I have written about this before in various guises, but here is a simple truth about me: I am not always a great Completer-of-Things. Thinker-of-Things, most definitely. Planner-of-Things and even Starter-of-Things, absolutely. And if I ever get around to completing even a fraction of the things that I think or plan or start – or just dream about while I look out the window – look out, World.
However, since I am now 8/10 of the way through my current Headspace meditation trial, I figure that it’s safe to say that this is something I’ll definitely complete. And so I wanted to share it with you here, in case you haven’t heard of Headspace or their ‘gym membership for the mind’, starting with a free trial program of 10 minutes a day for 10 days.
According to their website (and, I’ve got to say, my experience over the past eight days), Headspace is all about ‘meditation made simple’. Not woo woo woo pan pipe music, cascading waterfalls and bird calls, but proven meditation techniques with a scientific foundation. Treat your head right is their tag line, which sounds like an excellent idea to me.
Headspace was started by Andy Puddicombe who, according to a quote on the website from the New York Times, “is doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver has done for food”. Only not charging quite so much (or offering branded tea towels and crockery, at this stage). I’d first seen Andy juggling his way through an interesting (and relatively short) TED talk – you can check it out here if you like – about the importance of mindfulness and, in a nutshell, making time to give our overly busy minds a rest on a regular basis. Another excellent idea.
The Headspace site and app are easy to navigate, pretty to look at and fun to use. With clever animations and images, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that after I complete the initial 10 day challenge, I’m going to subscribe to get access to their other mindfulness and meditation wares. AND I WILL USE THEM. Look out, World!
I know I posted about meditation last week (on that note, the Deepak & Oprah 21-day challenge started yesterday: so far, so good!) but clearly the universe is trying to tell me something as I have come across another sort of meditation site with one of the coolest domain names ever: calm.com. I really think it’s worth having a look if you get a chance – especially if you’re having a not-so-great day and need a virtual getaway.
You can choose either a 2 minute, 10 minute or 20 minute ‘guided relaxation’, then you select your ‘scene’ from a whole range of images and background sounds (that go together). You can pretend you’re relaxing on a deserted beach (without any pesky seagulls), or chillin’ by a mountain lake, or watching the rain come tumbling down (without getting your hair wet). The moving image is accompanied by gentle sounds that really do take you to another place. Until that annoying colleague taps you on the shoulder or that pesky person next to you on the bus starts to eat an egg and tuna sandwich.
I really like the idea of meditation. I struggle with the execution, but I really like the idea. So many people swear by it as a key to happiness, health and wellbeing – and I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely a key that I’d like to have. As with a lot of people, I have one of those ‘monkey minds’ that finds it a bit tricky to slow down and focus (or not focus, I guess) on meditating.
A few years ago, I was doing a course at the Happiness Institute here in Sydney (where the unhappiest person was actually a nun, whose convent-mates sounded like a pack of she-devils – but that’s another story for another day) and one week the class was about meditation. We had to sit there and meditate – on cue, sitting on the uncomfortable hard chairs, under the glare of fluorescent lights, tired and distracted after a day at the office (or convent). I tried, I really did. But all I could do was hear sounds from the outside world – oh, there’s a garbage truck; hey, that’s a bird; aha, the door just opened; what a crazy ringtone. That kind of thing.
I was optimistic that I’d be a star meditator when I was rested and relaxed during a week at the fabulous Gwinganna health retreat in Queensland a couple of years ago. After dinner one night, they brought in a monk (I think he was a monk) to lead us in a meditation. It was a freezing cold night, we were sitting on a hard wooden floor, we hadn’t had caffeine or alcohol or sugar for days and nearly everyone was twitching. And throughout the meditation session (we weren’t meant to close our eyes), the monk kept CHECKING HIS IPHONE. Uh huh. Not sending messages or playing Angry Birds or anything like that, but leaning over and touching the button to check the time. I wondered if he had maybe booked back-to-back meditation sessions on that cold mid-week night up in the remote Gold Coast hinterland.
But I’m not giving up on meditation – I’m trying again. With the big guns, Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra, no less. They’re offering a free 21-day Meditation Challenge through the Chopra Center, including daily emails with guided meditations and inspirational bits and bobs from Oprah and Deepak. It kicks off on 11 March and if you’d like to get on board, you can sign up here. I don’t know much more than that, to be honest, but it’s gotta be worth a try, right?
I’m aware that today’s post will definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea, but that might kinda even be the point. Most of us are so busy, busy, busy that we don’t really stop and think about things. I mean big picture things, not what type of lettuce to buy or what time bus to catch or what colour top to wear. Stumble Upon recently steered me towards an amazing site called Thought Questions. It’s based on a very cool idea (or, at least, an idea that really appeals to me): “A question that makes you think is worth asking…So we ask one new thought-provoking question every day”. I like it a lot. And if you feel like sharing, you can enter your answer to the daily question or tell your story.
But back to the actual questions – the creators of the site suggest that “the questions posted here should be reviewed regularly when you have some quiet time to think. After all, reflection is the key to progression.” Amen to that. They remind visitors that there are no right or wrong answers to the questions asked. Anyways, enough jibber jabbering, here are some examples for you…
They use cool images with their thought-provoking questions. Looking through the archives was an interesting experience – I rolled my eyes at some, wanted to wallpaper my apartment with others, and considered sending a few on to different people I know. If you’re interested, you can like Thought Questions on Facebook or sign up for the daily question to be emailed to you. The website is here if you’d like to check it out.