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About the book

This program was previously published as Get Some Headspace: How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day.

Quiet the mind, feel less stressed and less tired, and achieve a new level of calm and fulfillment in just ten minutes a day.

Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, the Voice of Headspace, and the UK’s foremost mindfulness expert, is on a mission: to get people to take 10 minutes out of their day to sit in the here and now.

Like his readers and students, Andy began his own meditation practice as a normal, busy person with everyday concerns, and he has since designed a program of mindfulness and guided meditation that fits neatly into a jam-packed daily routine – proving that just 10 minutes a day can make a world of difference.

Accessible and portable, The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness offers simple but powerful meditation techniques that positively impact every area of physical and mental health: from productivity and focus, to stress and anxiety relief, sleep, weight-loss, personal relationships…the benefits are limitless. The result? More headspace, less stress. Andy brings this ancient practice into the modern world, tailor made for the most time starved among us.

Buy book: Amazon

Year published: 2011


Quotes from the book

The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness (Andy Puddicombe)

  • A great many of my thoughts fell into the ‘unhelpful and unproductive’ category. ‘If you’re worried about losing these creative thoughts,’ he gestured somewhat dismissively, ‘then where do you think they come from in the first place? Do those moments of inspiration come from cold, rational thinking, or do they arise from the stillness and the spaciousness of the mind? When the mind is always busy there’s no room for these thoughts to arise, so by training your mind you’ll actually make more space for these creative thoughts to arise. The point is, don’t be a slave to your mind. If you want to direct your mind and use it well, then good. But what use is the mind if it’s all over the place, with no sense of direction or stability?
  • Amy had slipped into a pattern of thinking about thinking, which doesn’t make for a very restful mind.
  • And this is how most people live their lives, moving from one distraction to the next. When they’re at work they’re too busy, too distracted, to be aware of how they really feel, so when they get home they’re suddenly confronted by lots of thoughts. If they manage to keep themselves occupied during the evening, then they may not even become aware of these thoughts until they go to bed at night. You know how it goes, you put your head on the pillow and it appears as though the mind suddenly goes into overdrive. Of course, the thoughts have been there all along, it’s just that without any distractions you become aware of them. Or it can be the other way around. Some people have such busy social lives or family lives that it’s not until they get to work that they become aware of just how frazzled they feel, of all the thoughts racing around in the mind.
  • Any chair can be used for this purpose, but you might find it easier to use an upright kitchen or dining room–style chair. Armchairs and sofas, and most definitely beds, are all a little too soft and spongy for this purpose. They might give you the feeling of relaxation, but are unlikely to give you the feeling of being alert.
  • As I heard this story unfold I felt increasingly ashamed of my grumbling, moaning and complaining in life—of always wanting things to be exactly as I wanted them to be, and not being satisfied unless I got my way.
  • As long as there’s resistance, there’s no room for acceptance. And as long as we don’t have acceptance, there’s no way of having a peaceful mind.
  • By changing the way in which you see the world, you effectively change the world around you.
  • By focusing less on your own worries and more on the potential happiness of others you actually create more headspace for yourself. Not only that, but the mind becomes softer, more malleable, easier to work with. It tends to be quicker to settle on the object of meditation, less easily distracted by passing thoughts. It also tends to be clearer, more stable and less reactive to volatile emotions. So giving your practice an altruistic edge is about so much more than simply doing the right thing. It should come as no surprise that the impact this simple skill can have on your relationships with others is quite profound. In becoming more aware of everything and everyone, you inevitably become more aware of others. You start to notice how sometimes you might unintentionally (or even intentionally) push their buttons, or notice what causes them to push yours. You start to listen to what they’re actually saying, rather than thinking about what you’d like them to say or what you’re going to say next. And when these things begin to happen you’ll notice that your relationships with others really start to change. But so long as we’re immersed in our own thoughts the whole time, it’s very difficult to truly find time for others.
  • By stepping back and getting a little bit of perspective (something I could never have done without meditation) I was able to see the original emotion for what it was.
  • Clarity arises in its own time and its own way. Sometimes clarity will mean becoming more aware of the thinking process. At other times the awareness might shift to the emotions or physical sensations.
  • Clearly it’s not what’s happening outside of ourselves that causes us the most difficulty, but rather what’s going on inside our own minds—which, thankfully, is something that can change.
  • Even when it appears as though there’s nothing but big, dark, heavy clouds, there’s always blue sky there.
  • Have you ever noticed how much emphasis some people place on even the smallest amount of difficulty in their lives, and how little time they spend reflecting on moments of happiness?
  • healing of psoriasis, a treatable skin condition that has a strong relationship with psychological stress. With clear implications for other stress-related skin conditions, they found that the meditators’ skin cleared at about four times the rate of the non-meditators’ skin.
  • how about showing yourself some of that kindness—especially in learning to be more mindful.
