Ten Percent Happier

I’m returning to mindfulness and meditation after a patchy few years away from the practice. As an artist creating autobiographical theatre work, it is important that I am able to observe my current behaviour, and foster that reflection which allows me to compare it to my prior experiences.

But I’d become quite bored of returning to Headspace again and again and again over the years. I couldn't come back to the same intro courses and not feel embarrassed or ashamed that I had let it slip again, repeating the same material for the fifth - or sixth, maybe even seventh or more - time.

So when my therapist brought meditation up, I asked him what he used: Ten Percent Happier. I had seen the app before but got a discouraging sense that it was targeted at tedious white male business men. But I trust my therapist, so I gave it a go.

To be honest, the first video of the co-founder (a white guy, late 40s, wearing a suit) introducing the teacher for the free introductory course (another white guy, late 50s, wearing an even worse suit) didn’t help.

That introductory course did a nice job of dispelling some common assumptions about meditation. These are the two I find myself trying to explain most:

  • That the aim is not to silence the mind, but to notice when thoughts and sensations appear;
  • That distraction is an important and expected part of the process—returning to mindful presence from a distraction is the main thing you're practicing.

So I think the introduction via Ten Percent Happier is a lot better for meditation sceptics. After that? Well I’m only on day three of the next course, but it’s already a winner.

It’s dubbed the ‘Getting Unstuck Challenge’ and I have felt quite stuck lately. The first session on self-compassion was a powerful one. It started to use meditation as a framework to explore how it feels to express a simple positive sentiment about yourself.

I felt warmth and acceptance and care and comfort and it seemed to unlock pieces from therapy, recent experiences with friends and family, and to help me accept that perpetual, unconditional love that I don’t always feel worthy of. It was just one ten minute session, but the days after have been different in a way I’m still reflecting on.

The next two sessions took a similar tack, using meditation as a way to run scenarios and see how thoughts, memories and physical sensations arise in a mindful state. It’s a very new way for me to approach meditation and I’m intrigued.

So consider this a tentative recommendation. I’m working on building up this meditation practice as a habit and it helps to be around people who reinforce this - so let me know if you do, or if you’re curious!