9 Mindfulness Group Activities for Adults
Getting into meditation and mindfulness can be a lot easier if you have a healthy group to practice your new healthy habits with. If you are looking for ways to create a mindfulness practice routine, there are some great tools out there for you and your friends to use.
You might have noticed that people do things in groups. It is only natural!
We are social creatures, and we can learn a lot from practicing just about anything with like-minded people.
From yoga classes to study groups, a communal atmosphere can help us progress faster than working alone. Mindfulness is no different, but you will need some new tools to make mindfulness group practice a part of your life.
If you are new to the idea of mindfulness, please take a minute to read about: 10-Minute Mindfulness, which is a very helpful book we put together to show people how easy it is to start practicing mindfulness in your daily life.
The good news is that any kind of mindfulness practice will help you grow your overall levels of awareness, regardless of whether you practice with a group, or on your own!
What You Will Learn
- Mindfulness Matters
- 9 Mindfulness Group Activities for Adults
- Activity #1: Body Scan
- Activity #2: Shared Self Compassion Session
- Activity #3: Mindful Snacking
- Activity #4: Coloring Book Party!
- Activity #5: Looking Out The Window Together
- Activity #6: Visit a Wonderful Feeling
- Activity #7: Mindful Listening Activities
- Activity #8: Group Dancing
- Activity #9: Balloon Play
In some ways, mindfulness and meditation are one and the same thing.
If you are thinking about meditation as sitting in the lotus position and chanting…well…that is just one kind of meditation. In truth, meditation can take on many forms, and some of the mindfulness activities we talk about below are forms of group meditation.
It is important to understand the overlaps between mindfulness and meditation because they will both create many of the same positive things in your body and life. Mindfulness has been shown by medical professionals to lower stress levels and promote a happier mental outlook.
There is a lot of stress in our modern lives, which has been linked to numerous medical conditions, including heart attacks and strokes. Mindfulness might be a relatively new idea in the West, but these group mindfulness activities can help you and your friends to gain from age-old Eastern stress-reduction techniques.
9 Mindfulness Group Activities for Adults
Think about what you did with your friends last week.
Maybe some drinks at a bar, or in someone’s apartment?
There is nothing wrong with blowing off some steam at your local watering hole, but you don’t want it to become a coping mechanism for stress. Here are some great group activities that can help you and your friends practice mindfulness, and learn new ways to live a happier, healthier life.
Some of these activities will require that one person in the group act as the ‘guide’. All this means they will have to focus on leading the group through the exercise.
The guide for these activities doesn’t need to be more experienced in mindfulness practice, just willing to keep track of what to do during the activity, and ready to help their friends through a mindfulness practice session!
Activity #1: Body Scan
It might seem a little bit strange, but most of us don’t listen to our bodies with the attention they deserve. The body scan is a great mindfulness group activity that helps us slow down, and reconnect with our physical vehicle.
It is a good idea to do this activity in a relaxed setting where it is possible to lay down comfortably. An apartment or home would be fine, but a natural space with soft grass would also be great. This mindfulness exercise will require a guide, who will be responsible for helping the group to progressively scan each area of their bodies with their awareness.
To begin the body scan, the group will find a comfortable position, such as laying on the floor or sitting in a chair. The position isn’t important, but it should be comfortable to hold for 20+ minutes.
Step ONE: Once everyone is in a comfy position, the guide will begin to help the group focus on a part of their bodies. The breath should be used as a way to establish initial focus, much like some forms of meditation. It is best to be still during this exercise and in a relaxed place.
Step TWO: After the breath comes into focus, the guide should tell the group to become aware of how their bodies feel. Take note of any soreness, or just how their clothing feels. Once this awareness is held for a minute or two, the body scan can begin.
Step THREE: The guide will tell the group to focus on a specific part of their bodies. Many people begin with the toes or feet, but if you have your own ideas, go for it. The awareness is held in a specific area for a minute or two and then shifted on. The guide should tell the group to wait for the next area before moving on.
