What I Learned About Being Present from “Meditation and Mindfulness”

Grab my notes from “Meditation and Mindfulness” and see what Andy Puddicombe has to say about being present.

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FROM PAIN CATASTROPHIZING TO MEDITATION

I have had a fascination with meditation and mindfulness ever since I struggled with chronic pain. My illness left me panicky, worried and anxious at all times. I could never stay in the moment and deal with it in baby steps. Everything went immediately to worst-case scenarios and what ifs.

While my pain has improved (or at least my reaction to it), this year has thrown us all for a loop in how we deal with fear and anxiety. You may not be dealing with physical pain like I do, but to some degree, we all deal with some form of worry.

The best way I have learned to combat my own anxiety, is through learning about meditation and mindfulness–the practice of being present in the moment and learning how to deal with your thoughts in a healthy way. Mindfulness emcompasses so much more than gratitude and slowing down, and I feel like there’s no better teacher to get you started on this than Andy Puddicombe, the founder of my favorite app, Headspace.

Andy’s book, “Meditation and Mindfulness” walks you through his story as a college dropout turned circus performer turned monk—yes, you read that right—and how he learned about the transformative practice of meditation.

His story takes the intimidation out of meditation and equips you with realistic tools for helping you cultivate a healthier mental state through simple daily practices.

“We don’t think twice about exercising our bodies and yet the well-being of the mind tends to take a back seat.”

-ANDY PUDDICOMBE

MY NOTES FROM “MEDITATION AND MINDFULNESS” BY ANDY PUDDICOMBE

WHAT DO PEOPLE USE MEDITATION FOR?

  • To relieve day to day stress
  • As a way to practice mindfulness and learning to be present
  • As a tool toward deeper spiritual growth
  • To help improve relationships with others

SAMPLE PRACTICES OF MEDITATION

  • Practice do nothing
  • Tune into your senses
  • Observe your physical sensations
  • Focus on good and bad sensations
  • Awareness of your feelings
  • Mental body scan

“[Meditation is] about training in awareness and understanding how and why you think and feel the way you do, and getting a healthy sense of perspective in the process.”

-ANDY PUDDICOMBE

ANALOGIES FOR DEALING WITH YOUR THOUGHTS

  • BUSY HIGHWAY (learning not to chase the cars, but simply observe and let them pass by)
  • BLUE SKY (that the thoughts may come and go, but the blue sky is always there if you look for it)
  • THE WILD HORSE (reigning in your thoughts slowly and gently instead of with force and anger)

RESEARCH ON MEDITATION & MINDFULNESS

  • Many mental health professionals recommend mindfulness-based meditation techniques to their patients.
  • Meditation triggers areas of the brain related to happiness.
  • Mindfulness reduces negative emotions.
  • Meditation lowers the stress-response in the body.
  • Mindfulness helps with reducing anxiety.
  • Meditation helps with pain sensitivity.
  • Meditation helps combat destructive impulses.
  • Mindfulness helps you focus on tasks.
  • Meditation aids in falling asleep.
  • Meditation helps improve age-related mental declines.

“When we feel angry the world can look very threatening: we see situations as obstacles and other people as enemies. And yet when we feel happy, the world can appear as quite a friendly place…The world around us has not changed that much, but our experience of that world is radically different.”

-ANDY PUDDICOMBE

BASIC STEPS TO A MEDITATION PRACTICE

  1. Get comfortable
  2. Start with deep breathing
  3. Count your breaths (this is where the longest part of the practice and focus is)
  4. Let the mind wander for a minute
  5. Gently open your eyes

“It can sometime feel as though we’re so busy remembering, planning and analyzing life, that we forget to experience life–as it actually is, rather than how we think it should be.”

-ANDY PUDDICOMBE

EXAMPLES OF MINDFULNESS DURING THE DAY

Being mindful simply means that you’re giving full attention to whatever you’re doing. It’s a practice of being present in the moment, instead of thinking about where you’d rather be or wishing things were different. Here are a few examples:

  • “Walking meditation” where you observe the things around you without getting distracted by your thoughts
  • Giving your full and undivided attention to someone when they’re speaking instead of waiting for your chance to talk
  • Enjoying an activity your kids choose to do together instead of wishing they’d pick something different
  • Eating a meal without watching TV or checking your phone
  • Absorbing yourself in a good book on Sunday night rather than stressing that it’s almost Monday morning
  • Being in tune to the smells while cooking a meal instead of rushing to get it done

10 SKILLS FROM BEING PRESENT AND LIVING MINDFULLY

  1. Perspective
  2. Communication
  3. Appreciation
  4. Kindness
  5. Compassion
  6. Balance
  7. Acceptance
  8. Composure
  9. Dedication
  10. Presence

“Just because we experience a thought doesn’t mean we have to react to it, or act upon it…we actually have the ability not to take thoughts too seriously.”

-ANDY PUDDICOMBE

ORDER THE BOOK

To order your own copy of “Meditation and Mindfulness” by Andy Puddicombe, click here:

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