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Book Summary: The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness – How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day

Are you struggling to find inner peace in today’s overscheduled world? Do you struggle with anxiety, grief, or depression? “The Headspace Guide to Mediation and Mindfulness” explains how meditating and practicing mindfulness can help you find inner peace. In this book summary, you’ll learn how to easily incorporate 10 minutes of meditation into your daily life, no matter how jampacked your schedule already is.

Learn how using meditation and mindfulness can help you achieve clarity in your daily life, no matter how busy you are.


  • Want to become more mindful but don’t have time to meditate
  • Have unsuccessfully tried meditation in the past
  • Are looking for a way to be less distracted


From the time he was a young boy confronted with his parents’ divorce, author Andy Puddicombe had a hard time turning his thoughts off once they got going. He found his emotions — the good ones and the bad — all-consuming and had a hard time regulating them. A fluke introduction to meditation by his sister set him on a course that would later define most of his life. Although his early efforts were frustrating (he couldn’t obtain the mental stillness and silence he strove for), he constantly found himself drawn back to the concept of meditation. Then, a series of unbelievable tragedies struck, and Puddicombe found himself once more in need of a coping mechanism.

Book Summary: The Headspace Guide to Meditation and Mindfulness - How Mindfulness Can Change Your Life in Ten Minutes a Day

He left his college courses behind and set out to become a Buddhist monk. Although his road was long and had many stops along the way (at one point he trained to be a circus clown), he eventually found the inner peace he was looking for. In 2010 he founded Headspace, an organization designed to help others find the same clarity and inner peace he spent much of his life searching for.

Anyone can succeed in achieving mindfulness by following three steps:

  • Approaching: You don’t need to stop thoughts — you just need to stop worrying about them.
  • Practicing: Find the method of mindfulness that works best for you. Meditation is not one-size-fits-all.
  • Integrating: Incorporate meditation into your life in a way that you’ll actually practice it every day.

The Approach

Meditation is about more than just emptying your mind of thought. Unfortunately, many of us get so caught up in our failure to achieve that emptiness that we get frustrated and give up before we’ve ever really begun. That makes the benefits and the idea of continuing a seemingly fruitless practice not worth our very limited time.

To be successful, you must first understand that meditation isn’t about emptying your mind of thoughts — but instead, it’s about not reacting to the thoughts that crowd your mind.

Leslie found herself frustrated after her third attempt at meditation during her community center’s mindfulness class. Each class, she approached meditating the same way — by listening to the instructor’s soothing voice as he told her to let it go and relax. Each class, she focused as hard as she could on pushing away the thoughts that kept creeping in: “Did I remember to pick up dog food? Is my dentist appointment this Tuesday or next Tuesday? Did I ever put my mom’s birthday card in the mail?”

Although she tried as hard as she could to relax and let it go, the thoughts seemed to intrude even harder. It was exhausting. She left each class feeling stressed, and her mind felt even more crowded than it was before. Soon, she grew so frustrated by her inability to silence her thoughts during class that she decided to quit.

When she approached her instructor to explain why she was leaving, he told her that the point of meditation wasn’t to stop thinking but to stop worrying as much about the thoughts that were entering her mind. While she couldn’t prevent herself from questioning whether she had picked up dog food, she could decide not to worry about it while she meditated.

This practice goes for unpleasant and pleasant thoughts alike. During meditation you want to avoid worrying about whether you’re going to need a cavity filled at that dental exam, while also not daydreaming about that slice of cheesecake that’s waiting in your fridge at home. Although one thought may seem inherently bad (the dental work) and one good (the cheesecake), they’re both distractions when you’re trying to clear your mind. While you’re meditating, you want to try and relinquish the control these thoughts have over you, instead of preventing them from entering your mind in the first place. Allowing them to pass through, without attributing too much negative or positive energy toward them, will help you clear your mind.

You can apply this practice beyond thoughts and extend it to your senses as well, learning to look past any physical or auditory sensations you may be presented with during your daily 10-minute sessions.

The Practice

Now that you understand how to better approach mindfulness and meditation, how do you succeed with it? As with any other new skill, you’ll need to practice in order to become more adept.

Before you begin, you should determine what your goal is. Are you looking to simply become more mindful? If so, you may decide to take a more laid back and unstructured approach. But if you’re looking to combat a medical condition or health concern, you may want to be more diligent and targeted in your approach. Also, knowing what you want to get out of meditation will help you recognize the benefits as you uncover them.

As a beginner, having something to focus on will help you concentrate. This item — a piece of crystal to look at, for example, or a quietly spoken word — can help drown out anything that’s going on around you and help you get into the zone. You can even use your own breathing as a focal point — a practice you may find especially helpful if you’re trying to meditate in public.

Jane had been working on a spreadsheet all morning, but she still hadn’t figured out why her numbers weren’t adding up to what her partner’s numbers. They tried putting their heads together and even asked a few of their coworkers, hoping a fresh set of eyes would reveal something new. However, they’d gotten nowhere, and their presentation was rapidly approaching. Panic was beginning to set in — but before Jane let it take hold completely, she decided to try clearing her mind before giving the spreadsheet one more look. By focusing on her breathing and drowning out the faint chatter coming from the cubicles around her, Jane was able to clear her mind. On her next pass over the spreadsheet, she immediately identified and fixed the problem, saving both her and her partner from an embarrassing presentation to their boss.

