does it bring up when I am offering this? What does it feel like in my body?

6. Now, we are going to change the center of our processing to our heart space. You can thank the head space and acknowledge its contributions while kindly asking it to go quiet. 

As your focus goes to your heart you may feel a change in your energy. You may feel more heat in your core. You may feel an expanding in the chest and shoulders. You may feel lighter. You are going to go through the same set of questions answering from the heart.

What are my priorities? What feelings does it bring up when I am pursuing my priorities? What does it feel like in my body?

What do I value most? What feelings does it bring up when I am pursuing what I value? What does it feel like in my body?

What do I have to offer the world? What feelings does it bring up when I am offering this? What does it feel like in my body?

7. Notice how your perception of your current situation changes when the heart is the one guiding. Sit in this sensation. 

8. As you come out of the meditation, try to maintain the energy created by your heart space. Know that you can always access it by changing your focus.

My students really appreciate this meditation.

They say that it helps them to approach their struggles from a healthier place. The heart space prioritizes connection and growth and accepts suffering more gracefully. Instead of trying to achieve and solve we appreciate and embrace. Finding a balance between the two is key.

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