We caught up with Andy Puddicombe the founder of ‘Headspace’ to find out more about this revolutionary mindfulness app.
1. Tell us more about Headspace and how you aim to help people achieve clarity through using the app.
Headspace has been created to improve the health and happiness of the world. We aim to do this by using science and technology to make mindful meditation simple and accessible to anyone.
2. How did you go from studying sports science to becoming a Buddhist monk?
I dropped out of university because I was having a really tough time. I didn’t know how to deal with my thoughts and emotions, and I had a very busy mind. Just before going to university I’d been involved in an accident, in which a couple of friends of mine died, and that left me with a lot of questions. And while I enjoyed university and all the normal student stuff, I didn’t feel like it was answering any of these questions – so I ended up having a sort of early mid-life crisis.
I was studying Sports Science at the time and although it’s a difficult thing to put into words, one day I just found myself thinking, “I really want to become a Buddhist monk”. I had been introduced to meditation earlier in life as my mum was interested in it, and done a fair bit on and off throughout my teens. In retrospect it sounds crazy, but at the time it felt like the most natural thing in the world and a very easy decision to make.
3. What has your relationship with food been like throughout different stages of your life?
Whilst I was at university, I was taking part in competitive gymnastics so I was very dedicated to my health and was very controlled about what I ate. Since then I have adopted a more relaxed approach. My wife and I tend to stick to a predominantly vegan diet – much of this was practiced as a part of my treatment with cancer. I like to eat fresh and healthy food as much as possible but will have the odd treat now and then.
4. You mention in your TED talk that your meditative journey began when you travelled to the Himalayas to become a Buddhist monk. Do you think Headspace would have come about if you hadn’t followed that route?
I don’t think so as it was though my experiences as a monk that made me want to make meditation accessible – and also through meeting my business partner Rich Pierson. I also wouldn’t have the qualifications to do what I’m doing now if it hadn’t been for that. It has been all rather serendipitous and I am very thankful to be in the position where I can now share these useful tools.
5. How can Headspace help our readers to become more mindful in relation to the food they eat and lifestyle they follow?
At Headspace we define mindfulness as the intention to be present in the here and now, fully engaged in whatever is happening, free from distraction or judgment, with a soft and open mind. Meditation is a simple exercise of familiarisation with the qualities of mindfulness. Therefore, the more you use Headspace to meditate, the easier it will be to be mindful in everyday life – including eating and diet. With time it just gives you a little bit of perspective on routine decisions that can otherwise made on autopilot. The app also features an On-The-Go section which includes 10 minute meditations that you can apply to everyday activities such as Commuting, Eating and Walking.
6. Could you share some of your advice to our readers on how to get started with meditation and how to quieten the mental chatter?
Give Take 10 a go – it only takes up 10 minutes of your day and it’s free. You can then see the benefits for yourself. I would also say that meditation isn’t about trying to control or quiet the mind. It is about being at ease with your mind.
7. What’s your favourite country in the world and why?
There are lots of special places for me. The UK is still very important to me, as it is where my family is. I now love being based in LA, I’m a keen surfer and there is no shortage of blue sky. Many of the places I trained as a monk I certainly hold dear to my heart, especially Russia.
8. What three morning rituals do you always follow?
I wouldn’t say I have a ritual as such, and with a little baby, the routine I once had does get shifted around a bit, but I will always meditate every morning and wherever possible I try and get a surf in.
9. What’s next for you and for Headspace?
We are about to launch a new book and we have a variety of new content going onto the app very soon – watch this space!
Download the Headspace app from www.headspace.com