  • How many of us live our lives in this way? Swept away by memories of the past and plans for the future. So preoccupied with thinking that we’re completely unaware of what’s actually taking place right now, oblivious to life unfolding around us. The present moment just feels so ordinary that we take it for granted, and yet that’s what makes it so extraordinary—the fact that we so rarely experience the present moment exactly as it is. And quite unlike anything else in life, you don’t need to go anywhere to get it, or do anything to create it. It’s right here, no matter what you’re doing. It’s in the eating of a sandwich, the drinking of a cup of tea, the washing of the dishes … ordinary, everyday activities. This is what it means to be mindful, to be present, to be aware.
  • I know it sounds old-fashioned, but when did you last sit at the table to eat a meal? For most people, the sofa has taken the place of the table. In the past we’d have paused before food, whether that was down to etiquette or prayer.
  • I usually recommend doing it for a very minimum of ten days before you completely rule it out.
  • If the purpose of meditation is to know one’s own mind, then with this approach you’ll only ever get to know the happy and calm aspects of the mind, and never the more troublesome aspects. This may sound quite appealing at first, but when was the last time you had a problem with feeling too happy or too relaxed? So it’s the troublesome thoughts and emotions that we need to get to know the best. In order to know your own mind, and therefore experience life with a renewed sense of perspective, it’s important to always cross the finishing line, to complete the ten minutes, no matter what.
  • If we’re ever going to study these feelings and emotions that both complicate and enrich our lives, then we need the surface of the water to be still enough so that we can see them.
  • If you do miss a day once in a while, don’t let that be the reason to give up meditation altogether. Use it as an opportunity to strengthen your resolve, to practice your resilience, and to be adaptive to changing circumstances. You will still see benefits.
  • In order to get the very most from meditation, you’ll probably want to integrate it with your everyday life. And in order to do that, you’ll need to add the second component—clarity. This way you get to see what’s causing the tension in the first place, you get to understand how and why you feel the way you do in certain situations.
  • It can sometimes feel as though we’re so busy remembering, planning and analyzing life, that we forget to experience life—as it actually is, rather than how we think it should be.
  • it hadn’t changed the way he felt, but had instead changed his experience of those feelings. He said that while he still felt a great sense of loss and sadness at times, he perceived it differently. He described how he’d found a place beneath those thoughts and feelings where there was a sense of peace, of stillness and of calm.
  • It required a presence, a brutal honesty to put something out there and see what happens. Sometimes it was inspired and the thrill was exhilarating, other times it was painful and the result was humiliating. But somehow it didn’t matter. What mattered was going out there and doing it, not thinking about it, not worrying what others might think, not even being attached to a particular result, just doing it.
  • It was an extreme, and extremes are rarely a healthy way of living, no matter which end of the scale they may be.
  • it’s a way of stepping back and resting the mind in its natural state, free from the usual chaos.
  • it’s not necessarily about seeing an increasing amount of focus and clarity every single day. It’s about noticing whatever is happening in the body and mind each time you sit down to meditate.
  • Letting go of such strong emotions is not always easy.
  • Maybe it’s more useful to think about clarity in terms of a steady unfolding of the mind, an increasingly direct insight into what’s happening. And this increasing clarity is vital.
  • Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do, and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process.
  • Mindfulness means to be present, in the moment, undistracted. It implies resting the mind in its natural state of awareness, which is free of any bias or judgment.
  • Often in life we get so caught up in the analysis, the dissection of every possible outcome, that we miss an opportunity altogether.
  • One of the most important was that the emotion itself is often not the problem. It’s the way we react to it that causes the problem. For example, I feel angry and respond to it with more anger, stoking the coals, keeping the fire of anger burning. Or I feel worried and I start to feel worried that I feel worried. By stepping back and getting a little bit of perspective (something I could never have done without meditation) I was able to see the original emotion for what it was. And by simply being aware of it, it was as if it had its moment in the sun and was more willing to move on. So often we shut down when unpleasant feelings arise, we don’t want to feel them or be around them. But by reacting in this way we only give the emotion a greater sense of importance. By learning to let emotions come and go, and because there’s this underlying sense of awareness and perspective, then no matter how difficult the feeling, there is always the sense that everything is okay, even if the emotion is very strong. The other lesson I learned was that sometimes, the idea of something can be very different from reality. I thought I felt very sad, but when I tried to locate that sadness, all I could find were these ever-changing thoughts and physical sensations. I struggled to find any permanent emotion. I just found thoughts and physical sensations that were colored by the feeling.
  • ready: 1. Find a place to sit down comfortably, keeping a straight back. 2. Ensure you’ll be left undisturbed during your meditation (switch off your cell phone). 3. Set the timer for ten minutes. Checking-in: 1. Take 5 deep breaths, breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth and then gently close your eyes. 2. Focus on the physical sensation of the body on the chair and the feet on the floor. 3. Scan down through the body and notice which parts feel comfortable and relaxed, and which parts feel uncomfortable and tense. 4. Notice how you’re feeling—i.e. what sort of mood you’re in right now. Focusing the mind: 1. Notice where you feel the rising and falling sensation of the breath most strongly. 2. Notice how each breath feels, the rhythm of it—whether it’s long or short, deep or shallow, rough or smooth. 3. Gently count the breaths as you focus on the rising and falling sensation—1 with the rise and 2 with the fall, upward to a count of 10. 4. Repeat this cycle between 5 and 10 times, or for as long as you have time available. Finishing-off: 1. Let go of any focus at all, allowing the mind to be as busy or as still as it wants to be for about twenty seconds. 2. Bring the mind back to the sensation of the body on the chair and the feet on the floor. 3. Gently open your eyes and stand up when you feel ready.
  • Researchers investigating the effectiveness of mindfulness found that after just five days of meditating for a very short time, participants showed increased blood flow to the area of the brain that helps to control emotions and behavior.
  • So, without first calming the mind, it’s very difficult to have any clarity. That’s why there’s slightly more emphasis on the concentration component in this particular technique.
  • That’s the interesting thing with meditation. It’s a reflection of the way in which you relate to the world around you.
  • That’s why I prefer the word headspace. It describes an underlying sense of peace, a feeling of fulfillment or unshakeable contentment, no matter what emotion might be in play at that time. Headspace is not a quality of mind dependent on surface emotions; this means it can be experienced just as clearly in periods of sadness or anger as it can in times of excitement and laughter. Essentially it’s being okay with whatever thoughts you’re experiencing or emotions you’re feeling. That’s
  • The body and mind are not separate. When we have presence of mind we have presence of body, when we possess mental focus we possess physical focus, and when we have an ease of mind we have an ease of body.
  • The idea of finding time early in the morning can be daunting. But keep in mind that we are still only talking about ten minutes. And this is ten minutes that is going to set up your entire day for you. We may feel desperate for more sleep, but the deep rest experienced in meditation is far more useful and beneficial than the extra ten minutes of sleep you would otherwise get. What’s more, you’re conscious of it.
  • The kind of happiness that I’m talking about is the ability to feel comfortable no matter what emotion arises.
  • The one thing that remains the same throughout the day is that your thinking dictates the way you feel. In the absence of awareness, the realm of thought takes over.
  • The point of training the mind is to become more aware.
  • the starting point is to acknowledge that it’s the mind itself that defines your experience. This is why training the mind is so important. By changing the way in which you see the world, you effectively change the world around you.
  • The thing to remember about clarity is that what needs to become clear, will naturally become clear. Meditation is not about rooting around in the recesses of the mind, digging up old memories, getting caught up in analysis and trying to make sense of it all.
  • There’s also something comforting in focusing on a physical sensation, as it helps to draw the attention away from the realm of thought and into something a bit more tangible.
  • There’s something really valuable in this process, a sense of appreciation and gratitude is at the heart of a stable mindfulness practice.
  • This distinction between headspace and the emotion of happiness is an important one. For some reason we’ve come to believe that happiness should be the default setting in life and, therefore, anything different is somehow wrong. Based on this assumption we tend to resist the source of unhappiness – physically, mentally and emotionally. It’s usually at this stage that things get complicated. Life can begin to feel like a chore, and an endless struggle to chase and maintain that feeling of happiness. We get hooked on the temporary rush or pleasure of a new experience, whatever that is, and then need to feed it the whole time. It doesn’t matter whether we feed it with food, drink, drugs, clothes, cars, relationships, work, or even the peace and quiet of the countryside. If we become dependent on it for our happiness, then we’re trapped. What happens when we can’t have it any more? And what happens when the excitement wears off? For many, their entire life revolves around this pursuit of happiness. Yet how many people do you know who are truly happy? And by that I mean, how many people do you know who have that unshakeable sense of underlying headspace? Has this approach of chasing one thing after the next worked for you in terms of giving you headspace? It’s as if we rush around creating all this mental chatter in our pursuit of temporary happiness, without realising that all the noise is simply drowning out the natural headspace that is already there, just waiting to be acknowledged.
  • Traditionally, meditation students were taught first how to approach the technique, then how to practise it, before finally learning how to integrate the techniques into their everyday lives.
  • True happiness doesn’t distinguish between the kind of happiness you get from having fun and the sadness you feel when something goes wrong.
  • Using sophisticated brain-mapping techniques they discovered that the reduction in gray matter that typically comes with aging had actually been offset by the meditation.
  • we are much more than that one type of person. We’re always changing, one moment to the next, one day to the next. And when you see this clearly, it becomes more difficult to hold on to any fixed views of how you see yourself.
  • We talked about not needing to identify with the thoughts so much, that they were not who she was, but simply thoughts that had been colored by the feelings of depression.
  • We’re all very different and it’s important that you find a time that is comfortable for you and that works for you. However, there’s one time to avoid if you can, and that’s straight after lunch. The body tends to feel very heavy around this time of day, busy with the digestion process, and it is all too easy to fall asleep. This can be the same after a heavy evening meal too.
  • We’re so busy remembering, planning and analyzing life, that we forget to experience life—as it actually is, rather than how we think it should be.
  • When it comes to meditation, though, the goal and the journey are the same thing.
  • Without even being conscious of doing so, he jumped up from his seat in the middle of the temple and screamed out at the top of his voice, I can’t fucking do this any more. In a twist of cruel irony this was followed immediately by the gong, signifying the end of the hour and the end of the session.
  • Your mind is like this wild horse when you sit to meditate, he said, you can’t expect it to stay still in one place all of a sudden just because you’re sitting there like a statue doing something called meditation!