Step FOUR: Once the entire body has been given mindful attention, the focus can be brought back to the breath for a few minutes. The energy in the room is likely to be extremely relaxed, so a few moments of relaxed breathing should feel great. The guide can once again tell the group to note any feelings that seem out-of-the-ordinary.
After the body scan, the group can sit and talk about what they experienced, and share the feelings they had. This exercise is also a great intro to meditation, and anyone who participates should feel calm after it is completed.
It might seem a little counterintuitive, but many people who learn mindfulness and healing tend to forget themselves. All that great caring energy is projected on to others, and the person who is making it happen gets forgotten (by themselves!).
We need to be compassionate to ourselves, and a shared self-compassion session can be a good tool for making that happen. Suffering is universal, so finding something to use self-compassion for should be pretty simple.
There are many ways to do this mindfulness-building exercise, and a basic form is given below.
Don’t be afraid to add your own touch to this exercise, or even practice it on your own. It is a good idea to do a little bit of mindful breathing before the exercise starts, as thinking about suffering tends to get us a little riled up (stress response).
Step ONE: It is a good idea to have everyone bring a notebook or something they can write with. Once everyone is sitting down in a comfortable position, you can all start writing out something that has been painful. There is no limit to what could be the subject of self-compassion; it could be a parking ticket, or an extremely traumatic life challenge.
Step TWO: Once everyone has written down one thing that is painful, the group can take turns reading what they have written, and talk about why it is important they feel compassion for themselves. After a person has finished talking, the group can express feelings of compassion for the person, so they feel that their self-compassion is being reinforced externally.
If the people in your group are already friends, the end of a person’s time can be finished with a hug from the next person who will share. This is totally optional, but a hug from a friend can do a lot to show how much better we feel when we share what is painful to us.
Step THREE: The group will continue to share the painful things that have been written down until everyone has participated.
It is important to understand that sometimes a person may write down something that is painful but be unable to share it. Don’t push, give them a chance to write something else down, or just sit with the group.
Activity #3: Mindful Snacking
Most people love to have a snack, but we don’t always pay mindful attention to our food.
Mindful snacking isn’t too good to be true, in fact, becoming aware of our minds from the act of eating is a great way to see how much we let slip by on a daily basis. Like most of the exercises in this short guide, there is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to how your group practices mindful eating.
The basics are:
- A few foods that are somewhat unique; exotic cheese plate is a winner, oatmeal medley probably isn’t the best subject.
- A group of people who aren’t starving (the urge to stamp out hunger will overcome the mindfulness in most people, at least until they are full).
- Notepaper for writing down the impressions that the food gives your group members.
The reason why this exercise can be so effective is that we eat a lot, and it is easy to integrate mindfulness into your meals after you get used to the practice.
Many people treat food as a necessity and have stopped ‘tasting’ what they eat. If a person slows down and becomes aware of the flavors, textures, and interior experiences of mindful eating, they may be surprised at how much they miss every day.
If this sounds a little bit like a gourmet ‘tasting’, you are picking up on a great opportunity for a mindfulness eating crossover event. There is no way to get to know food better than tasting it with all the awareness that is possible, which can help people to build a more refined palate.
Activity #4: Coloring Book Party!
It doesn’t matter how old you are, coloring books are a wonderful way for your group to practice focus and mindfulness. There are loads of coloring books out there. Some are very complex and made for adults, but you can use any kind of coloring book you want.
Remember, this isn’t an art contest.
The only reason why your group is coloring is to focus on a task and let go of the habitual mind that causes so much stress and overthinking. Sharing the coloring pages as a group is a great idea, as long as everyone understands that the goal is to let go of making judgments, not embrace it.
Activity #5: Looking Out The Window Together
This activity doesn’t have to be done with a window, but the sunlight from the outside is a natural way to lift your mood. We use our eyes on a near-continuous basis when we are awake, so ‘seeing’ becomes an almost automatic process.
Mindful vision exercises take something we do all day long and introduce focused awareness into the act of looking. To begin, it is good to have a pleasant scene, which is why the outside world can be a good subject. It is also nice to have some motion in the image, but it isn’t necessary.
