Achieving peace of mind through mindfulness requires a steady process of learning and unlearning through mindfulness activities. There are mindfulness exercises that will help eliminate destructive thoughts, train the mind into a more accepting way of thinking and help you achieve mental tranquility. Follow these steps to start changing how you process thoughts and learn how to find inner peace.
1. Be Aware of Your Breathing
Breathing is automatic, so we tend to ignore it. However, by becoming aware of our breathing, we learn to focus on a specific action, what it is, why it’s done and what happens because of it. On your path toward inner peace, focusing on your breathing is a key first step.
How It's Done:
Sit in a cool, comfortable and quiet place. Make sure your spine, shoulders, hips, arms and legs are relaxed and comfortable. You could perform this exercise with your eyes closed or by focusing on a single object near you or at a distance. Start by taking long, deep breaths. Inhale through the nose. Then, exhale slowly and steadily through your mouth. Allow your mind to relax and slow down.
Your mind will wander. When it does, acknowledge the thought and then bring your focus back and remain aware of your breathing. Keep in mind that other thoughts will enter your mind, but know that this is to be expected. Observe this process, but do so without judgment. Then, focus on your breathing again.
2. Focus Your Mind With a Raisin
Very often, we perform things automatically and are barely aware of what’s going on and why. For example, we could read an article in a newspaper, then read it again because our mind was wandering. This exercise will help you learn how to truly savor an experience from beginning to end.
How It’s Done:
Take a handful of raisins or similar dried fruit and observe it as if you have never seen one before. Take note of its color, texture, scent, size and weight. Examine the wrinkles, the dry and damp spots, the ridges and the valleys. Use a finger to feel its texture, softness and firmness.
Next, smell the raisin and try to describe its scent in your mind. Again, do so without judgment. Place a raisin on your tongue and observe how your body reacts upon contact. Allow the taste of the raisin to spread in your mouth as you slowly chew it. Savor the sensations you feel, then swallow the pulp. You can also do this with your eyes closed to maximize your experience.
By focusing on your experience about something as seemingly insignificant as a raisin, you’ll learn how to notice the details you often ignore.
3. Apply What You’ve Learned
Achieving peace of mind using mindfulness exercises lets you use parts of your brain that are rarely triggered. Once you learn to focus your attention, you’ll be able to apply it to everyday life.
How It's Done:
There are moments, activities, events and opportunities that come to you every day, each of which can be appreciated in a whole new way. Use what you’ve learned and apply it to everyday things, such as when you:
- Wake up in bed: Focus on the sheets, the curtains, the sun, the smell of the fabric, etc.
- Walk the dog: Focus on the feel of the concrete under your feet, the movements of the dog, the sound of traffic, the feel of the leash, etc.
- Drink coffee at a coffee shop: Focus on the smell and taste of the coffee, the feel and color of the cup, the smells and sounds in the coffee shop, etc.
Choose one ordinary activity you do every day and experience it in a way you haven’t experienced before. In time, you will have developed a non-judgmental way of observing and experiencing things that will allow you to appreciate your life more and find inner peace.
Note that these steps are basic exercises anyone can perform at home. If you’re still having difficulty focusing and need additional help finding inner peace or coping with a related mental health disorder, consider seeking the professional advice of Brookhaven Retreat.