Andy Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk and the co-founder of the meditation app Headspace. He explains how meditation can transform your wellbeing and mental health, and act as a valuable stress management tool.
Take 10 mindful minutes. There’s so much going on today, so much stimulation, that it’s easy for people never to stop and be mindful. I wouldn’t say busy-ness was a toxin, but not taking time to be aware of yourself, your feelings and surroundings can make things difficult. Just 10 minutes’ meditation a day has a huge impact – it could be the time you normally zone out in front of the television.
Know the benefits. Meditation impacts all areas of life. It can help to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, improve sleep, enhance productivity, improve physical performance in sports and even help soften the edges in relationships as we become more patient, better listeners and perhaps a little kinder too. The range of benefits is vast and varies from person to person, but I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t like a little more calm and clarity in their life.
Commit without judgment. Meditation helps teach you how to clear the head – but it takes practice, just like any other skill. If your expectations are too rigid, you might find yourself disappointed. The best thing to do is to commit to a daily practice. Make this commitment and to keep coming back if you don’t always achieve it. Our experience and evidence show that, over time, you will start to experience real benefits.
Appreciate the present moment. The present is very underrated – it sounds so ordinary, yet we spend so little time actually in it. One Harvard study said that, on average, our minds are lost in thought 47 per cent of the time – and that constant mind-wandering is a source of unhappiness. Just think about how you feel right now sometimes.
Check in regularly. I sometimes suggest putting up a coloured Post-it somewhere you’ll see it during the day – near the kettle or mirror, perhaps. That can be enough to jog you out of the thoughts you’re lost in and to feel less at the mercy of your thinking. It helps create a moment of mindfulness. You come to recognise that all your thinking is temporary, not the “be all and end all” of who you are.
This article first appeared on ‘The Telegraph’ on 24 August 2014.