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What if I can’t meditate?

by Andy Puddicombe

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This might sound silly. But I’m scared it won’t work and I can’t or won’t be able to meditate. I read everywhere how important mindfulness is and I am worried I won’t be able to achieve it. It worries me so much I am almost too afraid to commit to following the course properly. I’ve always suffered with a racing mind and over anxious thoughts and sometimes I think habits are too hard to break and I won’t succeed so why even try. Any advice you can give me is really very much appreciated.

Andy’s answer:

Thanks for this question. Well, you probably already know what I’m going to say…there is no way to know how something will be until we try it.

Everything else is just thinking, ideas or old patterns of behavior which threaten to prevent us from ever trying anything new. It sounds as though you may have already thought quite far ahead about the possible outcomes or results, which will only add to the feeling of hope, fear, expectation and pressure. The beauty of meditation is that it is without goal. That may sound contrary to all the stuff you hear about it being used to reduce stress, improve sleep and so on.

But those things are just side effects. Meditation itself is about letting go of any need to try and get somewhere or achieve something. So if we are approaching it in the right way, there is no pressure whatsoever. In fact, it may just be the very first thing we have ever done in our entire life where there is no goal or result intended. This is quite a liberating feeling. All that meditation asks of us is that we train the mind to be less distracted.

When we begin, of course, we will be very distracted – after all, that’s why we need to learn meditation. But then, over time, very slowly usually, we become less distracted and start to experience more of the benefits. But it happens just one moment at a time. We cannot be in the present moment, focused and undistracted and at the same time worrying about what our progress will be like in three onths time and worrying whether we will meet our own expectations. In order to be present we have to let go of those things. And that’s really what the training is all about. So forget about any result, any idea of failing – it’s impossible – and simply commit to day one of Take10.

When you’ve done that, commit to day two. Taking it just one day at a time and resisting the temptation to try and judge your progress in any way will help you begin in the right way and experience and enjoy the many benefits of meditation.

Warm wishes,


Andy Puddicombe

Andy Puddicombe is a meditation and mindfulness expert. An accomplished presenter and writer, Andy is the voice of all things Headspace. In his early twenties, midway through a university degree in Sports Science, Andy made the unexpected decision to travel to the Himalayas to study meditation instead. It was the beginning of a ten-year journey which took him around the world, culminating with ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India. His transition back to lay life in 2004 was no less extraordinary. Training briefly at Moscow State Circus, he returned to London where he completed a degree in Circus Arts with the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama, whilst drawing up the early plans for what was later to become Headspace.