Meditation For Beginners: A Review Of “Headspace Guide To Meditation” On Netflix

woman meditating by water with lavender sunset
Reading Time: 11 minutes

When you think about the practice of meditation, you might picture an old, disheveled yogi in oversized clothing. He’s sitting cross-legged at the foot of an ancient temple. With his eyes shut, the yogi plunges into a deeper trance. The palms of his hands are turned up towards the sky and his long beard brushes up against the dusty earth beneath his feet.

Andy Puddicombe’s (PUDDY-come) “Headspace Guide to Meditation” on Netflix paints a vivid picture of the art of meditation; a timeworn practice that’s experiencing a global revival today.

Puddicombe is the co-founder of the mindfulness & meditation app, Headspace, and this documentary is a godsend just as we begin to lose our collective shit thanks to Covid.

The series presents itself as a meditation for beginners guide. And by the end of Episode 1, you’ll learn that you can be just as mindful as Mr. Yogi From The Temple.

On the QWERTYdelight About Page, I admonish you to devote more time to mindfulness and self-reflection (especially during Covid-19) and less to sitting on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and M&Ms as you binge a never-ending cycle of newly released content across your many streaming memberships.

But this week I’m feeling extra generous and will grant you a hall pass to watch Puddicombe’s “Headspace Guide To Mediation.” I’ll even forgive your thrifty, flannel pajamas as you consume each of the eight episodes in this effervescent series.

From ice cream melting before your very eyes to trimming grass with a pair of scissors, you’ll find that there’s enough space (pun intended) to tackle the troublesome aspects in your life that you secretly wish upon somebody else.

What’s more, “Headspace Guide to Meditation” walks you through key exercises that teach you, among other things, how to cope with stress, how to manage your rampaging anger and how to be kind to those who are perhaps undeserving of your kindness.

So without further ado, below are the life-changing benefits of meditation, summarized to get you quickly into a mindful groove. You’ll find that in no time you’ll be harnessing your inner “chakra” and decluttering your mind like a pro!

MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS:

woman sitting in meditation pose

EPISODE 1: HOW TO GET STARTED

This episode explores the origins of meditation as a spiritual practice and offers sound advice to the beginning meditator: to focus on your breath as thoughts come and go in your mind (and they definitely will.)

A common misconception about the practice of meditation is that the meditating subject must keep “intruder thoughts” from penetrating the mind.

But this idea of repelling or pushing thoughts away creates resistance in the mind. And it’s this resistance we must let go of should we wish to achieve a sense of inner peace.

In other words, meditation isn’t about shutting the door to your thoughts. It’s about letting them in, acknowledging them and politely opening the back door so that they’re free to go.

Hopefully, acknowledging the fleeting presence of your stampeding thoughts will allow you to bring your attention back to your breath. And why is that important?

Because focusing on your breath can help slow it down. 

And why is that important?

Well, I’ll let my friends over at the BBC take it from here.

Do you have a favorite meditation technique? If so, send it to info@qwertydelight.com for a chance to be featured in our next meditation story!

breathe in neon pink cursive on computer screens

EPISODE 2: HOW TO LET GO

To channel your inner yogi, Episode 2 focuses on the technique of “visualization.” 

Imagine, for instance, that your mind is a great blue sky.

Sometimes, this peaceful, vast blue becomes tainted by the negative thoughts swimming in your mind.

Suddenly, dark gray clouds form along the edges of your blue expanse, expanding like mounds of cotton candy.

These are the 99 problems encroaching on the space in your mind that threaten to swallow your “inner-sun”; that’s to say, your sense of inner calm. 

Sadly, your once cloudless sky becomes a thundering cyclone. It aims to destroy everything in its wake!

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  

Using Puddicombe’s visualization technique, you can “will away” this tempestuous sky by imagining a faint light emanating from your core, perhaps right below your belly button, intensifying and expanding outward in all directions, inching towards your extremities, until, finally, you feel a comforting warmth flowing to your brain.

You feel relaxed. You experience calm. You forget about the shitty weather in your mind.

You realize that the blue sky — that clear space in your mind — will always be there. You just need to “create a condition for the clouds to dissipate,” Puddicombe says.

Visualizing that luminous space within can lead you to some well-deserved R&R.

sunlight in cloudy sky

EPISODE 3: HOW TO FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE

With its focus on the topic of gratitude, I’m not sure that this episode’s aptly titled. But it’s nonetheless vital on your journey towards mindful meditation.

Rather than showing you a clear-cut path to “falling in love with life,” Puddicombe asks that you take a moment to reflect on the things in your life that you’re grateful for.

