Mindfulness exercises for beginners come in all shapes and forms. However, getting started with mindfulness is often easier said than done.
In an age where stress levels are high and productivity is king, more and more people are turning to mindfulness.
Sifting through the sheer volume of information available today isn't always a simple task.
In this mindfulness beginners guide, we’re going to strip things back and provide everything you need to embark on your journey.
That includes 8 beginner mindfulness exercises that you can experiment with today, and plenty of further resources so you can dig deeper.
In simple terms, mindfulness is the art of being aware in the face of whatever is happening in the present moment.
It’s the practice of holding a sense of presence and non-judgment.
Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness isn’t about having a completely clear mind 24/7. It’s also not something reserved for lifelong meditation practitioners or ordained monks...
Getting started with mindfulness doesn't require special clothes, high tech equipment, incense, or any other complications.
Here’s the thing:
It can be practiced by anyone, at any time; there are no prerequisites required whatsoever.
Mindfulness is a state of being that we’re ideally looking to cultivate in our everyday life. Whether that’s doing the dishes at home or sending an email at work.
However, to be able to effectively do this, a formal practice of some sort is often useful.
This can look different for each individual:
Meditation, mindful movement, mindful eating, and body scans are all valid forms.
There are many variations of mindfulness exercises for beginners, but regardless of the modality, the same six basic principles tend to apply:
1. Set aside a time to practice.
Having a regular time that you dedicate to cultivating mindfulness can help create a lasting habit. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or during your lunch break, pick a time that’s easy for you to stick to consistently.
2. Get into a comfortable position.
Simply find a quiet place in the house, at the office or on a park bench. Whether you're sitting, standing, walking or lying down, get into a comfortable position. Feel free to set a timer for 5-10 minutes.
3. Notice the inevitable distractions.
You can pick one of the mindfulness techniques for beginners listed later in the article or on the rest of the site, or simply choose to focus your attention on the sensations of breathing. This is your anchor - a point of reference that you try to return to whenever possible.
4. Sense the breath as best you can.
You can pick one of the mindfulness exercises for beginners listed later in the article or on the rest of the site, or simply choose to focus your attention on the sensations of breathing. This is your anchor - a point of reference that you try to return to whenever possible.
5. Notice the inevitable distractions.
Your mind will start to wander at some point. It’s totally natural and doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. Whenever it drifts, do your best to notice this and any judgments that may pop up as a result.
6. Bring your attention back to the present.
Every time you catch the mind wandering, simply bring your attention back to the present moment. Try not to judge yourself or beat yourself up. It’s not about sitting there with a clear mind! The practice is noticing distractions and gently returning to the anchor.
Although mindfulness isn’t typically pursued to achieve a particular goal, science has been able to demonstrate a wide range of potential benefits.
These include improvements in sleep, stress levels, anxiety, productivity, perceived happiness, and much more.
In the video below, Jon Kabat-Zinn discusses what mindfulness and meditation are really about:
The presence of heart.
It’s no secret:
When you first dive into the world of mindfulness and begin searching for practices get started with, it can get a little overwhelming.
To make things easier for you, in this guide we’ve put together a bunch of beginner-friendly mindfulness exercises and meditations.
There’s something here for everyone. From simple breathing exercises and body scans, to listening exercises and mindful movement.
Give them a try and feel free to share them with loved ones if you feel they may benefit too!
One of the biggest obstacles people face when adopting a mindfulness practice is this:
Finding the time to fit it in amongst the craziness of everyday life.
The great news?
Mindfulness doesn’t have to mean hour-long meditation sessions every day.
Even just a few minutes of focussed breathing can make a tangible difference to your state of mind. You’re left feeling recharged and re-centered to go about your day.
Here’s how to get started with the two-minute mindful breathing:
You can use this short meditation to recharge in the middle of a busy day, or you can stay with this process for as long as you like.
While many mindfulness exercises for beginners tend to use the breath as the main focus point, this doesn't always have to be the case.
Here’s the deal:
In the modern world, it’s easy to spend much of our time in completely tuned out of our body. Often times we only pay attention to it when we’re in pain or feeling hungry.
