Bringing a group of people together for any purpose can come with challenges. Getting and keeping the attention of everyone in the room can sometimes feel impossible. Mindfulness exercises for groups help to regain focus, remove the power of distractions, and rein in the people to be able to produce the needed results.
Mindfulness Practice Exercises
Practicing mindfulness exercises for groups is actually very different than doing it alone or on your own with one other person. Groups of people can have different struggles, such as remaining quiet, not worrying about what others in the room think, or being able to focus.
When using mindfulness for groups, take care to be gentle but firm with the way you give instructions so that everyone will feel included and want to participate, without feeling coerced. If your group is new to the idea, introduce the concept of mindfulness and help the group to understand the benefits before trying to practice any of the exercises. This will give a little bit of “why” behind the “what” so that the people in the group can better understand what you are hoping to accomplish with your mindfulness exercises.
Remember that the point of practicing mindfulness is to pay attention to the world (inside and outside of yourself) in a certain way. Your group should seek to pay attention in the present moment, with purpose, and without judgment. These can be done creatively and with a great deal of fun!
5 Fun Mindfulness Exercises for Groups
Groups can use mindfulness exercises to promote being present in the moment, reducing social anxiety by prescribing tasks, getting people to work effectively together as a team, and developing communication skills critical for life. Most of these can be performed in larger groups, but some are meant for breathing up into pairs.
Listen and Draw
This is a simple mindfulness exercise for groups who are aiming to link personal awareness with mindful communication. Start by printing out images, cutting them from magazines or even using a collection of photographs. You’ll also need blank paper and pencils or pens for drawing.
Pair Off into Twos
Have one person choose an image and describe it to the other person in detail. While the one person is describing, the other should be trying to draw what the first person is describing. This exercise allows for awareness of how well people communicate and also how mindful and attentive people are at listening.
Another option for staying in a large group is for one person to do the describing while the rest of the people attempt to draw what is described. Then compare the drawings to see how people heard things differently or drew them differently. (Of course, comparing drawing skills is not the point of the exercise and should be avoided.)
Noting Out Loud
The process of simply being aware of and noting what is happening at a given moment can be fun in a group. While we all often carry with us an inner dialogue, we have the power to circumvent it by becoming mindful of the here and now.
Sit the group in a circle. Begin by taking note out loud anything that you are seeing, hearing, thinking, or feeling. Try to keep it short by saying “I am noticing…..” and then fill in the blank. Continue around the circle so that everyone gets an opportunity to speak. When it’s not your turn to speak, be sure to listen to what other people are saying that you might not have been aware of. It’s a great way to learn to observe and to listen without consequences or judgment. It’s also a great way for a group to get to know each other better by learning how others in the group function and think.
This exercise allows participants to focus on listening to the person ahead of them and then connect it to their turn. Everyone should sit in a circle. The first person calls out the name of a famous person and then pointing to the next person who should take a turn. The next person should name a person whose first name begins with the same letter as the last name of the previous person.
For instance, the first person begin with “George Washington” and points to another person. Person 2 says, “Winston Churchill” and points to another person. Person 3 shouts, “Carly Simon”. And so forth. The game should go on until everyone has had a few turns or until someone can’t seem to think of a name that fits the criteria. Listening, mindfulness, and attention are skills learned in this activity.
This exercise requires a great amount of listening and concentration. Sit in a circle. The beginning person starts by making a sound, rhythm or beat. The second person repeats the previous beat and then adds their own. The third person repeats after the person in front of them and it continues on. If someone can’t repeat the beats in front of them properly, they are “out” and can try to distract others from getting the beat. This is a great exercise in learning how to focus on one thing: the pattern of the beat.
For this activity you’ll need enough pieces of the same type of fruit for each person in the room to have one. Give each person an apple (or orange, whatever you choose). Allow them around 5 minutes to spend time observing the fruit. Note its shape, color variations, oddities or spots. Now collect the fruit into one bowl and mix them up. If there aren’t many people in the group, add a few stray pieces of fruit. Now see if each person can identify their own piece of fruit.
This exercise promotes a deep attention and strong connection to the details of what is happening on the present moment.
Mindfulness exercises aid individuals and groups in dealing with problems and issues in a more effective manner. The regular practice of mindfulness builds focus, reduces distractions, and allows groups to function more effectively whether working on a project or trying to heal from an illness. Just like a physically fit body is more productive, your brain also needs to be trained. Awareness and attentiveness are learned skills that, with practice, can create better and more productive lives for anyone who intentionally engages in them.