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AdviceOver Effort

Over Effort

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So how much effort we apply to our Headspace, ultimately it sort of defines our experience of Headspace. Sometimes the, just the right amount of effort, it happens quite naturally. It's almost as though we get out of our own way and we just sit down and there it is. We don't know why it's there one day and not another to begin with, but there it is. And then sometimes is that feeling that either it's because we're so used to doing things all the time, or we've been busy all day that we're doing things, or sometimes it's because we're trying so hard to project an idea of what we want our Headspace to be that we're not even giving the experience room to breathe. We're not even providing the framework or the opportunity to experience that we'd really like to experience. We're almost getting in our way a little bit too much. So traditionally, the way this was taught was to liken it to a musical instrument or something. So let's say it's a guitar string or something like that, and if the guitar string is strung too tightly, then it sounds off key. If it's too loose, it sounds off key. So we need to kind of tighten it to just the right point where we find, you know, that perfect note. And in the same way, when we sit to meditate, if we're too loose, it doesn't feel right, we feel too sleepy. If it's too tight, it doesn't feel right, we feel too tense. We need to find that balance in between the two. Now over-effort can be driven by a lot of things. Sometimes it is kind of just, it feels like it's in our DNA, we just kind of, we're very ambitious, always striving or something like that. Sometimes it can be conditioned behavior. It's how we choose to live our life. So maybe we weren't like that when we were younger, but we've chosen to live in such a way that for now it's really hard to imagine not pushing hard at anything. The important difference here when you're getting some head space is that it's not about doing. As soon as we remember that it's not about doing, then all of a sudden, that idea of applying too much effort doesn't really make sense anymore 'cause we're not having to do anything. We're just watching, whether we're watching the breath or visualization, whatever it might be, there's no real kind of effort involved. But even once we know that intellectually, it's not as though everything suddenly changes. And if it is a habit that has been built up over many years, often kind of decades, it takes a little time to unwind, so we need to kind of be as patient we can with ourselves, that idea of kindness, not judging the mind, and equally not trying to try not to try. And it's such an easy rut to get...


Duration5 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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