The body scan is a great way to check in and recalibrate our sense of self.
In fact, a 2017 study  showed that an 8-week body scan intervention was successful in improving interoception - the ability to sense the internal state of the body.
By scanning each part of your body, you create space for tense areas to relax. By the end of the guided meditation, you’ll likely feel more grounded and at peace.
If you struggle to drop off at night, it can also be used to wind down before bed to help you fall asleep faster.
The three mindful breaths exercise is more proof that introducing mindfulness into your everyday life doesn’t have to be complicated.
The premise is simple:
In the space of just a few mindful inhales and exhales, we’re able to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the real world and cultivate a sense of awareness.
Here’s another free guided mindfulness exercise for beginners to get you started:
Some people find that seated mindfulness exercises aren’t always suitable for them.
This is often the case with people who deal with chronic pain or those who work sedentary jobs and want to avoid being static for prolonged time periods.
That’s where mindful movement exercises like walking can play an important role.
A 2013 study  showed that a 4-week mindful walking program resulted in reduced psychological stress symptoms and improved quality of life compared to a control group.
Here’s a simple explanation of walking meditation from Mark Coleman that you can experiment with:
Perhaps one of the most important benefits of a regular meditation practice is a heightened sense of gratitude.
A 2015 study  showed that both gratitude and mindfulness-based practices were associated with improvements in gratitude and happiness scores.
They also resulted in reductions in perceived stress levels - no doubt something that most of us could benefit from.
At first, this one may seem a little out of the ordinary…
It’s a viable mindfulness exercise for beginners and more advanced practitioners. It’s commonly used in the worldwide Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course pioneered by Jon Kabat Zinn.
The raisin drill is a great way to turn a seemingly ordinary experience into an opportunity to develop awareness. It’s also an excellent reminder of the benefits of slowing down when we eat.
It’s common for us to go through the motions at mealtimes, wolfing down our food without a second thought to how it tastes or makes us feel.
As a result, we tend to miss out on hidden flavors, and may even find our digestion suffers too.
So grab two raisins and a glass of water, and get ready to experience dried fruit in a completely different way...
Anxiety, stress and sleep issues are three of the most common reasons one might initially turn towards a mindfulness practice.
The good news?
The science shows regular meditation can potentially be beneficial for all of the above:
The guided meditation below from Jason Stephenson is a little longer than others listed in this article but is highly rewarding if you can carve out the time.
Last but certainly not least, we come to a mindful listening practice courtesy of Alan Watts.
Listening is sometimes described as a lost art. With so much focus these days put on productivity and busyness, it’s rare us to take time to simply be still and listen to what’s going on around us.
However, the potential value of doing just that is immense. Not only does being a good listener improve your communication skills, it may also help you be more present in everyday life.
One of the main takeaways from the meditation below is this:
The stream of sounds that occur around us is comparable to the stream of thoughts going through our minds. The process for becoming more at peace with each is actually very similar.
Mindfulness Exercises Founder
Sean Fargo is a highly sought-after teacher and speaker on the topics of mindfulness, meditation, and well-being. He regularly teaches CEO’s, celebrities and large groups around the world. In addition to speaking to executives at Fortune 500 companies and at various events, he leads an internationally accredited Mindfulness Teacher Certification Program.
1 Fischer, D., Messner, M., & Pollatos, O. (2017). Improvement of interoceptive processes after an 8-week body scan intervention. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 11, 452.
2 Teut, M., Roesner, E. J., Ortiz, M., Reese, F., Binting, S., Roll, S., ... & Brinkhaus, B. (2013). Mindful walking in psychologically distressed individuals: A randomized controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.
3 O'Leary, K., & Dockray, S. (2015). The effects of two novel gratitude and mindfulness interventions on well-being. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 21(4), 243-245.
4 Orme-Johnson, D. W., & Barnes, V. A. (2014). Effects of the transcendental meditation technique on trait anxiety: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(5), 330-341. Mindfulness exercises for beginners.
5 Martires, J., & Zeidler, M. (2015). The value of mindfulness meditation in the treatment of insomnia. Current opinion in pulmonary medicine, 21(6), 547-552.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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