It’s no secret that Americans are suffering in the mental health department. Suicide rates are climbing, we’re plagued by loneliness and social media, and our happiness index is at an all-time low. Perhaps that’s why spiritual practices that promote peace and well-being and ease anxiety and depression are having a bit of a moment.
After all, in addition to alleviating stress, meditation can help enhance self-awareness, fight addiction, generate kindness, promote positive thinking, reduce memory loss, lengthen your attention span, help you sleep, control pain, decrease your blood pressure, re-wire your brain, and make you more present. Some studies have even shown that it can help people stay sharp well into old age.
Much of the meditating masses—well, 30 million, to be exact—rely on an app called Headspace, which guides users through the basic mechanics of meditation and teaches several different techniques (whether it’s as simple as focused breathing or as advanced as visualization exercises). The wildly successful app was launched in 2010 by entrepreneur Richard Pierson and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe.
Puddicombe is best known as the voice (and face) of Headspace, thanks largely to his silky smooth, whispering British delivery that successfully lulls its users into a trance-like state. Recently, Puddicombe spoke with Alexandra Sifferlin, the Health and Science Senior Editor at Medium, about what his typical day looks like, and we’ve revealed the top secrets to his own routine right here. So read on—and we hope you can find balance in your life. And if mindfulness sounds like something you’d be interested in, check out how I Went on a 3-Day Spiritual Retreat and Here’s Why You Should, Too.
Get Up Early
“Every morning, I wake up at 5 a.m,” he said. “In my early twenties, I traveled to the Himalayas to study meditation. I spent 10 years traveling around the world and was eventually ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India. In the monastery, we got up at 3 a.m., and when my son Harley was a baby, I got up at 4 a.m., so 5 a.m. doesn’t feel all that early. I love that time of day, and I always feel excited for the day ahead. It also allows me to exercise before anyone else in the house has woken up, so I have more time with the family. I don’t use an alarm clock unless I have a flight.” And, for what it’s worth, scientific studies have confirmed that it’s actually super healthy to be an early-riser.
“The first thing I do after I wake up is take a few minutes to appreciate that I’ve woken up,” he said. “Then I exercise for an hour.” Indeed, the Yale Happiness Course cites studies showing that taking a five to ten minutes every day to write down five things you’re grateful for can add a major boost to your well-being.
“I get exercise by running, cycling, rowing, surfing, stretching, and playtime with our kids,” he said. Whatever your preferred method of working out is, remember that Science Says Exercising Will Make You a Happier Person.
Maintain a Vegan Diet
Puddicombe said his typical eating schedule consists of, “a vegan Core bar crumbled with nuts, dried fruit, and a local farm’s sheep yogurt for breakfast; a plant-based chocolate protein smoothie with almond butter for lunch; and a vegan grain bowl with lots of fresh veggies and tempeh for dinner. As someone who trains a lot, I get a little extra help from Vega protein supplements and some of their recovery products.”
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
“I’ve stopped worrying about life,” he said. “On the one hand, we have limitless potential, and so every single moment is vitally important. At the same time, life is impermanent, temporary, and ever-changing, so there is nothing to worry about or hold on to.”
This sounds a lot like the advice postulated by Jane Fonda, who said not sweating the small stuff is the key to agelessness.
Shutting Down Before Bed
“Right now, my nightly routine is bath and bedtime stories with the kids, dinner with my wife, more bedtime stories with the kids, watching a show with my wife, more bedtime stories with the kids, checking my email one more time, and then preparing for the following day before bed,” he said. That’s a lot better than scrolling through Twitter or watching Netflix before you pass out. And for more on how to end your day right, check out the One Thing You Should Never Do Before Bed.
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