Where does it say mindfulness has to be serious or boring? No where. That’s where. So here comes some nice and easy ways to be more mindful. But there’s another reason for this too...
I was at a talk all about the science of happiness, and the speaker mentioned all the scientific benefits of mindfulness. But he seemed quite reluctant to practise mindfulness himself. And when I spoke to other members of the audience, many of them thought they ‘should’ be practising mindfulness, but found it too boring and not for them.
So if you think you should be practising mindfulness, or like your mindfulness practice but want to spice it up and help others to experience mindfulness in a more accessible way, check out some of these ideas and let me know what you think.
I’ve purposely kept the fun techniques (or what I call fechniques….joking) short because I love reading short books myself. I’ve got such a long list of books on my wish list, that as soon as I find a nice, short book that gets to the point, makes me very happy. So I thought I better share what I enjoy, and so here it is.
These activities are suitable for adults, children and everyone in between.
Lose yourself to dance! The funny thing is, losing yourself is sometimes the best way to find yourself. And dancing is a beautiful way to do that.
Don’t feel you have to choose a slow, boring piece of music to be mindful. You can be in the moment with whatever is your favourite music.
I grant you full permission to enjoy your music and get that body moving!
Most people think dancing is done with others. But dancing is a lot of fun on your own too. You don’t have to think at all about what others think, and can experiment to your heart’s content.
1. Make some space in your room so you can swing your arms and legs around
2. Load up your favorite track, and crank it up.
3. Move your body however you wish!
4. Give your full attention to the music if you can. Let the music move your body.
Q: I feel awkward dancing. What should I do?
A: Then feel awkward. The feeling of awkwardness is just that – a feeling. If I tell you ‘don’t worry about it’ or something like that, you’ll still feel the same. If you just can’t cope with the feeling, get a few dance lessons for beginners.
Bonus points if you can dance in the rain!
Mindful tea or coffee
Do you like tea or coffee or any other drink? If so, try this one. If you don’t like drinks in particular, please ignore this tip and move on!
Most people drink tea or coffee everyday. May as well make it more enjoyable by making it a mindful experience.
1. Sit down.
2. Take one deep breath and smile as big a smile as you can without looking crazy to any onlookers.
3. Take a sip of the tea or coffee and enjoy the warmth, the flavour, the feeling of the liquid gently going down your throat.
4. Think about how lucky you are to be able to afford to have a luxury like this. Billions don’t have this available to them. Lucky you.
I watched a movie that quoted ‘if you can walk, you can dance.’
Now, I’ve thought of an extension to that:
If you can talk, you can sing.
Think you can’t sing? Have you ever been to a karaoke? The one’s I’ve been to, a LOT of people can’t sing in tune…but that certainly didn’t stop them from belting out that ABBA number.
You can sing on your own in the shower.
Sing in your bedroom (use your hairbrush as a fake microphone of course)
Singing in a group is a wonderful activity.
Singing is an awesome thing. So fun. Singing opens the heart. And it’s fun for most people.
A lot of people have a fear of singing due to what other people said to them. And then they judge themselves as not being able to sing. All nonsense.
Sing as if no-one’s listening – that’s what I say!
How to sing mindfully in the shower:
1. Get yourself in the shower and switch it on (clothing optional)
2. Start humming your favorite tune.
3. Eventually you’ll be overcome with the urge to sing it.
4. Use the showerhead as a microphone if you can
5. Let it rip!
6. The mindful bit is just to have a go at this first. And then once you’re getting comfortable singing, see if you can enjoy listening to your own voice.
Q: I hate my own voice. What should I do?
A: Start by whistling or humming a tune. That can be done in a mindful way too.
Bonus points if you manage to do this one even though you don’t normally sing at all.
Skipping is sooooo underrated. But it looks extremely funny when an adult skips - it spreads smiles.
And laughter is a definite step towards mindfulness in my book.
So….. skip away!
1. Depending on your current confidence levels choose anywhere between your own garden or quiet area of a park, to a busy shopping area.
