Everyone keeps talking about this thing called mindfulness, right? Ruby Wax about how this approach to life saved her, Goop-goddess Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it, Emma Watson regularly practices , and Sadie Frost owes her new lease of life - post-Primrose Hill-Party-set - to it. You can even do a PhD in mindfulness at - a sure sign it's a big deal. But what actually is it? Feeling a little misinformed and admittedly sceptical about the concept, GLAMOUR tracked down meditation and mindfulness expert Andy Puddicombe to get the 411. Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk who has released two books on the practice and founded the mindful go-to app , downloaded by people in 150 different countries. Here he provides us with a little crash course...
What is mindfulness?
In a nutshell, it's the intention to be present in the here and now, fully engaged in whatever is happening, free from distraction or judgment.
Why is mindfulness so popular all of a sudden?
The practice of meditation has actually been around for 3000 years but technology has really helped it explode it in recent years. There's simply never been a way to spread the practice to so many people so quickly before. This, along with the scientific research on meditation has really thrust it into the spotlight.
Is it for everyone?
Yes. If the practice is approached in the right way and with the right kind of guidance, pretty much everyone can meditate and experience the benefits of it.
What's the difference between meditation and mindfulness?
When we take time out to train the mind, that's meditation. When we apply that new-found awareness from our meditation to things like exercise and diet, that's more about mindfulness.
What are the top three benefits of it?
- Sleeping better
- Managing stress levels in the workplace
- Helping communication within relationships
Are there any dangers to it?
Meditation is entirely safe. Needless to say though, if you are undergoing any kind of medical treatment, therapy, or are concerned in any way at all, it's always best to check with your doctor or health practitioner first.
Do you have to have a great concentration span to be able to do it?
No. That's not what meditation is about. It's not about stopping thoughts and trying to concentrate on something else but rather becoming comfortable with the thoughts. Distractions are natural and are part of the process - and actually a better concentration span is something that will develop with time whilst practicing meditation.
To sceptics who say it's too "airy fairy - a fleeting trend" - what would you say?
There's a growing body of scientific evidence to support the benefits of this ancient practice, which is helping to negate the "airy fairiness" of it. This includes the psychological aspects, such as reducing anxiety and depression, as well as the physiological benefits, such as improving heart health or boosting the immune system. To feel the benefits is one thing, but to be able to prove them scientifically has enabled us to get even the most skeptical individuals excited and enthused about giving it a go.
Does practicing mindfulness interfere with religious beliefs?
Absolutely not. Meditation is defined by how you choose to use it, by your own intention.
Does diet and exercise come into mindfulness?
In short, yes. It's continually proven that a strong, trained mind makes it easier to get and stay fit, achieve our goals, and - with no extra effort required - even improve our fitness levels. Our mind defines our relationships with our body, our approach to fitness, engagement with exercise, and ultimately, the way we apply this vitality to everyday life.
Is there anything you need to stop doing to be mindful - for example, drinking alcohol?
No, nothing. The rest of your life can continue in as much the same way, although you may start to realise you approach things in a new way or view things in different lights after partaking in regular meditation.
What happens if you don't have time to meditate, what would you suggest?
Headspace's Take 10 program (10-minute audio guidance podcasts narrated by Andy) breaks meditation down into bite-sized chunks making it much easier to fit into busy lives. It takes up less than 1% of your day so it should be possible whatever your schedule. Ten minutes a day will start to make a huge difference.
Is it a lifestyle commitment?
Our aim is to get as many people to take 10 minutes out of their day, everyday to meditate. So yes, in that sense, we would like it to become part of everyone's routine and lifestyle - like brushing your teeth.
Find out more about Headspace . Take part in #TheBigTurnOff by leaving your phone at home this Valentine's Day and paying attention to your partner instead.
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