Here are 3 very effective Mindfulness Exercises for Groups and Couples, that are fun to do and engaging!
I often use these exercises in my workshops as warm up sessions and for the participants to land in the space. They are easy to do and create mindfulness and astonishing depth between people quickly!
So here you go!
Preparation for the Exercises
Before you start with the actual exercises, you may want to decide on how long you are going to do them, in order to set a clear space for the practices. In my workshops I usually do the individual exercises for 5-10min each. You can also do them for longer and the presence and depth you can create between people increase over time, but I’d recommend not to overdo it in your first go!
Find a comfortable position in which you can sit facing your partner for some time. Also, check that the distance between the two of you feels good for both.
If you want to do these exercises in a group you can also come together in pairs for one exercise and then switch partners for the next exercise and so on. You can also to multiple rounds of one exercise, so you can experience how different people bring up different things in you. You can be mindful with all of these reactions and get an even clearer image of your inner workings, than when you only do the exercises with one person.
Short individual Mindfulness-Meditation
Before beginning the exercises, take some minutes to come into a relaxed state of mind. You do not have to achieve any specific state of meditation to be able to do these exercises! A short meditation on what’s currently present for you, will be more than enough to dive into the exercises and get the most out of them.
First bring your attention to your body:
- What do you sense in your body right now?
- What sensations are you registering in your body?
- What region of your body takes up the most attention?
- Are there regions of you body you cannot really sense?
- Are there regions of tension and relaxation?
You do not have to force yourself to concentrate here, or to really try to sense regions of your body that are hard to feel. Just direct a relaxed attention on your body and see what body sensations naturally and spontaneously come into your awareness!
You also don’t need to change anything that you are sensing and feeling. Just observe whatever is present for you without doing anything about it. Maybe there’s pain in your belly. Or your legs feel cold. Can you just stay present with these sensations, as well as with the comfortable ones?
Bring your attention to your feelings:
- How do you feel right now?
- Can you perceive your feelings within you or in the surrounding space?
- How do you feel in the space itself / in relation to the outer world?
Again, there’s nothing to change here. Just observe how you are feeling and – as far as possible for you – let yourself sink into your experience of what is already present.
Then bring your attention to your thoughts:
- What thoughts are moving through you?
- Are there expectations?
- Do you have any imaginations of what’s going to happen?
- Do you have stories about yourself or your partner?
You can just observe how your thoughts are forming and dissolving. There’s no need to reach a state of ‘non-mind’ / not thinking!
When you take some time to check in with yourself like this, you can find yourself in a state that is relaxed and attentive at the same time. The experience of ‘not having to change/do something’ can become an anchor within you, that brings you into your Center. You are mindfully present with everything that is
And even if you are not in such a state you can still do and enjoy these 3 mindfulness exercises 😉
1. Exercise: Eye-Contact Meditation (Pure Witnessing)
After you have done the short meditation you can now open your eyes and come into eye-contact with your partner sitting opposite you. While you are holding the eye-contact with your partner, observe what is happening within you!
What is happening in your system, when you are being looked in the eyes by your partner – and you are looking into his/her eyes?
What’s happening on the level of body sensations?
The level of feelings and emotion?
What’s going on in your mind?
Where’s your center? Are you more with yourself or more with the other?
Do not talk for this first exercise! Only witness what is happening within yourself and in connection with the other.
This Eye-Gazing in a meditative state of witnessing can bring a great deal of insight into how you are functioning in connection with others. You naturally become more mindful by allowing whatever is arising in you and in connection with the other to be seen and felt. There’s no need to change anything. Presence can settle in and take you into an experience of truly seeing somebody else – and truly being seen by someone else.
This can also be very vulnerable! If the eye-contact is getting too much for you, just close your eyes for a moment and relax back into yourself.
The Benefit of this Exercise:
- Mindfulness is trained and enhanced through the observation of body sensations, feelings and thought in the focus of the eye-contact with a partner.
- The exercise is a wonderful way to witness how much is happening in contact with others, and how often these things go unnoticed. You learn to stay present and mindful with everything moving you.
- The exercise can enhance your curiosity about the other person, and what they are experiencing in connection with you.
2. Exercise: Sharing your Experience (Noticing)
Sit facing each other again. In a group you can switch partners for each exercise!
