Mindfulness is something that can help everyone. Whereas you can practice mindfulness alone it can also be extremely beneficial when practised in groups. Mindfulness exercises for groups bring people together to live in the moment. Whether you wish to practice being in the present, or work to resolve a pain point mindfulness is a technique worth exploring.
Daily life has a habit of causing us to lose track and the mind can wander. Sometimes, gaining focus is a challenge for many and meditation and mindfulness techniques are proven to help provide tools to be in the present, improve wellness and clinical studies also talk to the therapeutic qualities7.
The benefits of mindfulness have formed the basis of many scientific studies pointing to a range of positive outcomes8. Since the early history of mindfulness in the East, through to growing awareness and popularity, more and more people now have the opportunity to practice mindfulness.
So, whether you are looking to improve your focus, achieve more or feel at peace with your surroundings, mindfulness will bring you back to the present moment. When looking to develop your mindfulness exercises in groups can be a great way to experience mindfulness and grow with other people. There are activities, techniques and creative exercises, all of which can be done in groups. You’ll meet people to share the journey with, have fun and learn from each other.
This might feel as though it is an exercise aimed at children. Despite this, it is a great way of bringing people into the moment. Balloons are a lot of fun and we tend to forget that as adults.
Once the balloons have been blown up, the group works together to stop them from hitting the floor. Balloon play focuses on concentration and brings people into the moment that they find themselves in.
Colouring books might be synonymous with children but adult colouring books are a brilliant way of practising mindfulness in a group2. Each person in the group can colour in a certain section, all it takes is a book and some pencils and the group can get started. This is an exercise that requires a level of focus while the concentration will enable participants to experience a presence of mind. And everyone gets to express their creativity. Who knows, together you might create a masterpiece.
Dancing makes us feel good and it is a great activity to enjoy with others4. Mindful dancing can prove both more beneficial and a lot of fun when done in a group. It is not about being good at dancing but instead, it is about living in the moment and listening to the music and the sounds around you. You can focus on your breathing and indulge the mind and body in this rich mindfulness exercise.
The aim of this exercise is to work in pairs. Participants can then concentrate on what their partner is saying as opposed to thinking about how they plan to respond. To get the most from this, it works best if pairs are made up of people who do not know each other. This can help to create a togetherness while ensuring that participants really do listen.
One partner will ask a question and the other actively listen to what they are saying. The other partner should listen to the question and how it sounds. Partners then have to switch around asking questions and answering them. Again, this is not about the questions and answers but more about active and mindful listening.
The pairs must understand that one partner has to repeatedly ask a question. The other has to repeatedly answer before they switch and ask the same questions again.
Mindful eating is another mindfulness exercise groups. This time every group member will need to pay attention to what they are eating. Mindful eating is also a useful activity for those who suffer from eating disorders3.
As each group member is given a certain food, they can then begin to explain how that makes them feel. There are taste and smell to think about as well as the texture. Whatever it might be, focusing on what they are eating and sharing with the group provides a tool to help develop presence of mind.
The beats listening game incorporates mindfulness and is perfect for those in groups. The goal of this exercise is for individuals to become familiar with the sounds around them. As such, the group must avoid distractions and pay attention to the beats.
In a circle, the first person makes a sound which can be a beat or a rhythm. The next person repeats the sound but with an added beat. This moves around the group with each person adding a sound. If a beat is missed, they are out of the exercise.
The beats listening game helps to train the mind so that it can focus on a single thing. It also helps participants to remove or ignore distractions while concentrating on the beat and their patterns.
This exercise comes from Buddhist teaching and how we experience the world through six gateways. Every moment we come across involves an experience. It is these experiences that enter our awareness via the six senses5. The six senses include seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and the mind. The mind-door is the door that links to our thoughts, mental images and emotions.
To carry out this exercise, the group should position themselves in a circle. Then each person has to say what they are thinking, feeling, hearing and seeing at that moment in time. Once all members have understood what is happening, the individual will then name one of the six sense doors.
So, someone might say that they can hear the birds and name the sense as hearing. The next person will then have to identify something that they can hear.
Therefore, this exercise prevents people from thinking about what they want to say in advance. Waiting for the person to name their sense-door encourages focus and listening. Along with this, they have to be mindful of what is around them.