This exercise can be as simple as looking out a window as a group for a period of time, or it can also take on the form of a discussion group. It can be interesting to have people write down thoughts and associations that come into their minds as they look mindfully, and then talk about it after the session is complete.
Mindful looking can also be practiced in a novel environment, like a nature reserve or art museum. Making an event of mindfulness is a great way to focus even more attention on being aware, which can help people who are just starting out in this area of practice.
Activity #6: Visit a Wonderful Feeling
Life has some great moments, and we need to be wise enough to cultivate that lovely joyful energy.
Mindfulness is all about the present moment, but it is ok to be grateful for pleasant things that have happened in your life. In this exercise, everyone in the group will find something in their life they are grateful for and gave them wonderful feelings.
It is important not to try and recreate the good feelings, as chasing after good things that happened in the past will pull you out of the present moment. Instead, everyone in your group can be grateful in the present moment, and then share the thing they are grateful for.
When people in the group are sharing, the rest of the group can practice mindful listening. We can overlook things in our own lives that are worthy of gratitude, which is one of the most positive energies we can cultivate.
If you want to learn more about mindful listening, please keep reading!
Activity #7: Mindful Listening Activities
When we have to do something all day long, we tend to just go into ‘autopilot mode’. Mindfulness is one of the ways we reestablish awareness of our lives, and mindful listening is one of the most important ways we can practice both focus, and giving attention.
Mindful listening is easy to practice in a group. Your group can pair off into partners, or a ‘speaker’ can share information with the group. It should be easy to see that this kind of practice can be used with other exercises in this guide, and will likely make them more effective for everyone in the group.
At its core, mindful listening is simply focusing on the person who is talking, in the same way, that you would focus on your breath in meditation. Like most mindfulness activities, the simplicity of focusing on something will create incredible results.
The mindful listening group activity can be simple, and people in the group can simply share something meaningful to them with the group, or once everyone has spoken, the group can take turns talking about what they felt when they were speaking or listening.
Activity #8: Group Dancing
Mindful dancing is a simple way to let go of thinking. There is no special dance or goal of mindful dancing. All your group has to do is turn on some good music, and start moving. Don’t focus on anything but feeling joy, and moving your body. Mindful dancing is also a great way to end a mindfulness group, as it usually leaves everyone feeling incredible.
Activity #9: Balloon Play
Balloons don’t cost a lot of money, and they are genuinely fun to play with. Mindful balloon play can take on numerous forms, but one of the easiest is a game of balloon ‘hacky sack’. All your group has to do is sit in a circle, and keep the balloon from touching the ground.
There are no winners or losers in this game, and your group can play with more than one balloon at a time. Once your group focuses on the balloons and keeping them up in the air, the mind will calm down, and all those worries will fade into the background.
Don’t be afraid to make up your own versions of the balloon exercise. Once your group has inflated the balloons they can be used for different things during the day. They also look fun sitting around the room and add something to any event.
Mindfulness isn’t a new idea, but it is finally being embraced by a wider group of people.
It is easy to learn, and can be practiced almost anytime, and in any situation. Individual mindfulness practice is a great way to improve your awareness, but group mindfulness exercises are also indispensable in growing your mindfulness skills.
If you are new to the ideas that this guide has talked about, please have a look at: 10-Minute Mindfulness, which we created to help people get into mindfulness practice.
You can start working on mindfulness at home, and you will probably be surprised at how much it can help with your stress and interpersonal relationships.
Life isn’t going to stop being stressful, but with mindfulness and compassion, you can feel a lot better about life. For more information about how mindfulness and compassion work together, please have a look at this article, and see how scientific research backs up the power of compassion!
Nicholas Say was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has been interested in global belief systems from a young age. This area of study led him to research many Eastern philosophical systems, including Vedic and Buddhist ideas and practices. Today he thinks that humanity needs to find ways to be happy with being, as opposed to possessing and doing. His views fall roughly in-line with the late philosopher Alan Watts, who he venerates as great teacher.