Six Mindfulness Exercises That Every Bro Should Try
Let's be real; it's hard to define mindfulness. Sure, we can spew off the Webster's dictionary definition like a sixth-grader trying to increase their English essay's word count, but that's useless. Simply put, it's living in the moment.
Mindfulness isn't worrying about that PowerPoint presentation you are unprepared for or wondering why your Tinder matches never message back. It's about knowing what's going on in the present - your thoughts, feelings, perceptions, etc.
BUT IT IS HARD!
Seriously, how are you supposed to live in the now when you can't stop thinking about Katie in accounting, who's been strategically walking by your desk every day even though you know there is a quicker route to the printer?
Anyways, practicing mindfulness play wonders in your everyday life. How to do it, you ask? Well, instead of reading ambiguous tips - like "think positive" or "be patient" - check out these six concrete, practical mindfulness exercises that may improve your life at work, and maybe help get Katie out of your head.
The Five Senses Exercise
Unless you're Bruce Willis, you've got five senses (spoiler, he was dead the whole time). The purpose of this activity is to heighten your senses in the present, and is useful in any situation. First, you'll want to perform the exercise on a piece of paper to get some practice, but once you do it enough, you should be able to do it in your head. Answer the following questions.
- What are the five things you can see in your immediate area? It could be a coffee mug, dried up sharpie, or even the Bro Journal you recently purchased. Just write down five things you can see.
- What are the four things you can feel? Perhaps it's the smooth granite counter or the soft tank top that makes your delts look amazing.
- What are the three things you can hear? Just close your eyes and listen to your surroundings.
- What are the two things you can smell? Pro tip: not only is this about being mindful, but many people go nose blind to their scent. Take a whiff, and then probably a shower.
- What is the one thing you can taste? Drink some tea or eat a piece of fruit. What does it feel like in your mouth? Is it salty, sweet, rough, smooth, etc.?
Practice Different Breathing Techniques
Namastay. Practicing proper breathing techniques isn't just for yogis. Recent studies (need source) have shown that the part of the brain that controls breathing is directly related to our emotional state. While further research is ongoing, it's not rocket science (but it is neuroscience) to know that controlling your breath can help calm your mood and improve focus.
Try one of the following breathing techniques to become more mindful.
- The 4-7-8 method: Breath in for four seconds, hold it in for another seven, then slowly exhale for eight seconds. This method facilitates the reduction of stress and calms the brain.
- The Stimulating Breathing method: Okay, this one might need to be done in a private area, because it can be loud. Breathe in and out rapidly through your nose at equal lengths. You should aim for about three cycles per second. Now, you'll sound like a fat kid who vehemently complains about running the mile in gym class, but this technique shows to improve clarity and alertness.
- The 7/11 Method - Simple. Breathe in for seven seconds and out for eleven seconds while remaining focused on the breath. This technique is known to regain composure and reset any unwanted emotions.
Get in 'The Flow'
Do you know what it's like to get in your zone? It's like the task at hand, entirely envelops your brain. There is a term in psychology for that, known as flow, or the flow state. In this state, your mind is immersed 100% in the desired activity, even to the point that time becomes irrelevant. It's truly a powerful feeling, and when it comes to mindfulness and productivity, it should be your ultimate goal.
Unfortunately, in today's world, we are constantly distracted, so cultivating a state of flow can be difficult. To achieve this hyperfocus, you'll need to silence any phone notifications, get proper rest, balance your nutrition, and, most importantly, do not multitask. Focus on one thing, and one thing only, and soon enough, you'll immerse in a timeless state of productivity.
Watch What You Eat - Literally
Similar to the five senses exercises, mindful eating uses all your senses to feel what you eat. You are supposed to watch each bite as you prepare it on the fork. As you are chewing, feel the texture of the food in your mouth. Does the flavor profile remain consistent through each bite? Or does it begin to vary as you keep eating? Basically, as your eating, you should be aware of the emotions and sensations you are experiencing.
This technique not only has the benefit of training your brain to become mindful, but research has also shown that mindful eating can aid with weight loss. The theory is that if people are more conscious about what they are putting into their bodies, they will consume fewer calories and eat healthier foods.
Doodle Your Heart Out
Scribbling in a notebook isn't just an outlet to pass the time in class (we all drew the "Cool S" back in the day). Doodling has proven to increase concentration and improve focus (need source). Sketching that stick figure army helps soothe the brain, and you may even be able to achieve flow.
If you lack creativity, like myself (I tend to be more autistic than artistic), there are other ways to express your imagination. Try creating a scene by never picking up your pencil, or create something using only triangles. There's no rhyme or reason to it, but the key is to focus your energy on the pen and paper, and the doodles will follow.
Journal, Journal, Then Journal Some More
Many men have a learned fear of writing. After years of public education, forced essays, and history papers, I lost my love for writing, which killed my imagination. Take a pen and paper and begin to let the words flow. Whatever comes to your mind, jot it down. This technique is known as stream of consciousness writing and may help you explore your thoughts and give you the ability to learn new things about yourself.
If you need more structure to your writing, then well, you've come to the right place. Get a Bro Journal! Didn't you think I'd write this whole article without a shameless plug for our product? On a serious note, utilizing the Bro Journal will help you develop in ways you couldn't imagine. Try it out today, and continue on your mindfulness journey.
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