For the second mindfulness exercise, you can start to name what is happening in you and bring that into the contact with the other person. Everything that you only witnessed in the first exercise can now be put into words and shared with your partner.
When I lead a Circling workshop, I encourage the participants to use sentences like ‘I notice…’ / ‘I feel…’ / ‘I observe…’
For example: ‘I notice that my attention is mainly in my belly’
‘I notice a slight twitching in my legs’
‘I feel a subtle sadness around my eyes’
‘I observe that my awareness is more with you than with myself’
Name the obvious! You do not have to search for things to say. Just put words to what is the most alive in your experience right now. If there’s nothing that stands out for you, say nothing and see if something comes up.
When you want to become more mindful, what you are training is your capacity to be present and aware of what is already happening within and around you. First witnessing and then putting words to what is happening can bring a great deal of presence into you experience. Having a partner who does the exercise with you makes it easier and even more powerful.
Sharing what is happening in you can also be vulnerable! Maybe you notice things within you, which you rather wouldn’t share. Make sure ahead of the exercise that there is a clear container for the exercise (time limit), and that you are clear about talking afterwards: Nothing you share in the exercise has to be explained. There’s nothing to change – or even understand – here. Its only about witnessing and becoming more aware of what is already present!
The Benefit of this Exercise:
- This exercise invites authenticity, through the sharing of sensations, feelings and thoughts. Instead of trying to evoke a certain image of ourselves in the other person, we share what is happening from moment to moment. This allows for real connection between us.
- Mindfulness is very hard – if not impossible – to maintain, when there are sensations, feelings and thoughts that we try to repress or hide. Through this exercise you can experience another kind of connection, where the authentic sharing of what is already present creates more depth and mindfulness for both of you.
3. Exercise: The World of the Other (Imagination)
In this third mindfulness exercise you can bring your stories about your partner into the connection!
What we think, assume and imagine about others is something we do not often share with them. This is because we often do not know how much of what we think of others is actually true and how much is just our own projections. Plus, these stories about others most often come with some sort of judgment, that we rather not bring into connection. Or if we do, it is pretty far away from a mindful sharing.
But there is a possibility to even share our stories about others, in a way that creates more connection and understanding – and more mindfulness – instead of hurt and distance!
To be mindful means to be present and aware of everything going on in the Here and Now. And so our perception and interpretation of the other is something central and important to be aware of – and mindful about.
So for this exercise, sit face-to-face with your partner again and relax into whatever you’re experiencing at the moment. Focus this time on what you perceive from the other person and what is happening within you as you put your attention on them. See if a story comes up. Or something that catches your eye. Do you sense how they feel? What kind of person do you think they are?
When some imagination about your partner comes up, put it into words! Use sentences again, that make it clear that this is your story!
‘I imagine, seeing a sadness in you eyes’
‘My attention goes to your hands and I assume there’s something going on with them’
‘I think you are a person who wants to be seen as strong’
Again: Name the obvious. You don’t have to search for something to say about your partner. If something comes up, name it. If nothing comes, wait and observe.
When your partner shares a story they have about you, see how it lands with you! You may want to make it more precise, deny it or accept it as true and you may very well do so. But first take some time to just observe how what has been shared lands for you.
Like this you do not only get a wonderful insight into what this other person perceives in you, by replying to what has been shared you also give the other person the possibility of a ‘reality-check’ on their assumptions. What is perception and what is interpretation becomes more clearly distinct. And by not taking our stories about others for face value, but actually checking them with the people concerned, we can let go of fixed ideas and move more easily with whatever is present. We become more present! More mindful!
The Benefit of this Exercise:
- When you bring your stories about others into contact with them and allow for feedback, projections and judgments are more easily recognized and dissolved. Our sharing then leads to more connection and depth in the relationship. We become mindful in all facets of relating
- Everything can be brought into contact! Its only a matter of attitude and openness. Being able to speak about our perceptions of others in a constructive way leads to more relaxation in connection. Being present and mindful becomes more and more easy!
Mindfulness in Connection – Being fully human
Becoming more mindful is an ongoing process in which we can support each other. Being mindful is that much more easy, when there are people surrounding us, who are also mindful and present!
These exercises are easy to do and can become a very powerful tool, if done often!
When you come to a Circling Workshop, you will see how these exercises are the perfect warm-up for even more dynamic and fun mindfulness practices!
Have fun becoming more mindful! 🙂
Leave a comment and let me know what you think!