Ask Andy: Questions from our Headspace Community

January 28, 2013

Ask Andy: Questions from our Headspace Community

Headspacer Question:

"I just want to get a measure of my experience against others. It's a simple question - how much time during meditation do you think about the breath, and how much time do you think about work, home, the kids activities, last night's tv, etc etc?

I spend probably 90% of the time on the latter things, and about 5-10% on the breath (that's probably optimistic actually). Is that unusual? I don't worry, and it doesn't make me feel stressed, just my mind wandering around. When Andy says 'let your mind wander', mine already is, always!

I have no idea how to address that balance and I have tried since I started meditating (12 months+)..."
 

Andy's Answer:

Thanks for your question. It's an interesting one as I've just answered a very similar question in regards to awareness in everyday life. How mindful should we be? How much should we expect from our practice? Am I getting anywhere with this mindfulness stuff? All very normal questions you'll be pleased to know, regardless of whether we are focusing on the meditation itself, or on our ability to be present in the here and now throughout the day.

If it is 10% then that's actually very good - based on this assumption and a continued effort over the next 10 years you will be 100% aware in 10 years time. Some people spend their entire lives trying to reach this point, even giving up their careers and family life to reach this point. So nothing to worry about with 10%. 10% is very good.

You might like to try something though. Rather than counting the breaths or thinking about following the breath in terms of 15 minutes or so, try just focusing on one breath at a time. By that I mean make one breath an exercise of it's own. Be present with the rise, wait for the fall, be present with the fall. That is one exercise complete. Then begin the next one in the same way.

What this does is isolate the object of meditation. It generally increases the focus and, because you will complete the exercise far more often, it leads to a greater feeling of satisfaction and progress. Breaking the practice down into bite-size chunks like this can really help a lot.

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