Practices in a Pinch

mindfull2Much of the information provided on this page has been taken from Meditation For Dummies (2nd edition), which was written by Stephen Bodian with the Forward written by Dean Ornish, MD (2006).  This material is reproduced with permission of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

These additional exercises are alternative mindfulness activities that you can utilize at your leisure.


Practicing Relaxation (15-20 minutes)

  • Find a spot where you can sit quietly and undisturbed.
  • Sit in a position that you can comfortably maintain for the amount of time that you take.
  • Choose an object to concentrate on.
    • This object can be a visual symbol or a special symbol of personal significance
    • Keep your attention focused on the object; when you get distracted, return your focus to the object
  • Maintain a receptive attitude.
    • Let thoughts, images, and feelings pass through you without trying to interpret them.

Walking Mediation

  • Begin by walking at your usual pace, following your breath as you walk.
  • Coordinate your breathing with your walking.
    • Example: Take 3 steps for each inhalation and 3 steps for each exhalation
  • In addition to your breathing, be aware of your feet and legs as you lift and move them.
    • Notice the contact of your feet with the ground or floor.
    • If you find it too difficult to focus on both your breathing and your feet or legs, just choose one to focus your attention on and stick with it.
  • Enjoy your steady, mindful walking for as long as you want

Mindful Eating

  • Before you begin eating, take a few moments to appreciate your food.
    • Reflect on the earth and the sunshine that gave life to the food and the people and effort that bright it to your table.
    • You can thank God or spirit, or you can sit silently and feel grateful for what you have.
  • Bring your awareness to your hand as you lift the first bite of food to your lips.
    • You can eat more slowly than usual or just eat as you usually do, but be as mindful as possible.
  • Be fully aware as the first morsel of food enters your mouth and floods your taste buds with sensations.
    • Notice your thoughts as it judges the flavor: “It’s too spicy” or “It tastes better than last time I made this.”
    • Notice any emotions that arise as you eat: disappointment, joy, relief, and so forth.
    • Notice the physical sensations
  • If you talk while you eat, notice how the talking affects you.
    • Do certain topics give you anxiety or indigestion?
    • Can you still enjoy your meal?
  •  Stay mindful of each mouthful as you gradually eat your meal.
    • If you get distracted, stop and breathe for a moment before starting to eat again.

Softening Your Belly (5+ minutes)

  • Begin by sitting comfortably and taking a few deep breaths.
  • Allow your awareness to shift into your body.
  • Allow your awareness to descend to your belly as you gently soften this area of you body.
    • Consciously let go of any tension in this area
  • Allow for your breath to enter into your belly.
    • When you inhale, your stomach rises.  When you exhale, your stomach falls.
  • With each breath, continue to soften your belly.
    • Let go of any anger, fear, pain, or unresolved grief you may be holding in your belly.
  • As you continue with the exercise, notice how your heart responds.
  • After 5 minutes or more, open your eyes and go about your day.

Grounding Into The Earth (10-15 minutes)

  • Begin by sitting quietly, closing your eyes.  Take a few slow, deep breaths.
  • Focus your awareness on your lower abdomen, at a point about 2 inches below your navel and 1 and a half inches inside your body.
  • Direct your breath into this area, expanding it when you inhale and contracting it when you exhale.
    • Deliberately breath into this area for 5 minutes, allowing your awareness to focus there
  • Continue to breathe into this part of your body.  Imagine that you are a tree with roots that go deep into the earth.
    • Visualize and feel these roots originating from your lower abdomen and growing down through the base of your spine into the ground, going as far down as you can imagine.
  • Feel and visualize these roots drawing energy up from the earth into your lower stomach on the inhalation, and feel the energy spreading down through the roots on the exhalation.
    • Continue for 5-10 minutes.
  • When you feel charged and strong, you can get up and go about your day.

Practicing A Half Smile (10+ minutes)

  • Take a few moments to form your lips into a half smile.
    • Notice other parts of your body.  Does your belly relax?  Does your back naturally straighten a little?  Does your mood change in a subtle way?  Also notice if you have any resistance to smiling.
  • Hold this half smile for at least 10 minutes as you engage in ordinary activities.
    • Do you notice a shift in how you act or respond to others?  Do others respond to your smile by smiling back?
  • The next time you feel your spirits sagging, practice this half smile for at least half an hour and notice how you feel.

Peaceful Place

  • Begin by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and taking a few deep breaths.
  • Imagine yourself in a safe, protected, peaceful place.
    • It may be a place you know well, a place you have visited once or twice, or a place in your imagination.
  • Take as much time as you need to imagine this peaceful place as vividly as you can, using all of your senses.
    • Notice the colors, the shapes, the sounds, the light, the feeling of the air against your skin, the contact of your feet against the ground.
    • Explore this space until your heart is content.
  • Allow yourself to rest in the feelings of comfort, safety, and tranquility this special place brings to you.
  • Spend as much time here as you want.
    • When you are done, slowly open your eyes and return to the present moment.

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