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3 Mindfulness Exercises

When we enter a depressed state we courageously try to reason our way out of it. Unfortunately, ruminating over our gloominess does not bring us happiness but instead puts us into a deeper state of depression.

The solution is not to be in THINKING MODE but rather in BEING MODE. Being mode is a state of nonjudgmental, calm awareness.

Here are 6 simple exercises that if you do them regularly can help bring you mental calmness.

1. Pleasant Events Exercise

Our brains are hard-wired to scan our environment for danger. This nervous system response keeps us alive, but if left unchecked can have negative consequences on our mental wellbeing.

Keeping a record of positive events counters our tendency to focus on what is going wrong. Instead, it encourages us to spend more time thinking about pleasant events and consequently feel the pleasant emotions that go with that event. This is not about reliving monumental joyous events, but rather noticing the small moments of daily pleasure that we often overlook.

There are five steps to the process:

1. What was the experience?

2. Did you noticed pleasant feelings while the event was happening?

3. What physical sensations occurred during the event?

4. What mood, feelings and thoughts accompanied the event?

5 What is your mood now as you write this down?

2. The Raisin Meditation

This simple mindfulness exercise requires you to focus on the present moment using all your senses, thus shifting your mind away from overthinking and into the present moment.

Sit comfortably in a chair. Place a raisin in your hand.

LOOK at the raisin. Really concentrate. Let your eyes roam over the fruit and pick out all the details: the colour, areas of light and shade, any ridges or shine.

TOUCH the raisin. Feel its smallness in your palm. Explore the raisin’s texture with your fingers. Is the skin waxy? Are there any edges? It is soft or hard?

SMELL the raisin. Bring it close to your nose and concentrate on any scents you can detect. Does it smell sweet or perhaps earthy? Has this triggered your taste buds?

TASTE the raisin. Place it in your mouth. Don’t chew yet; just spend some time concentrating on how it feels on your tongue. Notice its texture. Take a bite without swallowing it yet. Fix your mind on the sensations just released into your mouth. How does it taste?

HEAR the sounds you make as you chew it and swallow.

3. Mindful Seeing

The Mindful Seeing exercise is one of many simple exercises you can do to help you find your way out of depression.

1. Find a window where there are sights to be seen and gaze out.

2. Try to see the world outside the window from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with these sights. Don’t label what you see; instead of thinking ‘bird’ or ‘tree’ try to notice the colors, patterns, shapes, textures and movement.

3. Be observant, but not critical. Be aware, but not fixated.

4. If you become distracted, gently pull your mind away from those thoughts and refocus on your gaze.

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