He asks, who or what do you appreciate most in life?

This question can stump even the most put-together person on this planet! But don’t stress if you can’t think of a grand answer. You’ll find that a simple cup of coffee can represent the quiet moment in your life that you covet more than anything else.

This is the case with Puddicombe’s former client who admits (quite shamefully) that what he appreciates most is his morning cup of coffee, as opposed to something more profound, like affording a comfortable living for himself and his family.

Comforts aside, his morning ritual of grinding coffee beans and enjoying his caffeinated beverage alone offers him respite from a stressful job, the demands of his family and other overwhelming factors.

And in a world where responsibilities pile up like an unsteady stack of Jenga blocks, it’s important to covet whatever it is that fills you with a deep sense of calm. 

If this seems selfish, that’s because it kinda is. 

But it’s actually a selfless act in disguise. 

In my article about parents “stealing” time away from their kids, I argue that much-needed “me-time” can benefit everyone in the household and do more good than harm in the long run. 

Taking the time to focus on things that bring you a greater sense of joy will in turn delight those around you.  

So rejoice, dear reader, for there’s no damn shame in shutting the door to the world and enjoying your cup of coffee undisturbed.

coffee cup on wooden table

EPISODE 4: HOW TO DEAL WITH STRESS

This episode tells the sad tale of the “ice cream that could have been.”

A dear friend of mine has a similar tale. 

When she and her brother were kids, her grandfather used to take them to the ice cream parlor on Sundays, but sometimes they never made it inside of the parlor. 

Instead, they’d sit on a bench across the street and watch other kids happily enjoy scoops of delicious ice cream on a hot summer day.

Why?

Well, her grandpa was up to something:

Like the Himalayan monks of Puddicombe’s tutelage, my friend’s grandfather understood that we don’t need the damn ice cream.

(I’ll wait a few seconds as you suffer through the manic symptoms of ice cream withdrawal. Kick and scream as much as you like because — guess what — it will never change the fact that you can live without it.)

Puddicombe’s thoughts? 

You can replace ice cream with anything.

That’s to say, you can change the way you feel about anything. 

You simply need to isolate that one thought and study it from multiple angles. Doing so can help you uncover the traps of what I like to call “superfluous indulgence.”

Moreover, practicing the technique of “noting,” as explained in this episode, can help you isolate these thoughts, acknowledge them and get you back into the groove of mindful meditation.

ice cream melting on sugar cone

EPISODE 5: HOW TO BE KIND

Continuing our Meditation For Beginners journey, we enter the realm of Ellen.

But before we discuss the bubbly tenets of kindness, let me ask you: have you ever told someone (including yourself) that you need to “sleep on it?”

If so, you likely understand the value of a well-rested and clear state of mind to view things in a brand new light.

Puddicombe says that letting go of harsh judgments that we inflict upon ourselves and others while practicing self-compassion can make space in our minds for things that truly matter so that we can finally view them in a brand new light.

To tap into this innate ability and express compassion towards ourselves and others, Episode 5 of “Headspace Guide to Meditation” introduces the technique of “loving kindness.” 

In this lesson, we follow the elegant peacock through a green savannah as we organize a list of judgments we’ve made about ourselves and others. The peacock is a symbol of beauty, self-confidence, dignity and protection (to name a few.) And I fully intend to be reincarnated as this majestic creature in my next life (given that unicorns aren’t an option.)

To sum up, practicing loving kindness can help us clear our “judgey” minds by visualizing the happiness of others, even when we aren’t particularly fond of them.

lotus floating on shimmering water

EPISODE 6: HOW TO DEAL WITH PAIN

To quote Dr. Ford from “Westworld,” played by Sir Anthony Hopkins: “pain exists only in the mind.”

In Episode 6 of “Headspace Guide to Meditation,” we learn the “body scan” technique, or how to relate to our mental and physical pain differently. By practicing this exercise consistently, we can transcend the agony we experience while in the throes of pain. 

Puddicombe tells the story of a man (let’s call him Adam) who attends a meditation retreat he organized a few years ago. 

At first, Adam isn’t able to sit up straight at the start of each meditation practice, but by the end of the retreat (and many body scans later), Adam can finally sit like the rest of his cohorts, much to their applause and cheers of hip-hip-hooray!

That’s not to say that Adam no longer lives with chronic lower back pain, or that it disappears as if by magic. If that were the case, we’d all be meditating-away our afflictions and discomforts like a pack of enlightened fools!

