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I’m having trouble focussing on just one person in the Relationships pack

by Andy Puddicombe

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Question:

Hey Andy,

I’m a big promoter of your app as a teacher in the Netherlands.

Currently I’m doing the Relationship pack but it’s tiring me out. Focusing on one person who I want to feel better is short-circuiting my mind. Every time I start the exercise I try and focus on one person. But without fail I get distracted to help more. If I help just one person my mind seems to tell me I’m cheating on others or makes me feel guilty for not also helping others. I fast forward person #1 and go to person #2 and #3 and up to ten or so in the 15 minute exercise.

Hope you have any tips.

Andy’s answer:

Many thanks for promoting the app in Holland!

Yeah, the mind is like this sometimes. It likes to think a lot, to keep us busy, distracted and entertained. It does not mind if we think about the laundry or the technique, whether we feel sad, happy, guilty or angry, as long as it can keep us engaged, holding on…anything other than letting go.

Whenever we start a new technique it is useful to remember that the way we approach and experience the technique will often reflect how we are in other areas of life. After all, it is the same mind, whether we are meditating or not. It’s also worth knowing that some techniques are harder than others and that it can sometimes take a little while to settle into them.

All that said, it sounds as though there may be some unintentional over-conceptualization of the exercise, and the feeling of guilt you mention arises from this thinking. When we love one person, in that moment, we love every person. Love is love, we either feel it in that moment or we don’t. If we are experiencing love in the present moment, then that extends to everyone, regardless of whether we are thinking of them or not. It is only when we start to think about love that it gets complicated. In contrast, the feeling of love is decidedly *un*complicated.

So although the exercise separates this idea toward self, other etc, it is just a way of training the mind and there is nothing to feel guilty about or any need to adjust the technique. To the best of my knowledge this technique has been working pretty well for just over 2000 years, so as much as possible, it’s best if we follow it and simply observe when the ego resists or tries to change the exercise in some way – not in a critical or judgmental way, but just to notice in the spirit of awareness and understanding. And if we can smile at it when it arises, then that’s even better(!).

Warm wishes,

Andy

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.