Below is a collection of mindfulness exercises that I shared on the FPC Facebook page in July 2019. Because we carry so much of our stress in our bodies, I thought a worldwide pandemic might be a good time to pull these back out for use. Perhaps you might choose to do one or two of them each week to pull you back into your body. With the exception of #8, all of these practices can be practiced on your own. Remember that you must prioritize your own mental, emotional, and physical health. You are a beloved child of God.
1. Breathe deeply for one full minute. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel the air move in and around you. Put your hands on your chest or stomach if you want. After the minute of mindful breathing, pause for one more moment to give thanks to God for this breath.
2. Hand (or foot) massage. For one minute, focus your attention to your hands or feet. Massage your muscles, stretch your fingers or toes, and examine the lines, wrinkles, marks on you. Pause for one more moment to give thanks to God for creating you in their image.
3. Try a loving-kindness meditation. Repeat to yourself: “May I be happy, may I be well, may I be filled with kindness and peace.” If you’d like, you can say “you” instead of “I” and think of someone specific or people in general. Remember that God created each person for good and you are loved.
4. Eat a piece of chocolate (or a raisin or a carrot or a…). For one full meal or snack, take this time to be mindful of your food. Slow down, get out of your car and eat off of a real plate, smell it, savor the flavor, look at the colors, notice how you feel once you have finished your bite. Think about where your food comes from and take one more moment to give thanks to God for the people, animals, and earth that made this food possible.
5. Find a phrase to repeat to yourself at the start of each day. Imagine you are a beloved child or your best friend. What reassuring thing would you want to hear? For example, try “I am enough” or “I do not have to do everything for everyone” or “I will show love.” Start the day with this aspiration and repeat it anytime you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed or stagnant. Remember that you are enough, you are loved, and you do not have to be all things to all people.
6. Go outside. If the weather is uncooperative, perhaps go near a window with a view. Find a comfortable place to sit and relax for a few minutes. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and feel your surroundings. What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? Open your eyes if you’d like and observe what you can see. Be present in creation. Remember that everything around you is part of God’s creation and feel your connection to it.
7. Stretch your body for a few minutes. Remember to breathe as you do so. Feel the muscles working to move you. Feel free to focus on one spot or start at your toes and work your way up to your head. Pause for a moment more to thank your body for all it does each day.
8. Hug someone (in your household). Take a deep breath together before you release. Make eye contact with this person and linger there for a second if you can. Ground yourself in the moment of being with another person. Remember that you are not alone.
9. Pick up an object you use every day – a toothbrush, a cup, a shoe, etc. Take a moment to examine this item. Is there evidence of use? How does it feel in your hand? Do you know anything about how it was made? Where did you get this object? Thank the object for the part it plays in helping you each day.
10. Settle into a comfortable spot and turn on a song. Maybe it’s an old favorite or one you’ve never heard. As the song plays, pay attention to the different instruments and sounds. Listen to the lyrics if there are any. Think about the musicians who created this piece. What do you feel as you listen? Take a moment after the song is over to check in with yourself. Feel the connection to the song and to its creator.