Mindfulness exercises allow you to be able to identify, tolerate and reduce difficult, painful and even frightening thoughts, feelings and sensations. Mindfulness gives you back some sense of mastery over our thoughts and feelings. Rather than having the sense that you are being pushed around by your feelings and thoughts you learn to be able to have some agency over them.

mindfulness exercises

So what is mindfulness? Below are some definitions:

  • The awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment (Kabat-Zinn, 2003).
  • The non-judgmental observation of the ongoing stream of internal and external stimuli as they arise (Baer, 2003).
  • Keeping one’s complete attention to the experience on a moment to moment basis (Martlett & Kristeller, 1999).

Put simply, mindfulness is as simple as becoming aware of your here and now experience, both internally and in the external world around you. It gives you a space in the present moment to be able to more safely deal with the distressing and painful memories of things that might have happened to you in the past. It also allows you to look at and plan for the future, even when you might have fearful thoughts about things that haven’t yet happened, from a secure position of knowing that you are in the present moment. In fact, we are never NOT in the present moment – we just lose track of that fact quite often.

Sometimes it is easier to understand something in terms of what it is not. Here are some examples of mindLESSness:

The opposite of mindfulness: Mindlessness

  • Breaking things, spilling things, clumsiness, or accidents due to carelessness, inattention or thinking about something else.
  • Failing to notice subtle or not-so-subtle feelings of physical discomfort, pain, tension, etc.
  • Forgetting someone’s name as soon as you hear it.
  • Listening to someone with one ear while doing something else at the same time.
  • Getting so focused on goals that you lose touch with what you are doing right now.
  • Getting lost in your thoughts and feelings, daydreaming, or being “a million miles away.”
  • Being preoccupied with the future or the past.
  • Eating without being aware of eating; looking down at your plate and thinking “gosh, where did my meal go?”
  • Driving somewhere slightly different than usual and suddenly realising you’ve automatically started the route to your workplace.
  • Having periods of time where you have difficulty remembering the details of what happened – running on autopilot.
  • Reacting emotionally in certain ways – feeling like an emotion just “came out of nowhere.”
  • Planning or thinking of other things when doing chores.
  • Doing several things at once rather than focusing on one thing at a time.
  • Distracting yourself with things like eating, alcohol, pornography, drugs, work.

If you do some or even most of these things at times, then you are probably a normal member of the human race! However they do indicate a disconnect from the now, from awareness, and from being “in the present moment.”

Mindfulness exercises

We have provided a number of downloadable mindfulness strategies in this section. These pages include audio mindfulness exercises you can download, and also PDF files you can read over. You can download them to a CD or straight to an iPod or MP3 player. Use the ones that seem most helpful to you. After using the recordings for a while you may find that it is easier to just practice mindfulness without them. You might find you are developing your own mindfulness strategies that work well for you.

  1. Introduction
  2. Mindfulness of the External World
  3. Eating Mindfulness
  4. Walking Mindfulness
  5. Breathing Mindfulness
  6. Body Scan
  7. External World and Breath
  8. Mindfulness of Thoughts
  9. Thoughts, Body Sensations and Emotions
  10. Compassion Mindfulness
  11. Mountain Meditation
  12. Alternate Nostril Breathing
  13. Mindfulness of Physical Discomfort
  14. Mindfulness of Difficult/Painful Thoughts
  15. Empty Bowl Meditation

Note: We would like to express our appreciation to Kent Smith and Janine Hills for the development of these valuable resources. Should anyone wish to purchase a complete CD of these Mindfulness Exercises, please contact us with a return email address and we will pass your enquiry on to Kent.

Another great website discussing the value of Mindfulness is Jim Hopper’s page on Mindfulness and Kindness at www.jimhopper.com/mindfulness.


  1. Comment by Linda

    Linda Reply June 20, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    quero compartilhar em meu facebook

  2. Comment by Anonymous

    Anonymous Reply June 20, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Really grateful for these exercises – finding them very helpful

  3. Comment by Anonymous

    Anonymous Reply June 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    The exercises are very helpful. I will definitely be sharing them. Just what I was looking for.

  4. Comment by yesand

    yesand Reply June 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    What a wonderful resource and contribution to the development and enhancement of mental health.

  5. Comment by Anonymous

    Anonymous Reply June 20, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Is it possible to have written handouts of these audios as I find that reading them to participants is sometimes better received than listening to an anonymous voice?

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply June 20, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      We have included a PDF worksheet for each mindfulness exercise. Although the attached worksheets may not be an exact transcript of the mp3 audio file, they will hopefully provide sufficient material for reading and adapting to the group’s needs. All the best from the team at Living Well.

  6. Comment by J Duncan

    J Duncan Reply June 20, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    I love these exercises! I use them to teach mindfulness to anxious teenagers. They have really enjoyed it and have displayed a reduction in stress levels and a greater sense of peace within themselves. I also love the handouts as it gives them the opportunity to practice on their own. I will use these exercises again and again! Thank you!

  7. Comment by Julie

    Julie Reply June 28, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    These are excellent exercises. Great that they are concise and on one sheet to print and also have the MP3 versions. Thankyou!

  8. Comment by Wesley

    Wesley Reply August 26, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Great exercises for mindful living. We can’t change what we don’t see, so learning to see with greater attention to detail and to deploy our attention with greater nuance and care is a very powerful art that I enjoy writing about myself. Good job!

  9. Comment by Jean Rees

    Jean Rees Reply September 18, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    I would like to purchase the cd of mindfulness exercises

  10. Comment by Ben

    Ben Reply March 3, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Hi , I use a mac and right clicking > save as just downloads a html file not mp3. How do we get the mp3s please?

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply August 21, 2015 at 11:33 am

      The links have been updated and should now start to download when you click. Thanks :)

  11. Comment by bree

    bree Reply August 11, 2015 at 11:43 am

    thank you so much

  12. Comment by Georgia

    Georgia Reply February 11, 2016 at 1:19 am

    I am in my mid-twenties and found these exercises really helpful. The hustle and bustle of everyday life often all gets a bit too much so its really great to find some exercises that really focus on controlling our mind and thoughts to make us happier people. Thank you!

  13. Comment by Sandra

    Sandra Reply February 11, 2016 at 11:04 am

    Meu inglês é nível básico ainda é está ruim, será que tem a versão em português???


    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply February 11, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Apologies Sandra, we only have these exercises in English.

  14. Comment by Alexandra

    Alexandra Reply March 7, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    You´re amazing for sharing these tools. Thank you very much.
    I´m a fan.
    A deep chackra hug!

  15. Comment by Shannon

    Shannon Reply April 3, 2016 at 10:08 am

    This information is really helpful. I will be sharing with my friends. Thank you!

  16. Comment by Gabriela

    Gabriela Reply October 8, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Why can’t I download the audio files? The links lead to an error page.

    • Comment by Jess [Living Well Staff]

      Jess [Living Well Staff] Reply October 13, 2016 at 7:15 pm

      Thanks Gabriela for letting us know. I’ll look into this and will have it fixed as soon as possible.

  17. Comment by maria

    maria Reply October 22, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    thanks a lot

  18. Comment by Paul

    Paul Reply November 8, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    I am so mindless with my pain and thoughts I feel like a hamster for retention of anything

  19. Comment by wendy davies

    wendy davies Reply March 27, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    I would love a CD as I don’t know how to down load and don’t have MP3 whatever that is.

  20. Comment by Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Reply March 8, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    Thank you for these exercises. I have used one or two every day for the past 3 weeks and I can feel the difference. They are very helpful and I would highly recommend them.

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