Mind & Spirit

How to start a mindfulness meditation routine

By: Kate Rae
How to start a mindfulness meditation routine

Mind & Spirit

How to start a mindfulness meditation routine

By: Kate Rae

Mindfulness meditation can help relieve anxiety and depression symptoms. Start your own mindful routine with these five easy steps.

There is no shortage of mindfulness courses and teachers. Google "mindfulness meditation” and your town to find a formal course. (Mindfulness-based stress reduction courses and sessions in medical settings can require an intense time commitment but can be effective for treating serious anxiety, stress and depression. Some hospital courses require a doctor’s referral.)

You can also undertake what Dr. Lucinda Sykes, director of Toronto’s Meditation for Health, calls an “informal” practice of at least 15 minutes a day on your own. Here’s what you need to do to get started.

1. Neutralize your spine position
“When we sit with all the vertebrae stacked on top of each other, it opens the pathway for cerebral spinal fluid and for nervous system activity to happen more cleanly,” says Dr. Jesse Hanson, clinical director of Helix Healthcare in Toronto. “If we’re slumped over, we’re going to feel more sad, more tired. A mindful, present posture facilitates going deeper into what’s going on underneath.”

2. Get a little help
Try apps like Headspace and Simply Being. There are also many websites, MP3s, books and videos that can guide you through meditation. Our experts recommend the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Rick Hanson and Dan Siegel.

3. Take breaks and don’t set goals
“We get so focused on the story of ourselves versus the reality,” says Dr. Sykes. “A goal-oriented mind shows high levels of stress.”

4. Just observe
Simply notice the thoughts that materialize. “People think mindfulness meditation is about clearing the brain, but it’s really about tracking your breathing and thoughts without comment or judgment,” says Dr. Hanson.

5. Try it throughout the day
You can start understanding the benefits of mindfulness during your day-to-day activities. Meditate while knitting, walking the dog or stirring your coffee. “Even just brushing your teeth, you can be mindful,” says Dr. Sykes. “Start by noticing how your feet are planted on the floor. Feel the toothbrush in your mouth.” Dr. Sykes believes that mindfulness isn’t something we need to learn how to do— it’s something we need to remember. “We all have the power to be still with our thoughts, to not judge or critique, to not have to create and meet goals,” she says. “We were able to do it as children. We can remember to do it again.”

Find out how you can start practicing mindfulness meditation with our helpful guide.
                                               
This content is vetted by medical experts
           
           

This story was originally titled "In The Moment" in the December 2014 issue.
           
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Mind & Spirit

How to start a mindfulness meditation routine

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