When you think of the term ‘mindfulness’, what do you think of?
Most of us would imagine formal mindfulness meditation, evoking silence, stillness, and focused attention.
This image is certainly indicative of what mindfulness can look like, but there are other forms that mindfulness might take.
Fun mindfulness activities for adults is another way to explore mindfulness in creative and inspiring ways.
From mindful drawing to mindful body talk, there is no shortage of creative mindfulness activities to explore.
But what makes a mindfulness activity different from regular activities?
And furthermore, what sorts of exercises might I consider?
What Are Mindfulness Activities?
The difference between a mindful activity and a regular activity is the quality of our attention. Mindfulness can be defined as:
paying sustained attention to our experience, from moment to moment.
For example, we can eat mindfully or not. Mindful eating involves being present with each bite, with how our body feels as we eat, and with anything else that arises during the process.
Regular eating, on the other hand, does not require this type of attention.
Furthermore, mindfulness activities offer us unique ways to become more present.
Formal meditation might not be for everyone and even those who meditate formally commonly enjoy practicing mindfulness in creative ways as well.
Fun mindfulness activities for adults can be shared with the entire family, adapted to suit different ages and interests as needed.
12 Fun Mindfulness Activities for Adults
If you are looking for ways to be more mindful beyond formal meditation, consider these quick and easy mindfulness exercises.
These include activities that you can practice on your own, with a partner, or with a group.
You can explore each of these for as little or as long a time as you would like.
Furthermore, they can be practiced in a variety of different contexts, such as at home, while on a personal retreat, or even in the workplace.
One of the most common mindfulness activities outside of formal meditation is mindful eating (or mindful munching). Since many of us don’t typically offer our food the fullness of our attention while eating, this is a fun exercise that can shift the way you think about a particular food and the daily habit of eating. To practice, choose a small item of food, such as a cracker, a raisin, a piece of clementine, or a piece of dark chocolate. Once you have chosen your food, begin to investigate it with your senses of smell, touch, sound, and sight. Spend one full minute exploring your food in this way before slowly raising it to your lips and taking one small bite. Chew slowly and mindfully, refraining from taking another bite until you have swallowed the first. As you move through this process, be mindful of what you observe about the food itself, what you notice about your body (such as hunger cues or lack thereof), and anything else that stands out to you. When you finish the practice, share your experience with a friend or spend some time journaling about what you observed. Try the practice again with a different item of food next time. This is also a fun activity to explore with children.
Mindful Mandala Coloring
Another fun and calming mindfulness activity for adults is mindful drawing. There are many ways to draw mindfully, one of which is mandala coloring. A mandala is a geometric configuration of shapes and symbols that is often used in spiritual practice. Mandala coloring exercises offer mandala templates that can be colored in as one desires. To color mindfully, offer the mandala and the coloring process your full attention. Notice what colors you feel drawn to, what the various shapes stir within you, and how it feels to focus your attention on this exercise. This is a wonderful practice to explore either alone or with another as it can create quiet space for deeper insights to arise.
Five Senses Exercise
Of the many quick and easy mindfulness exercises to consider, the five senses practice is one of the quickest. It is something we can do at any moment as it is simply an invitation to consider: What can I see right now? What can I smell? What can I hear? What can I touch or feel? What can I taste? If you are practicing this with another person or within a group, invite each participant to write down their answers to each of these questions. Note that you can write down multiple observations for each sense. Then, share openly. It is interesting to note how many different things can be observed by different people in the same setting.
Painting Your Inner World
Along the same lines of mindful drawing is mindful painting. To paint your inner world, all you need is a blank sheet of paper or canvas, a brush, and basic paints. The invitation is to paint whatever thoughts or emotions you are currently experiencing. Without using words, how can you express what is present inside of you? This activity is both insightful and invaluable as it can enhance emotional awareness. Consider practicing mindful painting during different moods, observing what comes up in relation to different emotions and feelings.
Mindful Body Talk
Another common mindfulness practice is the body scan meditation. In a traditional body scan practice, you guide your attention through different regions of your body with mindful awareness. Typically, this practice begins at the top of the head or the toes and moves in a linear fashion throughout the body. Mindful body talk takes the standard body scan meditation a step further. As you scan the body, drawing awareness to different organs, muscles, and limbs, you can ask yourself: What does this body part need from me right now? For example, perhaps your head needs a reminder to relax and let go. Perhaps your heart needs a reminder to soften. Perhaps your belly wishes for you to place a loving hand on it. Please note that this exercise can bring up challenging emotions as many of our emotions are connected to different parts of the body. Practice this with patience, love, and care.
