3-Zoned Mindfulness

Posted: August 31, 2014 in Games
Tags: , ,

This is a nice, basic activity that gives participants an opportunity to do the internal work of mindfulness (becoming aware of their present-moment experience) while still getting a chance to externalize their experience and express it in a controlled, physical way that gets them up and moving. This is based on the common four-corner mixer.


  • Designate three separate areas of the space that you’re in (e.g. three corners, or one side of the room, the middle of the room, and the opposite side of the room). One area will be the “Yes Zone,” another will be the “Maybe/In-Between Zone,” and the last will be the “No Zone.”
  • Let participants know that you’re going to be asking them a set of questions. When they hear a question, they should take a moment to mindfully check in with their present moment experience. Then, depending on what they find, they’ll move to the area of the room appropriate to their answer. So if their answer to the question is “yes,” they’ll go to the “Yes Zone.”
  • Example questions and answers:
    • Do you feel restless, like it’s hard to sit or stand still right now?
      • Answer examples: yes (hard)/in between (not hard, not easy)/no (easy)
    • Do you feel tired right now?
      • Answer examples: yes (tired), in between (not super tired, but not wide awake either), no (wide awake)
    • Do you feel hungry right now?
      • Answer examples: yes (hungry), in between (satisfied), no (full)
  • Other example topics:
    • Focused, in between, distracted
    • Hot, comfortable, cold
    • Clear, in between, confused
    • Friendly, in between, unfriendly
    • Relaxed, in between, tense/anxious
    • Happy, in between (neutral), sad
    • Uncomfortable, in between, comfortable
  • It’s nice to close out with some possible topics posed by participants themselves.


Instruction Notes:

  • Since there’s an obvious progression from “Yes” to “Maybe” to “No,” arrange the areas that you designate with the “Maybe Zone” somehow in-between the other two.
  • You may want to create large, simple signs to designate the three different zones. Even if you do, younger participants may need frequent reminders (perhaps for each question) of which zones correspond to which answers.
  • To ensure a good, hearty mindful check-in, create some cue to let participants know when they should begin moving to their answer zone. For instance, you can ask the question, give them 10 seconds or so (however long seems appropriate to you) to internally check in, and then give the cue (like, “go,” or some such).
  • There’s no need for participants to come back together after each question. You can just ask the next question while they’re still in the answer zones from the last question, and they can move straight to their next answer zones.
  • Given the herd mentality of us humans, it’s good to mention (especially to teens) that this is not about moving to the same zone as a friend—rather it’s about reflecting on each person’s individual experience in the moment. Of course this is not going to stop some participants from still moving around with a friend, so just keep an eye out and quietly intervene if you see fit.

Application Notes:

  • The example questions and topics above are ones I’ve used for this activity in the past. Depending on the age of the participants (e.g. younger—more concrete; older—can go more abstract) and context (specific themes you’re covering, e.g. mindfulness of emotions), you can come up with other questions that will fit your needs.
  • You could have a follow-up discussion with the group about this process of checking in. Possible areas of exploration: What was it like to check in? How might it be useful to check in like this at points during a normal day? Was there anything they discovered that they hadn’t really been aware of before the question was asked? And so on…



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