Mindfulness and meditation tips

Headspace's Andy Puddicombe took to Twitter to answer your questions about living in the moment

 } by Psychologies

Our July dossier is all about learning to live in the moment – from how to let go of the past to rediscovering the simple pleasure of food. To tie in with this, meditation expert Andy Puddicombe from Headspace took to twitter to answer your queries on mindfulness and demystify meditation.

@BasilCat123 asks: I am an over-thinker and I am always either in the past or over-thinking everything. I can't move from it. How do I move on?

The secret to letting go of the past and not drifting off to the future is to learn how to be present. Have you tried meditation?

@WiseGenius asks: Is it best to meditate sitting or can lying down work too?

You can meditate lying down or sitting up. Sitting up is best for a balanced mind. Many people fall sleep when lying down.

@CatJGoddard asks: I know this is 'basics' but I find it really hard to empty my head. Always fast-forwarding to the next thought!

Yeah, it’s better to think of it in terms of getting comfortable with thoughts and feelings rather than trying to stop them, in fact trying to stop thoughts in meditations is probably the biggest misconception around. Check out the Headspace site for tips.

@jen0883 what's best technique for letting go of negative thoughts that are constant?

The best way of letting go of persistent negative thoughts is to learn how to be present. Meditation allows you to step out of the loop.

@MaryEllenAlive Do you consider yoga mindful if you’re focusing on breath throughout? I find lying still challenging for 30 minutes.

You can meditate for as little as 10 minutes a day and still see a big difference. Try Take10 for free at getsomeheadspace.com. And yes, yoga is undoubtedly a form of mindfulness in action.

How can I keep calm inside? My mind gets too busy worrying when I know I shouldn’t. The worry manifests itself in my heart as pain.

If you experience tension in your meditation, rather than resist it, allow it room to breathe. This is what it means to let go.

When's the best time of day to meditate? 

The best time of day to meditate is the morning. It means you start the day feeling calm, clear and fresh. But be flexible - other times are OK too.

How can I get into sitting down and meditating when I'm great at procrastinating?

The best way to begin learning meditation is little and often. Checkout Take10 and the Headspace journey at getsomeheadspace.com

What's a good beginners time scale for meditating and how often? Daily? Weekly?

It’s best to try and meditate daily if you can, especially when establishing a new positive habit like this. But keep expectations realistic.

How can I remain mindful during the flow of everyday life?

We become mindful in everyday life by becoming more familiar with the quality of mindfulness in meditation. There is a natural crossover.

If I want to practice mindfulness, what exercise should I start with? 

Meditation is one thing. Mindfulness is another. Make sure you take mini moments throughout the day to come back to the here and now.

Can you teach mindfulness to children? At what age? 

Yes. Even children can learn meditation! Research has shown it helps them to relax, to focus, and even improves behaviour.

I did a guided meditation on a course but find it hard to meditate on my own.

Changing from guided meditation to non-guided can be tricky. That’s why we slowly wean you off the dependency for guided sessions at HeadSpace.

Is there any difference between meditating in your front room compared to meditating in an isolated cave in India?

No difference between meditating in the front room and in a cave in India. There are a few less distractions in the latter of course, but the essence is the same.

I've heard meditation is good for pain. Is there any truth to that?

Meditation has been shown to have excellent results for people with chronic pain. Check out our science page at getsomeheadspace.com for details.

There are loads of claims being made about meditation and it's benefits for health. Is there actually any proper evidence?

Meditation has also been shown to boost the immune system, reduce hypertension, lower cholesterol and even reduce incidence of insomnia.

What's the longest you've ever meditated for?

What’s the longest I’ve ever meditated for? Well, in one monastery it was 18 hours a day. But never longer than 3 hours in one go!

Do I have to meditate every day? 

Regular, daily meditation has been shown to promote creativity, focus, feelings of happiness and wellbeing, and emotional stability.

How can I use mindfulness to 'get in the zone' when I'm doing creative stuff?

Meditation is brilliant for promoting creativity. Try pausing, closing eyes and taking a few deep breaths before beginning activity. Remember that you can learn meditation and mindfulness for free at getsomeheadspace.com. Start with just 10 minutes a day for 10 days. You can also find out lots more about meditation and mindfulness in my first book, Get Some Headspace. If you have mindfulness questions specific to food, diet, body image and self-esteem, then check out my new book, The Headspace Diet. It’s all about making sense of food. So, if you struggle with comfort eating, binging or low self-esteem, then check it out. Thanks again for all your questions and for inviting me onto @PsychologiesMag. Best wishes from NYC! Over and out, Andy P @andy_headspace.

More inspiration:

Read Karen Ruimy on Meditation – Discovering your true self on LifeLabs