Fun Mindfulness exercises for groups
by Janette Grant 2nd December 2017
Research has shown that mindfulness practise increases well-being, reduces reactivity, and improves behavioural regulation. Fun mindfulness exercises for groups can be exactly that – fun – not some new-age chanting fad! Scientific studies has shown that it can also be helpful for children and students, giving an increased ability to pay attention, achieve better grades and decrease stress levels. We go into more detail on our Mindfulness for teenagers and adolescents page
General, fun mindfulness exercises for groups
Here are a few exercises to encourage mindfulness. It’s always best to talk about mindfulness prior to the exercise, as it may be better to engage the group and help them understand easier, rather than just launching into the exercise. This page will help to explain the theory behind mindfulness.
- Mindful eating – we have covered this in great detail on our Chocolate mindfulness post and the exercise can be followed on there. It is also called the raisin exercise, simply because it is often practised with a raisin, but it can be used with any food and I thought it’d be great fun to try it with our advent calendars – so why not?! The exercise is one of mindful eating and incorporates the senses of seeing, smelling, tasting and physical and mental feeling. If preferred it is possible to ask the group just to bring along one small type of fruit they prefer to eat. Give it a try and see what you think!
- Out loud noting – this is the practise of simply noting what is happening in our experience. It can be practised individually, but it can also be a great, fun mindfulness exercise for groups. We can sit in a circle if possible, noting out loud things we are thinking, seeing, hearing or feeling in the body. There is no need to overcomplicate this, so try to keep it simple if possible. We can say ‘Right now I am noticing…’, which should help to keep it simple and help people to stay on track. We can continue around the circle with each person noting out loud anything that comes to mind. We can continue as long as we want, noting out loud what is happening and practising mindfulness of our experience. As we listen to others talking, we may become aware of new things to be mindful of and we are also practising mindful listening.
- Listening exercises in pairs – we do this unknowingly most days with our friends, family, work colleagues etc. Some of us are much better at listening than others, but it is a skill which can easily be developed. We need to ask people to partner up for this mindfulness exercise and it is better to encourage members of the group to choose someone they don’t know so well, as it can help to foster community and connection. It is really an exercise in both mindful speaking and listening. The person speaking should be mindful of what they’re saying; whether it’s true; and how vulnerable they are being. The person listening should practise just listening and noticing how it is to hear someone answering the questions and they should take it in turns asking and answering questions. Partner A will ask a question and Partner B answers it. Partner A says thank you and asks the question again. This repeats until time runs out (60-90 seconds is good to start with), and then switch roles. Ensure that the group understands that one partner should be asking repeatedly and the other answering repeatedly – it is not a back-and-forth exercise. Once the timer has run out, they switch roles and Partner B now asks the same question. Examples of some questions are: ‘What is something I may not know about you?’ ‘What is something that brings you joy?’ ‘What does happiness feel like?’ ‘What brings you anxiety?’ ‘What are your hopes?’ ‘What’s a quality you like about yourself?’
- Six Sense-doors – this is similar to the Out Loud Noting exercise, with a little extra thrown in! As with the noting practice, the group should sit in a circle and note what is going on in their experience. After noting what is going on, the person will then name one of the six sense-doors; seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, feeling, or thinking. To make it more simple the senses of smelling and tasting can be removed if required and just use the other four. Someone may start with ‘Right now I am noticing my breath…Hearing’ and then the next person must note something they are hearing. In naming a sense-door, it gives the next person a specific experience to notice and keeps the group on their toes. When we don’t know what sense-door we going to have, it’s harder to get stuck in our head planning what we’re going to say and it may also prompt us to be mindful of something of which we’re not usually mindful.
- ‘Beats’ listening game – this is another listening game, which needs full attention to be able to familiarise ourself with the sounds around us. This is a perfect fun mindfulness exercise for groups, which makes the group ignore distractions and focus on the beats in the pattern. The group should form a circle and the first person starts by making a sound, beat or rhythm, which is then repeated by the next person with an added beat. We then go around the circle with each person repeating and then adding another sound. When a person misses a beat, they will be out and should then attempt to distract the remaining people. This can be great fun and trains the mind to focus on one thing – shutting out everything else and focusing on the pattern of the beat; not the person creating the sound; nor the people removed who are trying to be distracting; just instead only focusing on the beat.
- Attentive game – this is an exercise which is suited to children as well as adults and whilst it may at first appear childish and simple, the faster the pace becomes, the more it requires to pay attention! The game is called ‘Shout a name’ and everyone should be in the circle as usual. The first person starts by shouting the name of a famous person and pointing to another group member. Person 2 then has to shout the name of another famous person whose first name begins with the first letter of the last name of the previously mentioned famous person, e.g Person 1: Chris Evans…Person 2: Emma Watson…Person 3: Will Smith etc.
Practising these fun mindfulness exercises for groups will quickly enable us to deal with everyday problems in a faster, calmer and more planned-out way. Cultivating our awareness to our surroundings will help us to cope and adapt to any situation easier. And that has to be a good thing, right?!