Mindfulness Exercises to Help You Be Present

The mindfulness exercises included in this page will do more than help you be present when communicating: these exercises will help you be present at any time.

Being present means we're paying attention to the here and now, it means we're living every moment as it is unfolding. This allows us to get the most out of living our lives - and not get sidetracked by our ever busy minds.

It sounds easy but it isn't. On the contrary, it's easier to get distracted, remembering pleasant memories from the past or daydreaming about exciting events coming up in the future. Often when we daydream we tend to avoid the troublesome parts of life. Sadly, in doing so, we invariably skip important parts of our life taking place in the present.

When we allow ourselves to become fully engaged and focused on both the positive and negative sides of our lives, we live life to its fullest.

Doing these mindfulness exercises will help you stay focused on the here and now, the situation at hand, the people you are with, the place you are at.

The exercises can help you break a habit you may have, the habit of thinking about the past or the future, and not paying full attention to what is presently going on.

I recommend you begin the exercises below in the order they are listed. Afterward, you may pick whatever exercise fits the moment and do it.

Exercise 1: Notice your surroundings.

Count items around you; notice the colors, without judging if they match or don't, feel the temperature, hear the sounds or noises around you.

Exercise 2: Notice what you eat.

Smell the smells, see the colors, shapes, feel the temperature of the food, taste the flavors, and even listen to sounds the food makes as you eat it.

Exercise 3: Notice the people you are with.

What is he or she saying? What's his or her voice like? What's their posture? What's their face expressing?

Exercise 4: Notice what you are not noticing.

Look around and see if you can identify what you tend to ignore. Look for what you are skipping and not noticing.

Exercise 5: Notice your breathing.

Pay attention to your breathing under normal circumstances. Bring a worrisome thought to your head and pay attention to your breathing, notice if it changes. Play with it. Bring a good thought to your mind and again notice if and how it changes your breathing.

Exercise 6: Notice Sounds and Noises Only.

Listen to distant and not so distant traffic, birds, voices, humming of machines, music playing.

Use the widget below to listen to create and listen to meditation chimes. Listen to the sounds without reading anything into them. Have fun, create sequences or just play one sound over and over.

The more you do these, and other similar, exercises, the more you begin to focus on the present. With practice, being mindful will become a habit and a way of being. Eventually, you won't even think of these as exercises; they will be things you naturally do.

As time goes by, you may even devise mindfulness exercises of your own as your sense of presence becomes stronger.

You may also want to get a copy of Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness for Beginners CD set. It's an excellent way to get you started on a path toward awareness and meditation.