By Andy Puddicombe for YouBeauty.com
Do you ever get the feeling that life is passing you by, as though you are always playing catch up? Does it feel as though your mind is like a monkey, constantly jumping from tree to tree, without ever stopping to rest? Do you sometimes feel as though your emotions interfere with your relationships? And what about your health: Could you do with feeling more energized and sleeping better?
Who wouldn't want to live a healthier, happier, more enjoyable life? And if there were a pill that offered us all of the above, most of us would take it in a heartbeat. So what if I were to tell you that meditation has been scientifically proven to do all of this? Seriously -- everything from feeling less stressed to being kinder, more empathetic and more altruistic.
Naturally, when we hear the word "meditation," the mind may well cringe at the idea of sitting cross legged on the floor, bells chiming and incense burning. The good news is that none of that is necessary. In fact, meditation is going through somewhat of a rebranding exercise of late, with everyone from athletes, movie stars and business leaders signing up.
How mainstream is it? Well, at my company, Headspace, we've had over one million people try our free Take10 program, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Emma Watson, and we'd love for readers to experience the benefits, too. You can download the free Headspace app and give it a go for yourself -- just 10 minutes a day for 10 days.
Before you sign up, though, here are my top five tips for getting started with meditation:
Make the time.
No matter how busy we are, we can all find 10 minutes in the day to unwind the body and mind. We just need to prioritize it. Think 'same time, same place' as much as possible, as this will help to turn it into a healthy habit. Of course, you'll need to be more flexible on some days. And with the app in hand, you can do it anywhere, sitting comfortably on a chair. Schedule it in your diary if necessary -- you won't regret it.
Free your mind.
Meditation isn't really about clearing your mind, so the pressure's off. It's more about learning how to be comfortable with the mind, no matter how distracted it is. Funnily enough, as we get more comfortable with meditation, the mind tends to clear quite naturally anyway. As much as possible though, when you begin to meditate, do it with an open mind, free from expectation -- simply stay curious about the process itself. The more you can do this, the more helpful it is.
Enjoy the rest.
Believe it or not, meditation is a treat for both the body and mind -- 10 whole minutes of complete rest. No emails, no social media, no disturbances. This is a rare thing, a beautiful thing. It's tempting to feel a little lost at first without any distractions, but the app will guide you through exactly what you need to do and before long, this will be your favorite, most enjoyable and most relaxing part of the day.
Take your time.
Like learning any new skill, meditation requires regular practice to really experience the benefits. So don't be at all surprised if you find the mind is still very busy after just a few days of meditating. This is perfectly normal and simply means you're human. Give it time, be kind to your mind and make sure you give it at least 10 days or so before drawing any conclusions.
Just do it.
It's a funny thing, even though we know something is good for us and even though we know we will feel better afterwards, the mind can still sometimes play games with us. Thoughts like "I don't have time to meditate"; "I'm too stressed to meditate"; and "I won't be any good at it" are all very common. Allow them to arise, see them clearly, smile at them for what they are -- just thoughts -- and then meditate anyway.