In last week’s post, I talked about “new and unlikely cheerleaders for mindfulness.” Another example just made the headlines. Turns out that meditation and mindfulness practices may help relieve post-traumatic stress in returning troops and keep them more focused in the field. Click here to read the Washington Post article about a new study on meditating Marines. Pretty dang cool.
“But How Do I Do It?”
I don’t have time! I don’t know how to do it! I don’t have a cushion! Hippies scare me! I’ve got work to do! I can’t sit still! I can’t turn my mind off! I’m not religious! I have more important things to do!
Really? More important things to do? What could possibly be more important than taking care of your mind?
Have you got a chair and ten minutes a day? I know you have a chair. And if you don’t think you have 10 minutes a day, well, you’ve convinced me even more that you would benefit from meditation.
Enter Andy Puddicombe, the former Buddhist monk and circus performer who founded the UK-based organization Get Some Head Space to spread the word about mindfulness. If you didn’t have a chance to check out his TED Talk in last week’s post, here’s the link once again.
My Experience With Andy’s Online Take 10 Program
Andy’s goal to “demystify meditation for the masses” appealed to me immediately. I had tried to learn meditation techniques through books, CDs and internet downloads, but churned myself into an anxious frenzy in the process.
I stopped meditating over the holidays when I couldn’t fit in the 30-40 minutes a day I had worked up to (and still believed wasn’t enough). Hearing Andy say that all it takes is 10 minutes a day to see some benefit, I was hooked.
Everyone relates differently to a teacher’s style. As soon as I saw Andy juggling in that video to explain the concept of mindfulness, I knew I had finally found my teacher.
After you go to getsomeheadspace.com and sign up for Take 10–Andy’s free program of 10 minutes of guided meditation a day for 10 days–you have access to your first session. Some of the days begin with a brief (1 minute or so) video of Andy introducing something new, other days it’s just the 10 minute audio guided meditation.
How Get Some Head Space Has Made Meditation Fun
What’s unique about Andy’s methodology is that it’s based on how easy meditation is. He emphasizes that this is the only time of day when you are not supposed to be “doing” or “creating” anything. You’re just stepping back a bit. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
He also guides you to consider your motives for meditation each day. My personal list would include increased calmness, clarity, and creativity, as well as better parenting and perspective. The list may change a little day to day, and certainly from person to person.
“The meditation is just as much about other people in your life as it is about you,” Andy says. He incorporates this into the meditation by having you think of the people in your life who will benefit from your having meditated.
(As I’ve noted before, I yell a lot less at my kids if I’ve meditated that day. It doesn’t stop there, though. I’m more patient with everyone else too. It’s not fool proof–remember, the Dalai Lama says even he gets mad sometimes–but it’s a big improvement over the angry Martha who often dominated my earlier adult years.)
It’s normal for thoughts to distract you during your session, Andy reassures his students. In fact, it feels like he’s right there with an answer to just about any worry or question you might have, if not in the audio session than certainly somewhere on the website.
Some of my favorite features on the website are the clever animations that illustrate mindfulness and meditation concepts. Even my teenage sons got a kick out of the cartoon brain with legs taking a break on a park bench.
If You Want More
I signed up for the free Take 10 program, and liked it so much that I subscribed to a year’s worth of Andy’s meditation programs for $7.99 a month. It’s a one-time fee of about $95 for the year, which comes out to just over 26 cents a day (and yes, it’s a service I do use every day). If you pay monthly, it’s a little more expensive.
In case you’re wondering, I am not a paid advertiser and don’t receive any commission for the recommendation. Andy doesn’t even know I exist, even though I invite him into my meditation space every morning and wake up to the sound of his voice.
The next stage is Take 15 (15 minutes a day for 15 days), then Take 20, which I’ve just started. After Take 20 the programs focus on different themes rather than increasing the length of the meditation. Each program builds upon the last.
What about you? Are you ready to give meditation a try?
And if you already meditate, what tips would you give a beginner? (My tip would be: “There is no such thing as a bad meditation session.”)