Mindful Listening With A Partner
If you are exploring mindfulness with another person, consider a simple mindful listening exercise. To practice, take turns being the listener and being the speaker. When it is each speaker’s turn to share, set a timer for three minutes. Within those three minutes, the speaker can answer a simple question such as: What was a time in your life that you felt most alive? When the speaker is sharing, the listener pays full attention. When the timer rings, the listener can repeat back all the details they remember from what the speaker shared. Repeat this exercise while taking on the opposite role. This exercise can be both fun and insightful. It can remind us what it is like to offer someone the fullness of our attention. Additionally, it can improve our relationships as it leads to the feeling of being truly heard.
Another fun mindfulness exercise is to dive into the body while dancing. We can dance without paying much attention to our bodies, but mindful dancing requires us to notice the way that we move. Noticing is not about analyzing or judging; it is simply a practice of being present to the natural flow and rhythm of our unique body. To practice, choose a song that inspires you – that makes you want to dance and move. Turn it on, close your eyes, and notice what your body wants to do. If judgmental or resistant thoughts arise, acknowledge them with compassion and then let them go. Continually come back to your body, noticing what different movements feel like for you. When the song ends, remain standing and keep your eyes closed. Take a few moments to scan your body, noticing what it now feels like after having returned to stillness.
Attuning to Nature
Furthermore, a simple walk or hike can easily be turned into an insightful mindfulness activity. To attune to nature, we simply need to open up our senses. So, during your next nature escape, take a few moments to quiet your mind and to open your awareness to what you can see, hear, feel, and smell. You might bring along the following reflection questions – and, you might even write your answers down in a journal: What colors are predominant in this environment? What elements, textures, or shapes stand out to me? What appears motionless in this environment and what is in motion? How does it feel to be here? What emotions or thoughts am I aware of? These are just a few of many different thoughtful questions you can ask. Ask these of yourself as you tune into your natural environment with reverence and curiosity.
For another fun partner exercise, consider eye gazing. Quite simply, eye gazing is a practice that invites us to focus our attention on the eyes of another. To practice, find a partner and set a timer for three to ten minutes. Until the timer rings, gaze into the eyes of the person in front of you. If this is your first time eye gazing, you might begin with a shorter practice. Remain focused, noticing simply what this feels like. This exercise can remind us of our shared humanity. Additionally, it can help to increase the bond we have with another person. Note that this practice can also bring up tears or discomfort as most of us are not used to looking so closely into the eyes of another.
For those that enjoy mindful reflection, the use of mindful journal prompts can be a fun activity to consider. Journaling is a powerful tool to enhance self-awareness, and by using mindful journal prompts, we are given a place to begin from. Some fun and insightful prompts you might consider include: In this moment, I am noticing… If I could be any animal, I would be… Three things I love about myself are… I feel most alive when I… If you are exploring this with a small group or a partner that you feel safe with, you might share your reflections once everyone has finished.
Another fun mindful drawing exercise for adults (and children alike) is that of sketching nature. Many people might argue, ‘But I’m not good at drawing!’, but this is not the point. Mindful sketching of something in our environment is not done because we are artists; it is because we are curious about the details of a plant, an animal, a rock, or something else. To explore this, head outside and find something that you’d like to sketch. Still objects work better than those in movement, especially for beginners. Find a comfortable place to sit and begin penciling out all the fine lines and details of this object in front of you. A leaf, a flower, or a unique stone are good objects to consider starting with.
Planting Seeds of Intention
Last but not least, planting seeds (literally and figuratively) is a down-to-earth and hands-on way of practicing mindfulness. All you need is a small pot (or a few), some soil, and a few seeds of a soon-to-be plant that you can grow easily at home. If you do not have a pot, you can upcycle any old containers that you have at your disposal (ensuring that drainage is possible). Plant your seeds mindfully, paying attention to the feel and smell of the soil and to what it feels like to offer these small seeds your full presence. As you plant them, consider what intention you’d like to plant along with them. Nourish your plants each day, along with any intentions that you set.
Mindfulness is not inherent to any particular action or activity. Rather, it is a quality that we can bring to anything that we do.
Use these quick and easy mindfulness exercises as a place to begin broadening your exploration of mindfulness.
Wherever you find yourself, no matter what you are doing, grant each activity your full, open attention and discover what arises.