Will Meditation Work For Me?

July 27, 2014

Will Meditation Work For Me?

Each week we feature a couple of Andy's answers to questions he has been sent by members of the Headspace community about their meditation practice. Here he answers a question from someone worried about whether meditation will work for them.

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Question

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 to why even try. Any advice you can give me is really very much appreciated.

Answer

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

Everything else is just thinking, just ideas or old patterns of behaviour 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 read about in the papers about it being used to reduce stress, improve sleep and so on.

But those things are just side effects, nothing more than that. 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, then 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.

To begin with 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 3 months 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 Day1 to Take10.

When you’ve done that, commit to Day2. 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 to experience and enjoy the many benefits of meditation.

Warm wishes,

Andy

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Do you have a question you'd like to ask Andy about any aspect of your meditation practice? Simply visit the Andy's Answers section of our community forum where you'll find instructions on sending your question in, as well as all the questions he has answered to date.

We also recommend you check out our FAQ section, which is full of helpful tips and insights to ease you along your Headspace Journey. 

Finally, if you are heading away this summer please read our Mindful Traveller blog and listen to the holiday podcast Andy has recorded here, and if you know anyone going away please share it with them! 

4 Comments on this article:

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1

Shiv99

19 hours ago

That is very useful advice. Thank you.

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meditator-0c075c7794

July 29, 2014

Andy, you say "there is no goal or result intended". But at the start of each meditation session, I'm asked to think about "why I am doing this". Is there a contradiction here, or have I misunderstood something?

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vhamal

August 1, 2014

That's a good point! I sometimes find myself getting a little stuck in that question too as I start to think about all the different reasons why I want to practice meditation. Then Andy moves on and I panic because my motivation for that day ("keep it fresh") is still not clear :) Maybe that's something to think through before the session?

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Felinelover

August 6, 2014

I found this really useful. I want to reduce anxiety and have been really struggling with the meditation. This makes me realise that I was making my goal 'to reduce anxiety' rather than just to do the meditation.... Hoping that this insight will make it easier next time