2. Skip down the road.
3. If you don’t know how to skip, watch this HOW TO video – it’s easier than it looks.
4. The mindful bit is to notice the wind in your hair, the sound of your feet on the floor, feel the smile on your face.
Bonus: Manage to persuade several strangers around you that skipping is actually totally cool and the cutting edge of fashion, and skip along with them.
Mindfully eating chocolate
If you’re reading this blog, you went straight to this section, didn’t you?!
If you love chocolate, this is going to blow…..your…..mind.
I once had a group and someone shared this story with me.
During the war, her parents could only afford one bar of chocolate a week. So, every Friday evening, the whole family sat together by the fireplace and broke up the bar of chocolate. Two pieces for mum. Two pieces of dad. And one piece for each of the three children. When they received that piece of chocolate, they slowing put the piece of chocolate in their mouth and tried to make the chocolate last for as long as possible.
She told me it was the most delicious experience of chocolate she ever had. And I’m almost certain it’s not because of the make of chocolate. It’s the way they ate it – savouring every moment.
So, my friend, do have a go at this.
1. Get yourself nice and cosy. If a bit chilly and you’re lucky enough to have one, get that fireplace on!
2. Hold a piece of chocolate in your hand, resting on the wrapper
3. Look – notice the colour and shape of the chocolate. You’ll notice more and more as time goes by.
4. Smell. Take a minute to do that. Let the scent waft into you. Close your eyes to enhance the experience.
5. Listen to the chocolate...yes, you heard me right. Listen. Is the chocolate saying anything to you? My chocolate always whispers to me: ‘Eat me Shamash...you know you want to….I’m yours’.
6. Taste. Sloooowwwwlyyyyy, pop the chocolate on your tongue and close your mouth.. But resist chewing! Your job is to make that chocolate last as long as possible in your mouth and notice as much as you can.
7. Eventually you’ll almost automatically begin swallowing. And it’ll be gone.
8. But! You’ll still have the after-taste in your mouth. Notice that, and notice how full or empty your tummy feels.
Bonus: If you can take 15 minutes to eat one piece of chocolate…hmmmm. And also probably some kind of world record.
Do you like having baths?
Littl’ kids love ‘em! And so do big kids like you and me.
It’s really fun if you build up to your bath and make the whole experience extra special.
If you want to do that, here’s how:
1. Prep yourself for the bath by getting some nice new bath salts. There’s so many shops selling them now – so go out and get something new and a bit different – doing things differently is a great, fun way to get mindful. Some shops even sell ‘bath bombs’ which are weird and wonderful shapes like turtles or rockets.
2. Run your bath and start creating a nice environment. I recommend some nice candles so the lighting is soothing. To enhance the effect, either draw the curtains in the bathroom, or have your bath in the early evening.
3. Music? You can experiment. Match the music with your mood of course. And again, you can play about with either something familiar or some new numbers. See if you can sort out a playlist so you don’t have to keep messing about with it during your bath.
4. Get in! It’s about mindfulness, remember, so take your time and feel the warmth of the water and notice the effect of the bath on you.
Bonus: Try doing some mindful breathing or a mindful body scan whilst you’re in the bath to get your mindfulness a super boost.
To make mindfulness fun and easy, the best way is to do things differently. That wakes you up.
So to have a mindful shower differently, shower differently. If you normally start by washing your hair and working downwards, go the opposite way. Start by scrubbing those toes first.
Or vary the speed – if you’re normally out in 2 minutes, try doubling it to 4 minutes – although I must admit, that’s not so good for the environment, so maybe not.
See what would work for you.
Begin with a nice, deep and smiley breath
Turn on the shower and listen to that lovely sound of water. It’s like a very mini version of Niagra Falls.
Hop in...mindfully of course!
Notice the feeling of the water on your skin - hmmm, delicious.
Now try living dangerously...and do your normal shower routine in a different order...I know, it’s crazy! But do it anyway - you’ll survive.
Smell...enjoy the scent of your soap - and if it sticks, you need some different soap asap.
