Best Mindfulness Exercises

There are many to choose, but it is possible that the best mindfulness exercises are those that are simple and accessible to all and that can still really help us to live in the moment. Mindfulness does not just happen though – just as with most things that are worth doing, Mindfulness has to be worked at, and practiced regularly, to be of most benefit to us.

One of the best mindfulness exercises is the Mindful Pause. This is so simple, but very effective and only has two steps:

Firstly we pause and feel our in-breath and out-breath for 10-15 seconds
Then we finish with asking our self: ‘Which of my character strengths should I bring forward right now?’
Mindfulness quote
‘If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything’ – Thigh Nat Hahn

This exercise is so effective because it is very short, doesn’t take much time out of our daily schedule and easily integrates into whatever we are doing – whether just waking up, eating lunch, sending an email or driving home from work etc. It brings us into the moment and makes us think about our best strengths, preparing us to be our best self and allows us to bring our strengths to the moment. This then enables us to be ready for those challenging moments, helps us to more easily handle stress and to give our strengths more freely.

The 24 character strengths are defined as:

Creativity – originality, ingenuity and adaptability
Curiosity – interest, novelty-seeking, exploration, openness
Judgment – critical thinking, thinking things through, open-mindedness
Love of Learning – mastering new skills & topics, systematically adding to knowledge
Perspective – wisdom, providing wise counsel, taking the big picture view
Bravery – valor, not shrinking from fear, speaking up for what’s right
Perseverance – persistence, industry, finishing what we’ve started
Honesty – authenticity, integrity
Zest – vitality, enthusiasm, vigor, energy, feeling alive
Love – both loving and being loved, valuing close relations with others
Kindness – generosity, furtherance, care & compassion, altruism, ‘niceness’
Social Intelligence – aware of the motives/feelings of self/others, knowing what makes others tick character strengths
Teamwork – citizenship, social responsibility, loyalty
Fairness – just, not letting feelings bias decisions about others
Leadership – organizing group activities, encouraging a group to get things done
Forgiveness – mercy, accepting others’ shortcomings, giving people a second chance
Humility – modesty, letting our accomplishments speak for themselves
Prudence – careful, cautious, not taking undue risks
Self-regulation – self-control, disciplined, managing impulses & emotions
Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence – awe, wonder, elevation
Gratitude – thankful for the good, expressing thanks, feeling blessed
Hope – optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation
Humor – playfulness, bringing smiles to others, light-heated
Spirituality – religiousness, faith, purpose, meaning
These strengths can be turned to anytime when we pause, refocus and gain clarity on what is important in that moment. The Mindful Pause can be very useful in the transitional period between work and the start of home-time. For example, when the character strength Love emerges after a pause, we will then immediately bring our full presence in a warm and interactive way with our family. When Gratitude emerges it can remind us to be aware of how much we have to be thankful for in that moment and feel blessed and driven to share those blessings with everyone around us. When our strength Kindness emerges after a pause it will remind us to be patient with the people around us and to listen to and support them intentionally and when we’re alone, it reminds us to take care of our self. The Mindful Pause can help us when we are dealing with frustrating behaviors from our children. If we pause and allow Self-regulation and Perspective to emerge, we can then practice perspective and realize that they still love us despite their behavior and self-regulation can prevent us from saying something we’d regret later.

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