Each month as part of our Intentional Growth Club, we read a book and hold a discussion night to talk about our takeaways from the book.
This month, as part of our theme of “Making Time for Renewal,” we read The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe.
The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness outlines the author’s method for meditating and creating “headspace.” Puddicombe became a monk after studying many types of meditation across the world, then went on to found his own company to help spread meditation to the masses.
The book outlines the process of Approach, Practice, and Integration. First, it lays out the foundation of how meditation and mindfulness work. He dispels many misconceptions that prevent people from getting the full benefit of meditation.
Next, the book describes several ways to practice meditation, including his Take10 method of daily mindfulness. Finally, Puddicombe explains how to incorporate that mindfulness into every aspect of your life to help your mind stay calm throughout the day.
Below, I’m going to share my three main takeaways from The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness.
1) Meditation is for Everyone
Many people are put off from meditation by thinking it has to be a religious activity or encompasses "alternative" beliefs. The truth is, everyone can benefit from meditation and it doesn’t need to be religious or spiritual at all.
The words “meditation” and “mindfulness” are often used interchangeably, with mindfulness often being used to avoid the religious associations of meditation. Puddicombe describes mindfulness as “the key ingredient of most meditation techniques and [it] goes far beyond the formal aspect of sitting down with your eyes closed. 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.”
I think most of us could probably use the time to sit down and quiet the mind. So many people are constantly on the go and their thoughts are racing, even when it’s time for bed. Practicing meditation and mindfulness is simply a way to calm your mind to process the thoughts and events in your life.
And anyone has the ability to attain this headspace. It is not only for gurus who have trained for years on top of a mountain. The clear space in your mind is always there, available for you to access, once you’re able to sweep away the crowding thoughts. You only need to learn how to practice and you’re on your way to a more peaceful mind!
2) Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Everyday Life
Another key point that the author makes is how important it is to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday life. If you only take ten minutes a day to meditate, that’s great, but it won’t help you as much as if you practice mindfulness all day.
Now, practicing mindfulness all day might seem overwhelming and intimidating at first. However, Puddicombe reminds us that, “mindfulness means to be present, aware of what you’re doing and where you are. You don’t have to do anything differently from how you would normally do it. The only thing you need to do is be aware.”
Mindfulness can be practiced any time and anywhere - brushing your teeth, exercising, eating lunch, playing with your children, mowing the grass, or cleaning the house. Whatever you are doing, you can focus on being more aware of what you’re actually doing instead of operating on autopilot.
Practicing mindfulness throughout the day also helps eliminate the excuse that you don’t have enough time. It doesn’t take any extra time out of your busy schedule - it allows you to go about your activities just like you always have.
This newfound awareness of your life can have a major positive impact. “What you’ll notice when you start to apply this approach to situations is that is has a very soothing effect on the mind. Not only are you present to experience everything you do (quite literally living life to the fullest), but it also feels very calming. And with calm comes clarity. You begin to see how and why you think and feel the way you do…Rather than being swept away by undermining or unproductive thoughts and emotions, you can respond in the way you’d actually like to.”
3) Meditation Takes Time & Practice
Meditation is a skill that can be learned and practiced, just like anything else. When you begin to practice mindfulness, it’s not going to be an immediate change. It will take time to learn how to quiet your mind.
However, don’t give up! The more you practice, the less easily you will be distracted. You likely didn’t learn physical skills like riding a bike or kicking a ball in a day, so when you expect to pick up mental skills immediately, you’re only setting yourself up for frustration.
In fact, with meditation, the harder you try, the more difficult it becomes. The more you work at pushing away thoughts or trying to relax, the more anxious you feel!
“It’s a common mistake to make in meditation, to search for some kind of experience or want to be rewarded with some sign of progress or fruition, but peace of mind or insight will always be illusive if we are trying too hard to find it.”
Try not to get caught up in comparing your meditation sessions with your previous sessions or with the progress of others. What progress in mental clarity looks like for you will look different for others.
Keep a mindset of “gentle curiosity” as you practice your meditation and mindfulness and allow yourself plenty of grace to learn and practice.
When I finished this book, I was also happy to find how much it spoke about the emotional intelligence competency of emotional self-awareness (albeit not in those exact terms). Improved mental clarity and calmness is just another one of the benefits of practicing emotional self-awareness. Once you start to look for it, you'll find emotional intelligence affects every aspect of your life.
“[Headspace] describes an underlying sense of peace, a feeling of fulfillment or unshakeable contentment, no matter what emotion might be in play at the 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.”
Be sure to join us on July 26th at 6:30 PM CST for our book club discussion on The Headspace Guide to Meditation & Mindfulness. You can register here: https://bit.ly/IGCBookClub If you can't make it, let us know what you thought about the book in the comments!
Our book for August will be Being in Balance by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer.