Ask Andy - A Community Question
I am on day 5 of take 15. I began the Headspace programme to try to help relieve my anxiety and depression. I am a little concerned as the daily programme feels as though it's becoming a chore and another thing on my daily to do list. I think to myself 'I need to do my Headspace meditation' and am relieved when it is 'over and done with' for the day which I know is completely the opposite of the purpose of the meditation.
Also through the whole 15 minutes I cannot stop thinking about the things that make me anxious/depressed or about what I need to do for the rest of the day e.g. what cleaning do I need to do, or what I need to do when I go to work. I have tried doing the meditation in the evening when the day is nearly complete but then I just end up thinking about what I need to do the next day.
I understand that the meditation is not about emptying thoughts from my mind completely but because the meditation is about trying to calm my mind and be in that moment, my mind automatically does the opposite. I have tried really hard to just 'be' and not tell myself what I should and should not be doing during the meditation but my subconscious just takes over. Is this a normal reaction to meditation that will ease off with time?
I guess there are two parts to your question. The first is a common one, this feeling that the meditation has become a chore. This comes back to the approach you have towards it, rather than the exercise itself. It's the same feeling many people get towards going to the gym or learning a new musical instrument or any other kind of new skill.
There can many reasons for this. One is a strong feeling of expectation, of wanting something to happen during the exercise or as a result of the exercise. Of course, when 'nothing' happens, we become a bit dispirited and lose some of our enthusiasm. We forget that it is not about making something happen, but instead simply being present for the exercise. It's also worth mentioning that at the time of writing you are only 15 days into learning this new skill.
Another reason, somewhat related to the first, is our motivation for doing the exercise. If the motivation is purely self-interested, then it is very easy to give up or to for it to feel like a chore. But if there is a strong sense of wanting to do it for those around us, those close to us, and maybe even far beyond that small circle, then all of a sudden it feels less like a chore and we become more engaged.
Finally, and perhaps the most important of all, is your own personal framing of meditation in your life. This may sound obvious, but if you think it is a chore it will feel like a chore, and if you think it's a treat then it will feel like a treat. For many people, meditation is so different from the constant bombardment of stimulation in everyday life that it can almost feel like an inconvenience or waste of time, but that's to miss the point entirely.
The point is that this is your one opportunity in the day to let go of thought, to let of responsibilities and commitments and to engage in a very special kind of 'not doing'. This is a treat, such a rare opportunity. If we can see this, then it ceases to be a chore.
In answer to your second question, as frustrating as this may well be, I would say you are probably over thinking the exercise a little. This is very common too. Everyone experiences these thoughts and everyone experiences a busy mind sometimes. The type of thought and the number of thoughts is not important - it is our reaction or response to these thoughts and emotions which is important.
It may sound abstract but, with practice, it is decidedly tangible. In short, follow the instructions, check your motivation, your expectation and in time it will happen quite naturally.
Keep reading the Headspace Blog for more question and answer sessions from Headspace Founder Andy Puddicombe.
Alternatively read more about the benefits of meditation.