Combine this with mindful singing (see above) if you feel so inclined.
Once you’re all done, dry yourself. Think of it as a massage with a towel. Enjoy every moment.
Hop out and smile...say ‘Watch out world, here I come!’
Bonus: If you have a slightly quicker and more mindful shower, you’re reducing the amount of water you use – so bonus for you for that. Our planet needs you!
As I was much better at science than I was at art at school, I stopped painting at about age 13. Well, that’s what my art teacher said. And hadn’t painted anything since.
I’m very grateful to my flatmate who, about 6 years ago, encouraged me to buy a blank canvas, some cheap poster paint, and to literally squirt the paint on and wave my brush around on the canvas.
It was so great!
Painting is both a fun and mindful activity. It’s nothing to do with actually making a portrait or landscape I don’t think. For me, it’s just about having fun with colours.
Go buy some paints and either thick paper or a canvas. Act as if you do this kind of thing all the time in the shop, just for fun.
Take a few mindful breaths.
Grab some paint and squirt it on the paper. Enjoy any funny sounds that makes.
Get started! Spread the paint with your brush however you feel.
Add the next paint and so on. Feel free to make a mess (as i don’t need to tidy it up! Haha)
When finished, either hang on your wall, or take a photo and send to the Tate Modern - they may offer you millions of pounds for it, as I’m sure there are similar works of art on their walls.
Bonus: Forget paint brushes. Use your hands and fingers. Don’t blame me if it doesn’t come off - use washable paints.
I listened to a fascinating talk by a guy called Vishen Lakhiani. In his talk, he described visiting Croatia for the first time and taking photos of what he saw.
But he was mindful in his photography because he only took one photo per day.
What a great idea.
Games are fun not despite their rules, but because of their rules. In football (soccer for some of you), you can’t pick up the ball and run – you can only use your legs or head. No arms allowed. That’s what makes it fun.
So to photograph mindfully, and make it more of a game, limit yourself to one photo a day next time you’re on holiday.
Or if that’s too much of a jump, try at least one photo per hour. And share your photos with us all, but uploading online with hashtag #onemindfulpic
Photography is only mindful if you’re really looking at what you’re about to photograph.
Check out any photographs by monk Matthieu Ricard – he’s a master of mindful photography. He can wait a month to take one photo in his hermitage up in Nepal! Now that’s patience!
Take any camera and step outside your home.
Keep looking around and noticing your surroundings, looking for the perfect photo.
Don’t rush it - you’ll only be taking one photo!
Once you take your photo - just accept it. That’s the game…
If you crack under the pressure and take more than one, no problem...you are forgiven!
If you’re proud of your photo, print it out and stick it on your fridge.
Next time, try taking lots of photos and notice how you feel and if you feel differently by taking more photos, or just the same. Is it more or less mindful to just take one photo?
Bonus: See if you can find one of those old film cameras rather than a digital camera, and use that for a chance. Or perhaps even one of those instant polaroid type cameras. They are a lot of fun!
I only swim occasionally. But when I do, I do always explore mindful swimming.
Swimming is very much a whole body experience. Your whole body is touched by the water.
If the water is of an extreme temperature, either hot or cold, mindfulness is automatic and requires no work on your part. If the water is freezing, you’ll definitely be mindful!
And the same goes for a hot Jacuzzi. Though you can’t swim very far in there.
1. Just before you dive in, take a few mindful breaths, or at least reflect for a few moments on your intention. To be gently conscious of your experience, whatever that may be.
2. Start swimming.
3. Notice the movement of your legs and arms. The touch of the water against your skin. The rhythm of your breathing.
4. Once you get into a steady rhythm, the mindful swimming experience is almost trance like in its soothing way.
5. Try stopping at the end and see if you can just float on your back in the water.
6. Feel your body and maybe do a little scan of your body.
7. Get a sense of what it means to ‘let go’.
Make some notes of how you felt after your swim. What did you notice?
Have you got any more ideas? If so, please share them and I’ll add some of them in. Thanks!
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