Sadly, Adam’s pain persists, but the not-so-sad part is that he’s able to manage his pain through mindful meditation. He understands exactly where it resides. He’s forged a healthy relationship with it. He can observe it from a distance and acknowledge it for what it is.

Using the body scan technique, Adam acknowledges his pain without suffering and finds comfort in discomfort.

And what’s more awesome than that?

(Well, vanquishing the pain itself would be more awesome. But baby steps, people. Baby steps.)

man sitting on dock lake with mountain view

EPISODE 7: HOW TO DEAL WITH ANGER

Think of a moment in your past when someone made you hella-angry.

They set your blood to a rolling boil and activated your porcupine needles. You were ready to slice-and-dice that person and make them rue the day they double-crossed you!

Have you thought of that moment yet?

Have you pictured that person’s face in your mind?

Got it?

Good.

Now, try putting their happiness before yours.

(Huh?)

Don’t huh me. (You heard me right!)

In Episode 7 of “Headspace Guide to Meditation,” we learn the liberating technique of “skillful compassion.” According to Puddicombe, this practice can help us “transform [our] anger into something more positive.”

I, for one, didn’t get the memo on skillful compassion when my parents divorced.

How could Mom and Dad break the family apart? I thought.

I was 13 when my parents ended their 18-year marriage. I was angry beyond reason and thought that I could cope with this pain by locking myself away in my bedroom, as I often did, to write down my feelings.

Back in the day, I found that expressing unpleasant words was easier for me to do by writing them down on a piece of paper than expressing them verbally.

Shortly after my parents signed their divorce papers, I wrote a letter to my father (intended for my eyes only) about the woman he was seeing right after he separated from Mom. I blamed this other woman for wrecking my parents’ marriage and breaking my family apart. 

I don’t know how that letter ended up in my father’s hands days after I’d written it. Perhaps I left it somewhere carelessly, like a criminal leaving a trail of evidence because he secretly wishes to get caught.

My words hurt my father deeply. But rather than apologize, I — the blundering 13-year-old who didn’t know shit about shit — used my anger as a defense in the courtroom of Life. I blamed my father for fucking things up, but there was more to the story than I was capable of understanding at such a young age.

We eventually buried the hatchet and each Suazo moved on to bigger and better things. It took visualizing my parents’ potential to be happy only by ending their marriage to overcome my anger.

In hindsight, it took a lot of guts for my folks to call it quits. And as a result of their rupture, they were able to forge brighter futures for themselves and work harder at sustaining the loving relationships that followed.

“Imagine you can remove all their difficulty so they can be happy,” Puddicombe says. “Breathe out everything good in your life and share that with the other person.” 

And then stay with that feeling for as long as you can.

happy girl with heart balloon

EPISODE 8: HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR LIMITLESS POTENTIAL

Ah.

Limitless potential.

Sounds great, right? 

(Not so fast!)

In Episode 8, we take the previous seven lessons to the next level and find out if we’re ready to earn a yellow belt in meditation-karate, so to speak.

The technique in this final episode of “Headspace Guide to Meditation” is called “resting awareness.” 

Different from the other techniques in the series, this one offers the prospect of achieving inner peace by meditating without focusing on anything at all.

That means no more points of focus to rely on. No visualization to anchor us and keep us from drifting out to a turbulent sea.

That’s right, people! It’s time to remove the training wheels and see what we’re made of!

In this exercise, we must let go of the storylines that occupy valuable real estate in our minds. 

To achieve this, we must allow all invading thoughts to come and go as we remain open to receive them. 

We might shift from thought to thought and experience emotion upon emotion. This can be a daunting task: anger, despair, resentment and other unpleasant feelings can creep in and threaten to override our tranquility.

But without focusing on anything, we can learn to invoke feelings of gratitude, happiness, wonder and prosperity just as easily as those other pesky thoughts.

These positive emotions inform our acts of kindness, our ability to manage pain, our potential to cope with stress and, finally, our human right to unlock the resplendent state of inner peace.

stones stacked in tower formation

FINAL THOUGHTS:

“Headspace Guide to Meditation” is a noble and important mission that couldn’t have arrived at a more crucial time. Sure, it relies on seamless imagery and playful animations to hold your attention, but it does so beautifully as each story unfolds.

It’s a series worth your time — you, the person who believes that inner peace can be achieved through mindful meditation; a practice that’s not only reserved for the yogi who sits cross-legged at the foot of an ancient temple.

But for you as well.

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Ginell Castillo
Ginell Castillo
1 year ago

Love it. Thanks 😊

Danielle
Danielle
1 year ago

Love your writing and insight, a true delight!!:) will definitely be watching it. Thank you!🥰

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