Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually it's about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going — without judgment, but with a relaxed, focus mind. - Andy Puddicombe
We live in an incredibly busy world. Many of us through the day at a frantic pace, our minds constantly busy with one thing or another. The fact is that we’re so distracted that we are no longer present and, despite efforts to be slow down, we often miss out on the things that are most important to us. Sadly, people assume that this is just how things are these days. But I don't believe it is how it has to be, and either does Andy.
Andy Puddicombe is a prolific speaker on mindfulness. He believes that what mindfulness meditation ultimately boils down to is taking a break not just from work but from our mind, "which so full of anxieties about the world and anxieties about its own anxieties." In his Ted Talk "All it Takes is Ten Mindful Minutes", Andy challenges listeners to recall a time when they did a absolutely nothing for just ten minutes. Ten minutes free from emailing, texting, Internet, TV, chatting, eating, reading, even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Simply doing nothing.
Andy points out that the present moment is underrated: It sounds so ordinary, and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it's anything but ordinary.
There was a Harvard research paper that said on average our minds are lost in thought almost 47 percent of the time. Forty-seven percent. At the same time, this sort of constant mind-wandering is also a direct cause of unhappiness.
The beauty of mindfulness is that even though it only takes a few minutes a day, it impacts our entire life. We just need to know how to do it; an exercise and framework to learn how to be more mindful. That's essentially what meditation is. It familiarizes ourselves with the present moment. But we also need to know how to approach it in the right way to get the best from it.
What usually happens when we're learning to be mindful is that we get distracted by a thought. Being distracted during meditation is a very common experience, a part of the learning process. Expect some frustration and then see how to cope with it rather than trying to run away from it. Meditation isn’t about getting a certain experience but about experiencing whatever is happening right now.
Blissful experiences come and go. Painful experiences come and go. You just keep watching without holding on to either. The practice itself does the rest.
As Andy puts it:
We can't change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it. That's the potential of meditation, of mindfulness. You don't have to burn any incense, and you definitely don't have to sit on the floor. All you need to do is to take ten minutes out a day to step back, to familiarize yourself with the present moment so that you get to experience a greater sense of focus, calm and clarity in your life.