This isn’t to say all problems can be solved this way. Sometimes, the only thing you will gain from 10 minutes of meditation is 10 minutes away from your problems. However, sometimes you can gain new insight or understanding as to why you are experiencing a certain problem or emotion.

The Integration

There are four possible positions for meditating. In addition to sitting (the position you’re probably most familiar with), you can mediate while standing, walking, or lying down. For many of us, these are the four positions that we spend most of our time in, so getting good at meditating in all of them gives you more opportunities to integrate the practice into your daily life.

Next time you’re in the shower, instead of rushing through each task to get to the next, take a moment to focus on what you’re doing as you complete each task. Feel the sensation of the soap suds on your hands as you lather your hair and the way your fingertips press into your scalp. How does the water feel on your eyelids when you close your eyes and stand under the showerhead? Does the air feel humid once it enters your lungs?

This awareness of your surroundings and what you’re doing can help you feel more present in the moment. Instead of letting your mind fill up with all the things on your to-do list, allow your mind to focus on these other sensations. Eventually, you may gain some perspective as to how your mind works. For example, why are you always so anxious about getting gas in the morning before work? Is it because, deep down, you’re afraid of running late?

You don’t need to be completely alone to practice awareness. Most people are so wrapped up in what’s going on in their own minds that they’re rarely focused on the people they’re with. Instead of being mired in the chaos of your thoughts when spending time with another person, use your time more wisely by focusing on what the two of you are doing. If you’re sharing a meal, try being more aware of every bite your take, paying particular attention to the flavors or textures you’re experiencing.

Once you understand that you can incorporate mindfulness and awareness into any action you’re performing, it will be easier to do it more often — even as you’re brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, or waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. For example, muting your thoughts by focusing on the feeling of the shopping cart against your palm or the gentle whir of the belt as the cashier moves your purchases to the register can help you integrate mindfulness into your daily life. This also serves as a reminder that you don’t need to spend hours locked away by yourself in a room to be mindful.

While largely internalized, the practice of mindfulness can also help you connect more to those around you. Learning how to limit your distractions and truly focus on what’s going on around you can help you be a better listener and teach you to be more aware of the things that go unsaid. This makes you a better friend, spouse, and parent.

You can also gain new perspectives on old problems. The headache you’ve had for a few days suddenly reveals itself to be a toothache once you’ve taken the time to quiet what’s going on around you and focus on the pain. Mindfulness can also help you understand why you can’t seem to fall asleep at night — a problem you attributed to your inability to shut off your mind at night may actually stem from the discomfort of a stiff pillow.

Practicalities; Getting Started

You only need 10 minutes a day to start seeing benefits, so your biggest hurdle is just getting started. You don’t need to be in the perfect state of mind to begin — you only need to be in a state where you can pursue awareness. When you’re first getting started, it’s best if you’re not experiencing an extreme emotion — if you’re too angry or too excited, you may not be able to focus. With enough practice, your emotions won’t matter, and you’ll be able to meditate in almost any state of mind.

At first, you’ll also need to find a location where you can concentrate until you learn how to meditate anywhere. You’ll want to be dressed in something you’re comfortable in, and your position should be a comfortable one as well. And you may find it easier to close your eyes.

Once you’ve found a way to get started, make sure you’re practicing meditation each and every day. You don’t always have to meditate in the same way — the important thing is consistency.

Suggestions for Living More Mindfully

There are many ways to be successful when it comes to meditation and mindfulness. Perhaps some of the most impactful ways, however, have more to do with the way you already see your life. After all, mindfulness won’t actually change your life — it will just make you more aware of what’s going on inside of it.

Here are some suggestions for living more mindfully.

  • Be mindful of the way you communicate. If you often find yourself screaming at your children or unable to have a discussion with your spouse without it turning into an argument, pause and notice these instinctive reactions and emotions.
  • Try to have a grateful heart. Take time to enjoy the good things that come into your life (not just the bad things).
  • Be kind to yourself and others. If you’re dealing with guilt over the way you treated someone, that may leave you with a heavy heart.
  • Compassion and balance also play a role in your clarity. Accept what you can change and move on. Try to release impatience and let go of old frustrations — they provide no benefit and only weigh you down.
  • Stay dedicated. The more you practice mindfulness, the more mindfulness you’ll achieve.
  • And remain present in the moment.


Everyone can benefit from meditation and mindfulness — all it takes is 10 minutes a day. But just like anything else in life, practice makes perfect. Daily meditation can help you gain insight and clarity. Even if you’ve tried meditation in the past and failed to see any positive effects, try following these steps to help you achieve different results this time around:

  • Approaching: You don’t need to stop thoughts — you just need to stop worrying about them.
  • Practicing: Find the method of mindfulness that works best for you. Meditation is not one-size-fits-all.
  • Integrating: Incorporate meditation into your life in a way that you’ll actually practice it every day.

About the author

Andy Puddicombe is considered the foremost expert on mediation and mindfulness in the United Kingdom. The former Buddhist Monk is the founder of the company Headspace, an organization that strives to make meditation more accessible to anyone interested in pursuing it.