It is true that many of us fail to listen to what our bodies are telling us. Therefore, the body scan activity is perfect to do as a group. This mindfulness exercise can help us to slow down. Along with this, it enables us to reconnect with our bodies.
This is an exercise that will require a quiet setting. It should be free from distractions and have enough space for participants to lie down. A guide is required for this exercise as they can help the group to scan certain areas of the body using their awareness.
To begin participants will need to get comfortable in a lying down position. It is a position that should be comfortable enough to stay in for around twenty minutes.
The first step begins with the guide helping the group to focus on a chosen part of their body. Using mindful breathing, they should focus, remain still and relaxed.
Now that they have a focus on their breath, the guide can ask them to become aware of how their body feels. They should notice pains or soreness or even how their skin feels in contact with their clothing . After they have held this awareness for a couple of minutes, the body scan can start.
Now the guide will tell the group to focus on a specific area of their body. For example, this could be the hands or toes. They will then need to keep their focus on this single area of the body for a minute or two before they move on to the next area. It is important that the guide informs the group to wait before moving on to a new body part.
After the entire body has been scanned, the guide will tell the group to focus on their breathing again. Participants will feel relaxed energy within the room and so, the breathing will make them feel good. At this point, the guide can ask them to take note of how they are feeling, especially if they are feeling different to how they were when they started the exercise
Once the exercise is over, the group can discuss the experience. They can share their feelings and what they thought about the exercise.
Mindfulness is becoming more popular. It is recognised in the workplace and more people are taking time out to practise it6. Each of the above group exercises will help participants practice mindfulness, which either together or alone presents many positives.
Many different types of groups now use mindfulness techniques. For example, it is now even being used in everything from groups of men with advanced prostate cancer1 while people suffering from other forms of cancer are finding that it also benefits them.
Mindfulness enables people to become more aware of themselves. With this self-awareness comes an understanding of who we are. It removes any influences from the outside world while giving people the opportunity to feel in control.
Similarly, it brings with it an element of clarity and focus while removing fears, anger and doubts. It shows us that the mind can wander and that we have the ability to bring it back. By picking up on feelings, sensations and more, it shows us what we often miss out on in life.
We all lead busy lives and with this comes a lack of focus. We fail to recognise what is around us as we race around to meetings or picking up the children from school. Mindfulness has the ability to show you how to feel at peace again. What’s more, the more frequently you practise it, the more you can use it.
So, when you find that things are getting too much or you need to simply stop, then mindfulness can help you to find clarity of moments of madness. The best thing about it is that it can be as simple as sitting down, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing. That is all it takes.
|Chambers, S.K., Foley, E., Galt, E. et al. Mindfulness groups for men with advanced prostate cancer: a pilot study to assess feasibility and effectiveness and the role of peer support. Support Care Cancer 20, 1183–1192 (2012) doi:10.1007/s00520-011-1195-8|
|Adult colouring: the effect of app-based vs. pen-and-paper colouring on mindfulness and anxiety. Michail Mantzios, Hafsah Hussain, Amirah Hussain, Helen Egan, Paraic Scanlon. health psychology report 2019|
|Natasha S. Hepworth (2010) A Mindful Eating Group as an Adjunct to Individual Treatment for Eating Disorders: A Pilot Study, Eating Disorders, 19:1, 6-16, DOI: 10.1080/10640266.2011.533601|
|Cynthia Quiroga Murcia, Gunter Kreutz, Stephen Clift & Stephan Bongard (2010) Shall we dance? An exploration of the perceived benefits of dancing on well-being, Arts & Health, 2:2, 149-163, DOI: 10.1080/17533010903488582|
|The Clinical Use of Mindfulness Meditation Techniques in Short-term Psychotherapy. Gary Deatherage, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada|
|Bringing Mindfulness to the Workplace. By: Kimberly Schaufenbuel, Program Director, UNC Executive Development. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School.|
|Marlatt, G. A., & Kristeller, J. L. (1999). Mindfulness and meditation. In W. R. Miller (Ed.), Integrating spirituality into treatment: Resources for practitioners (p. 67–84). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/10327-004|
|Shapiro, S.L., Carlson, L.E., Astin, J.A. and Freedman, B. (2006), Mechanisms of mindfulness. J. Clin. Psychol., 62: 373-386. doi:10.1002/jclp.20237|