Top five mindful practice exercises anyone can do


Mindful exercises, which develop cognitive, social and emotional areas of the brain, will become just as commonplace as brushing your teeth predicts MindWell-U. The Canadian health tech firm, which works with organizations including WestJet, UBC and Coca-Cola, develops evidence-based mental health training that lowers stress, increases resilience and improves performance.

Rooted in ancient wisdom traditions but used today in virtually every field including business, government and healthcare, mindfulness is a training in attention and kindness that re-focuses the mind when it wanders. When more aware, present and engaged, people can respond instead of react which helps them make more informed decisions. Mindfulness has been studied extensively and is proven to improve mental health, physical health, performance and more.

Company co-founder Geoff Soloway says he predicts it will one day be taught as a core literacy in school, alongside math and English, and become part of all organizations as they endeavour to lower employee stress and absenteeism, increase engagement and safety, and more. Here, he offers his top five tips for starting a mindful practice that anyone can do.

mindwell-u take 5 mindful exercises

  1. Try it
    The best way to see if mindfulness is for you is to try it suggests Dr. Soloway. “You can certainly read about mindfulness and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction in books and online, but in all the classes I teach, the penny really drops when people experience mindfulness for themselves.”
  2. Start small
    Rather than jump into a 30-minute mindful meditation, start with something easy and accessible says Dr. Soloway. He recommends the Take 5 mindful exercise as a good place to start because “it’s simple, short and can be done in the middle of whatever you’re doing… making dinner, delivering a presentation, driving the car or meeting with clients.”
  3. Practice
    Just like building your muscles at the gym, mindfulness is a brain exercise that needs repetition for results. In fact, small amounts of mindfulness practice make a big difference: in three days stress goes down; in two weeks focus and memory improves; and in eight weeks there are changes in the brain’s neuroplasticity.
  4. Hardwire happiness too
    Mindfulness helps us better manage stress but it also hardwires happiness. “The next time you have a positive experience or happy moment, do a Take 5 mindfulness practice to really soak up the feeling,” says Dr. Soloway. “If we train ourselves to notice and celebrate the little moments, we can literally hardwire happiness in our brains.”
  5. Use cues
    “One of the hardest things about mindfulness is remembering to practice,” says Dr. Soloway. “In the 30 Day Mindfulness Challenge we encourage people to drop cues into their day to help them remember to practice. The cues should be something you’re already doing each day so it’s easy for you to remember. Some of the cues we use in the Challenge are walking through a door, checking e-mail or brushing your teeth.”

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