4 Simple Mindfulness Tools

4 Simple Mindfulness Tools to add to your toolbox to help cultivate present moment awareness and to navigate life with more ease and flow.

At its core mindfulness is simple right? It is essentially being aware of your thoughts, actions, interactions, and environments without judgment. Mindfulness can also be defined as a present moment awareness and appreciation.

Now take this concept and place it in our modern world. Does mindfulness seem to fit easily into our busy world? No, not really. I often see rushing, hurry, and worry more than I see present moment awareness. This is because it is very easy to be engulfed by our busy schedules and crazy long list of to-dos each day.

Take a moment to think of what mindfulness may look like at the grocery store, school, work, the train, or at the airport. This could be you or the people around you. How does that feel different than the current pace? Do you feel that mindfulness is an intention that you take with you to these public places or your interactions with others? It is totally okay if your answer is no because the truth is, it can be hard to remember to stay mindful while going about our busy days getting shit done.

But what if you did take mindfulness with you throughout your day? How would that effect your life? Your overall wellbeing? Do you think that maybe being more aware of your present moment more frequently would help you feel more satisfied with your life without changing a single thing? Well, the answer is yes, it absolutely can! Shifting to a more mindful state allows you to cultivate and appreciate the present moment. By cherishing the present moment and not living in the past or the future, we are experiencing life. All we have is the present moment, so let’s enjoy it!

This is why we need a toolbox that we can use to make it easier to practice mindfulness in our busy lives. Life will continue to be busy and will continue to have ups and downs but having a toolbox will allow you to navigate and enjoy this life with ease a flow!

Here are 4 simple mindfulness tools, practices, and exercises that you can add to your toolbox and practice anywhere, anytime. Start to incorporate the ones you like into your day to day to feel the powerful benefits of shifting your awareness!

Square Breathing

The first tool to add to your toolbox is a simple but effective breathwork exercise. Practicing breathwork regularly soothes the nervous system and in turn improves our response to acute stress. Breathwork has also been shown to elevate mood, alkalinize your blood pH, and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.

This square breathing technique is a method to focus the mind using controlled, deliberate breathing. Square breathing is very simple. A square has four equal sides. Square breathing has four equal sections. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds, and then hold for 4 seconds again, and then repeat. If you find it hard to hold your breath for 4 seconds in this cycle, count to 3 when going around your square instead.

It can also be helpful to imagine moving along the edges of a square object, so visualize yourself breathing around the 4 corners of a square, a box, a window, a photo frame, or anything else that’s square.

Looking for a simple way to melt away tension during a stressful day? Need a break so you can refocus your attention? Square breathing is a simple and effective way to calm yourself down in the moment when you meet it, plus you can enjoy a few minutes of peace.

Continue this activity for a minimum of 5 minutes and as you get used to it, you can expand the amount of time you continue this breathing pattern to 10 or 15 minutes or keep your sessions short.

5 Senses Exercise

The 5 senses exercise is another simple tool for your toolbox that you can do at any time to expand your mindfulness. You can do it in a couple of minutes or take longer depending how much time you have. In this exercise, you will simply be noticing things that you are currently experiencing through all your senses.

This is a great way to bring you to the here and now of your present moment. Keep in mind that you are not judging anything that you are sensing, you are just bringing them to your awareness.

As the name implies, we will be going through each of the senses in the following way:

  1. Five things you can see. Look at your environment and bring your awareness to 5 things you can see. Try to pick things that are not obvious or things that you normally would not be aware of.
  2. Four things that you can feel. The next step is to bring awareness of things that you are you are currently feeling. For example, the texture of your pants or your shirt. It can be the feeling of something on your hand or the feeling of the cool air that may be blowing on you.
  3. Three things you can hear. The next step is to take a moment to 3 things that you can hear. These things can be a car in the distance, the air conditioner, a bird in the background, or even a conversation.
  4. Two things you can smell. Next take a moment to become of aware of two things that you can smell. These can be things that you may not ordinarily notice. It can be the smell of a flower that is in bloom, a nearby restaurant, the smell of the food your coworker is eating, or the perfume someone is wearing. Keep in mind that the smells do not have to necessarily be pleasant.
  5. Notice one thing you can taste. Lastly bring your awareness of one thing you can taste. This can be something that you are drinking, a mint that you may have in your mouth, or just notice the current taste in your mouth. You can even notice if the air has a taste when you breathe in.

Emotion Surfing

Did you know that a negative emotion lasts for only about 90 seconds IF we do not fuel it with judgement; i.e. negative thoughts, worry about the future, or pain from the past. Essentially, if we don’t embrace the emotion by feeding it thoughts, it will pass. Cool right?

I like to think of this as “surfing the emotional wave”. If you can ride this emotional wave by just being aware of the emotion, accepting the emotion, and then releasing that emotion you will be able to avoid the unnecessary negativity that comes with the spiraling negative thoughts that feed the emotion. The next time you feel an emotion pop up that doesn’t feel good, allow yourself to practice surfing the emotional wave!

How to practice Emotion Surfing:

For the next 90 seconds you are going to let go of all judgement. This emotion is not to be labeled good or bad; right or wrong. It just is. Notice the emotion. Give the emotion a label (anger, shame, guilt, worry, etc.), but do not judge it. Now accept your emotion. Once you accept it, you can release it and let it go. You can say to yourself (or out loud). “I am feeling angry, I accept this feeling of anger and I release it, I let it go.” Take a deep breath, filling your lungs, and then let it all go. Breath intentionally throughout this process to help move the energy of the emotion through.

Full Body Scan

A great tool to bring you back to center and allow you to cultivate present moment body awareness is a full body scan. This is technically a meditation practice that can be done in as little as one minute and for as long as you like. This practice will bring you back in tune with your physical body and cultivate mindfulness.

To do the full body scan, you can either find a comfy quiet space with your eyes closed, or when you’re on the run, you can do it in your car (while it’s parked!), on the train, or while you’re waiting for your next meeting.

Start with taking a few deep breaths that fill the lungs and let them go. Begin at the crown of your head and sequentially move down your body to your ears, eyes, mouth, lips, neck, shoulders, chest, heart, stomach, arms, hands, fingers, hips, legs, feet, and toes. You can stop at any area of your body that you are called to as well. When you arrive at each area take a moment to feel the sensations there. Without judgement notice anything that comes up. This may be physical pain, emotional pain, a feeling of vibration, or a feeling of its aliveness. If any pain comes up for you, surf the emotion (as described above) and let it go. Imagine the pain dissolving and let it go. After reaching your final body area, take a deep breath in and exhale everything out to let it go.

To modify the body scan for the amount of time you have available, change the areas of the body or body parts that you will scan. A short and simple body scan may only visit the head, chest, arms, legs, and feet. While a longer body scan can visit more detailed areas such as the ears, tongue, lips, each individual finger, etc…

Tip: Flex your mindful muscles by setting alarms in your phone to remind you to practice these tools throughout the day. When the alarm goes off, take a short break to be mindful!

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About Me

I’m Nicole! A Nutritionist with a BS in Nutrition & Dietetics, Certified Life Coach specializing in mindfulness and the law of attraction, and a Certified Meditation Coach.

I take a no-diet, holistic approach towards nutrition by fusing functional nutrition methods with intuitive and mindful eating practices and principles. I guide and teach my clients to love their body, make strategic and lasting behavioral changes, and reach their optimum health and their body’s natural weight WITHOUT diets. 

Want to know why I will never prescribe a diet to any of my clients? Read The Scary Truth About Dieting.

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