We all have routines, things we think and do everyday. Some of our routines serve us well, and some don’t.
Something that’s become a big part of my daily routine – one of the important habits that I start my day with – is meditation. It helps me to feel focussed, clear on my intentions, and able to tackle the tasks I’ve set for myself. It also helps me to recognise when I’m going off-track, or not in a good place, and pull my attention back.
Now, I think a lot of us hear the word ‘meditation‘ and feel a little overwhelmed by it!
I used to feel the same way. But my mindset changed when I came to see meditation as a resource, a tool to help me be better at being me.
I’m still full of questions though, and I know that many of us are…
So I was really excited when I connected with Andy Puddicombe, a leading expert on meditation and mindfulness and co-founder of Headspace. Happily, he’s agreed to help me with some answers!
Andy, a former Buddhist monk, founded Headspace with Rich Pierson, a creative developer, with the aim of making meditation accessible, relevant and beneficial for as many people as possible. Since its creation, Headspace has given more than 2 million people their own “gym membership for the mind”.
For those of you who haven’t heard Andy speak, his TED talk is a great introduction to his background and his passion for meditation.
Now – let’s get to the Q&A…
On Meditation and Enjoying the Little Things
In this busy, modern world, many of us are feeling a bit disconnected by the dizzying pace of life. We’re looking for ways to simplify our lives and find joy in the little things again. How do you think meditation fits in with learning to reconnect with ourselves and the world?
– A –
Meditation is really about learning to be comfortable with the present moment. Not being distracted or running away from what’s happening in the here and now.
A lot people imagine that it’s about shutting the door on the world, but in fact, the opposite is true. It’s about creating the right conditions for an open mind, which can let more in.
On Meditation and Finding What Matters to You
There’s so much inspiration and advice available to us these days, just a tap of a finger away. A million recipes, homemaking tips, exercise routines and new things to try. It starts to form its own clutter… how can we use meditation to make sense of what we really want to do, and where to begin?
– A –
Meditation helps us to feel calmer, clearer, less tired, less stressed, more empathetic and more compassionate and it is with this clarity that we are able to make sense of the world around us.
Everyone has their own rhythm and it is by finding our own sense of calm that we really begin to take note of what this is.
Meditation and Finding Balance
Many people wish they could spend more time doing the things they love… but feel overwhelmed, tired and time-starved. How do we balance what we want to do, with all the things we have to do? How do make time for the things that matter?
– A –
With the current pace of life and increasing demands – not least of which is the increasing digital chatter – there is no question that the mind is experiencing a new and potentially harmful degree of pressure. Most people assume that this stress is simply part of life, but it really doesn’t have to be that way. Meditation shows us how to live more skillfully.
Personally I’m not all that keen on this artificial separation of work and life. Work is part of life and our mind is our mind, no matter where we are. Rather than try and balance something we don’t like or enjoy with the remaining hours of our day, why not find a way for the mind to be happy, no matter where we are or what we are doing? To me that’s the ultimate balance.
On Meditation and Tapping into Our Own Intuition
When it comes to health and wellness, many of our choices are based on fear – fear of getting sick, getting fat, or just getting old. How do we know that the choices we make are coming from a genuine place of positivity – knowing what’s right for us?
– A –
Over time meditation can help us to develop a clearer, calmer mind. And that has a positive impact on all the other choices we make in our lives.
Whether that’s healthy eating, or choosing to exercise, we are able to make decisions based on a positive desire to impact our body instead of out of fear.
On Meditation and Wellness
We hear about meditation being about mindset – a way to find clarity, peace of mind and focus. But what’s happening on a physical level when we meditate? What do the studies show about meditation and the human body?
– A –
The kinds of things that happen when you meditate do have effects throughout the body, not just in the brain. Studies show that it can lower heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress.
On top of being a ‘heart-healthy’ practice, meditation can also boost our immunity by lowering inflammation, helping us ward a variety of diseases. While many studies have looked at meditation’s effects while it’s actively happening, other research also shows that meditation has positive residual effects, lasting long after the meditation session.
It’s nice to end on this point, because just like physical exercise, meditation is a mental exercise. You will see greater results the more you practice.
Credit: Doctor Claudia Aguirre, Resident Neuroscientist at www.headspace.com
On Meditation and Getting Started
For someone that’s new to meditation, learning how to “do nothing” feels really challenging! For anyone thinking about getting started with meditation – what’s the first step?
Give Take10 a go! The best way to experience it – is to try it for yourself.
Thanks so much to Andy for taking the time out to answer my questions. Now, some really great news!
I first got talking to Andy when I was running the How to Become a Morning Person email course. So many students wanted to try meditation but weren’t sure where to start. After hundreds of students recommended the Headspace app, I sent a couple of emails…
I’m thrilled to say now that Andy is contributing a special lesson dedicated to meditation for the next session of How to Become a Morning Person! Plus, there’s an exclusive bonus just for students of the course, which you won’t find anywhere else.
So hurry and check it out – How to Become a Morning Person begins Monday, March 16. Just two days to go! Are you ready to rise up?