10 Hobbies that Make You Better at Mindfulness

1. Knitting 
Knitting (and other similar hobbies like crocheting) is not a far stretch from meditation, where focus is key. The rhythmic, repetitive motion of the knitting needle going in and out of the yarn helps calm wandering thoughts and relieve stress.

Studies have shown that knitting can increase happiness, ease symptoms of depression and help slow cognitive decline. Best of all, you walk away with a beautifully hand-knitted wool creation! 
Make it Mindful:
Pay attention to every individual stitch instead of only looking forward to the end product. 
Focus on how your needles are working, the color and texture of your yarn and how they feel on your hands as you work through them.
Take deep breaths and notice how they correspond with each movement as you knit.
2. Coloring 
Adult coloring books have become so popular of late that the world is experiencing aglobal shortage of colored pencils. Many claim it helps them break free from the digital world and de-stress, while others simply enjoy the therapeutic effect of coloring in intricate designs.

Coloring is a form of active meditation, which some psychologists claim to be the best way to meditate. It allows you to concentrate on a simple and repetitive activity that blocks out negative thoughts. 
Make it Mindful: 
Focus on how the pencils feel in your fingers, how it feels against the paper, how the colours appear on the paper. 
Pay attention to every individual stroke of your coloring, the gentle back and forth movements. 
Be mindful of how your breathing corresponds with your coloring strokes. 
3. Hiking 
Hiking is well-loved by many across the globe. It's a great cardio workout that's low impact, yet effective in improving your overall health, from lowering your risk of heart disease to boosting bone density.

Hiking is also very compatible with mindfulness, except to hike mindfully you do it without the end goals and distracting conversation. Practitioners call it "walking meditation". 

Thich Nhat Hanh describes the practice best: 

"When you practice walking meditation, you go for a stroll. You have no purpose or direction in space or time. The purpose of walking meditation is walking meditation itself. Going is important, not arriving."

Make it Mindful: 
Schedule quiet time during your hike to listen in on the ramblings of your mind and observe what revolves around your thoughts. 
Pay attention to each step you take. Notice how you walk, how your feet react each time you place it on the ground. 
Walk slowly and observe your body and surroundings. Notice the small details you usually miss out on, like the sounds of your footsteps, the wind grazing your skin, and the colours, shapes, and shadows around you.
4. Target Shooting
Target shooting would probably not be the first thing you think about when it comes to being mindful, but it does share many fundamentals with mindfulness.

Marksmanship instructors all preach that while becoming a good marksmanrequires great physical control of the body and lots of practice, it is the ability to focus the mind on a particular moment that keeps one on point. 

As Pete Lessler writes in his book Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to Rifle Marksmanship, the art of target shooting is steeped in mindfulness.

"Don't worry about the last shot or the next shot, focus on THIS shot. Don't think, don't try, just shoot."

Make it Mindful: 
Clear your mind of distracting thoughts and focus only on the target. 
Focus on your breathing while you hold the trigger, taking care not to pull it too quickly. Regulate your breathing cycle before slowly taking a shot.
Be aware of your body, your posture, how you are positioned and how the gun feels in your arms.
5. Rock Climbing 
Rock climbing is perhaps another activity you wouldn't normally associate with mindfulness.

However, the ability to maneuver up a climbing wall or rock well requires complete focus and visualisation of the route. If you panic or freak out, you'll most probably not perform your best.

Experts found that practicing mindfulness during climbing dramatically improved peak performance for athletes, while also empowering them in other aspects of their lives.
Make it Mindful: 
Be aware of each foot placement, taking care of where you land. 
Focus on how your body, arms and legs feel when you are pausing or climbing. 
Throughout the climb, take a look at how your mind reacts. Is it constantly focused on the moment, or does it wander off to the past or future? 
6. Pottery
Oprah Winfrey described pottery as something that helped her engage in the moment and live in the now. 

"the process has a hypnotic soothing quality to it, drawing us inward, opening our minds to new possibilities."

Pottery requires incredible focus as you throw the clay to land exactly in the middle of the spinning wheel. Only when the clay is perfectly centered, can you begin to create your piece of art. Mindfulness has a lot to play in that. 
Make it Mindful: 
Take heed of your breathing before centering your clay on the spinning wheel. 
Pay attention to your hands on the clay as it spins on the wheel. Feel every stroke, consider how it affects the clay. 
Embrace the moment as you mould the clay and be present. Forget about the results for now.
7. Gardening 
Gardening is a great way to stop and smell the roses. In fact, you're not just stopping to smell them, you're giving them life from the ground up. In this world of instant gratification, gardening cultivates patience and mindfulness.

There is a surprising amount of benefits that can be derived from weeding, pruning and planting stuff. Besides improving your physical health, a recent poll has found that 88% of people feel that gardening improves their mental wellbeing. 

Many mental health experts recommend gardening as an activity that can bring about positive changes to those with mental health issues and disabilities. 
Make it Mindful: 
Listen in on your surroundings and fully absorb the sounds of the soil, insects, the rustling of the leaves or the flowing of the water. Take it all in. 
Breathe deep and rhythmically. Appreciate the fresh air flowing through your lungs. 
Enjoy the repetitive actions of your hands working in the dirt, meditate upon it. When your thoughts wander, gently sway it back towards your action in the moment.
8. Cooking
Many people either love to cook, or hate it. Some treat it as a daily chore where they hastily throw together whatever's available in the fridge while others see it as a form of art, carefully pairing ingredients to come up with the perfect dinner. 

Regardless of how much you enjoy cooking, it's a wonderful opportunity to be mindful. When you are conscious while making food, you'll find that it'll be peppered with one extra, vital ingredient that makes food delicious -- love. 
Make it Mindful: 
The next time you're chopping, slicing, washing, or just generally prepping for the cooking process, allow your mind to tune in on the repetitive motions.
Pay attention to the details. Notice how the carrot reacts as you slide your knife through it, or how the pieces of garlic break apart as you chop rhythmically away.
Be aware of the sounds and scents of the process. Watch and listen to the glug of oil you just poured into the pan, see how the garlic bounces around in the hot oil, notice how each new ingredient influences the smell, look and flavour of the dish.
9. Birdwatching 
Birders are naturally mindful. They have to be aware of their surroundings, patient and calm in their movements in order to encounter the many winged beauties nature has to offer. 

With long stretches of time spend out in nature, birders have also cultivated an ability to zone out, quiet their worries and forget about their phones. Instead. they're fully present, enjoying the world around them.
Make it Mindful: 
When out in the great outdoors, focus your attention on your surroundings. The trees, the twigs on the ground, the way the wind blows. Feel the positive energy flowing through you. 
As you silently make your way through the forest, dwell upon your thoughts and notice where they're taking you. You don't need to change the direction of these thoughts, just pay attention to what they are from a little distance to learn more about yourself. 
You don't need to go out into the woods to do a bout of birding. Start from your own neighborhood and notice the many bird species that exist there. You'll be surprised by what you find when you pay attention. Just like in life. 
10. Trainspotting 
Trainspotting is the latest darling in the mindfulness sphere. New research has found that the fairly old fashioned pastime incorporates seamlessly into your mindfulness practice.

According to Dr Saima Latif, a clinical psychologist trained in mindfulness techniques, trainspotting helps focus the mind on the present task at hand, which helps channel your thoughts and relieve stress. 

The act of waiting, spotting, and noting down each train's number can bring about therapeutic benefits.


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