Life. One minute you’re lazing on a beautiful tropical beach, getting ready to go for a frolic in the crystal blue water. The next minute…a shark appears. And that’s how things are for me right now, since we are in the midst of a karmic shitstorm. Not that I believe in karma in the traditional sense, but a cosmic spanner has definitely been thrown into the works, making just about all of our plans grind to a halt.
Times like this are the very epitome of “Keep Calm and Carry On”, except that I am not good at either Keeping Calm or Carrying On. I am more of the “Have a Conniption then Take To One’s Bed” school of thought. I do not profess to claim that this is an effective means of coping, it’s just how I am wired. I am fight or flight to the very extreme, because my parasympathetic nervous system has a hair trigger.
A couple of years ago, I started dabbling with meditation as a means to cope with coming a little unstuck in my Astrophysics MSc. I know it is a bit #fwp, but that was seriously one of the roughest times in my life. I am not sure I would have found the strength to complete my MSc if it hadn’t been for finding a way to process my stress and despair through meditation. I have never been particularly rigorous with it: I don’t do it every day like I probably should, and I don’t do it for very long. But I think that, much like physical exercise, doing even a little bit every now and then is a whole lot better than nothing at all.
So when my dear close friend* (* may not be true) Gwyneth Paltrow featured an introductory meditation program on GOOP a couple of weeks ago, I went directly to Headspace to check it out.
Get Some Headspace is a meditation website and mobile phone app that was founded by Andy Puddicombe, who spent over a decade as a Buddhist monk and then decided to try and make meditation as accessible as possible to everyone, regardless of their religious background: and so Headspace was born. To start out, all you have to do is sign up at the site (or in the app) and then you can work your way through a free introductory series of 10-minute guided meditations, along with some helpful little animated tutorials about how best to benefit from meditation.
I really enjoy how Headspace makes meditation seem really approachable. In other meditation “regimes”, like TM or Zen, there is an intimidating level of rigor (and/or metaphysical/religious trappings) that never quite appealed to me, which is a shame because the benefits of meditation shouldn’t just be felt by the few who have lots of money, lots of discipline, or lots of time. I’m really glad that Andy has drawn on his experience to share with us a more friendly and easy approach to meditation. No sitting cross-legged on the floor for an hour, here, I promise! (Unless you want to, of course.)
In the past year or so, I have used other meditation apps and guided meditation podcasts, and each have their own style, but I definitely like the friendliness and reassurance of the Headspace meditations. They do a good job of putting you right at your ease so that you genuinely can benefit from doing nothing for 10 minutes a day. The first 10 days are totally free, so why not give it a go?