ANDY PUD­DI­COMBE Co- cre­ator of Headspace app

Learn to em­brace a mul­ti­tude of thoughts and feel­ings.

ELLE (Canada) - - Guest List - BY ANDY PUD­DI­COMBE

THE GIG Pud­di­combe, a for­mer monk, spent 10 years learn­ing to med­i­tate. The L.A.based Brit clears up com­mon mis­con­cep­tions in “Com­fort in Chaos.” PEACE­FUL PUR­SUIT “Med­i­ta­tion isn’t about clear­ing your mind; it’s more about learn­ing how to be com­fort­able with the mind no mat­ter how dis­tracted it is.”

When most peo­ple think about med­i­ta­tion, they imag­ine a clear, blank mind. That’s def­i­nitely what I thought it was. Be­fore I quit uni­ver­sity in Eng­land to spend 10 years in var­i­ous parts of Asia study­ing med­i­ta­tion to be­come a Bud­dhist monk, I imag­ined that I would be sit­ting on a moun­tain­top feel­ing to­tally blissed out—that I would have no thoughts at all for many years. The re­al­ity is that it’s the na­ture of the mind to think, and we can’t con­trol it. If we were able to con­trol the brain and turn off our thoughts, there’d be no need for med­i­ta­tion. It doesn’t mat­ter how hard you try to clear your mind, ei­ther. In fact, if you have an anx­ious thought, try­ing to clear it of­ten makes you feel more anx­ious, which can be frus­trat­ing. And then you’re not just anx­ious—you’re also an­gry. And once you’re anx­ious and an­gry, there’s a good chance it’s go­ing to make you sad. This hap­pens all day, ev­ery day, in our minds. It may go on for just a few min­utes, it may go on for the whole day or it may go on for weeks at a time.

Med­i­ta­tion is not about turn­ing off thoughts or search­ing for a clear­ing; it’s about step­ping back. It’s a way to help you let the thoughts pass by, like traf­fic on a busy street; what’s im­por­tant is not get­ting caught up or stopped by those thoughts. So when a feel­ing or thought comes up, that’s okay. It comes, it goes and it doesn’t bother you—that’s the real sweet spot. You can’t op­er­ate in life with a clear mind all the time. Any­one can have peace of mind when they’re feel­ing calm and clear; med­i­ta­tion is about at­tain­ing a peace­ful mind when it’s clouded with thoughts. Learn­ing to be at ease even when the mind is busy is amaz­ing. What tends to hap­pen is this: The more you learn the be­hav­iour of step­ping back, the more the thoughts start to slow down nat­u­rally—and from there you’ll find a lit­tle bit of calm. When you’re calm, you get a bit of clar­ity, and clar­ity leads to more con­tent­ment. At that point, there’s usu­ally more space in your mind. And when you’re less caught up in your own stuff, there’s more room for com­pas­sion for oth­ers. ■

Pud­di­combe is the co-cre­ator of the med­i­ta­tion app Headspace. It’s avail­able at

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