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How easily distracted are you? To what extent does your mind wander while working, cooking, watching a film, driving, or even when in conversation with others?

The bad news is that, for most of us, the mind wanders like this a good bit of the time. The good news, however, is that it doesn’t have to be this way. By training in mindfulness, we can learn to be less distracted, more present, and more connected with the people and the world around us. So instead of thinking about life, we are actually living and experiencing life to the fullest.  

There are many ways to learn to be more mindful, and every single moment of the day is another opportunity to remember that quality of mind and be present. Until we are really familiar with that quality of mind, that’s not always so easy. That’s where meditation comes in. Meditation helps us become more familiar with what it means to be present, so we can carry that back into our everyday life and experience it whenever, and wherever we are.

To be clear, meditation and mindfulness cannot necessarily change external circumstances, or remove us from difficulties, but they can help us to experience those challenges in a different way, where we have more space, a greater sense of calm, and are therefore able to respond to things without feeling so overwhelmed or getting swept away by our thoughts.  

Before we get into the featured content for the month of May, you might notice a new video or two in the app, featuring Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe. We finally let him out of the studio to venture far and wide, exploring what it means to live more mindfully. “Everything In Between” is a journey of the human condition, from birth to death and, well, everything in between. Check out this video about mindful tech if you’d like to discover how to apply mindfulness to technology, and how to discover a little more sanity amongst the ever-increasing digital chatter.

Putting Down Our Phones - YouTube

May’s Featured Collection: Living Mindfully

The more we meditate, the more we look after the health of our minds. May is both National Meditation Month and National Mental Health Month, so use this collection of exercises to infuse a little more mindfulness into your days. Find these meditations in the “Featured” topic in the Headspace app, or by clicking the links below.

That’s Life

It’s all too easy to rush through our days, going from one thing to the next, without looking up. But life is not something that should pass us by without us paying attention. These exercises are designed to help us better connect with ourselves, and the people and environment around us.

  • Mindful Tech (single) – our phones and devices don’t have to steal our attention or compete with the attention of loved ones. In this exercise, we learn how to be less reactive to every ping and notification, so we can better connect with people, not technology.
  • Connect With the World (walk) – found under Movement & Sport, this exercise takes you out of your head and into the surrounding environment for a walk, to reflect on the sights and sounds around you, and the sensations you feel within.
  • Eating With Appreciation (single) – instead of scarfing down your next meal the moment it’s in front of you, take a moment before you eat to appreciate the food, the flavors, and your senses.
  • Commuting (single) – don’t turn up at the office or home feeling stressed. Use this exercise to prepare for the day ahead, or to unwind on the way home.

On the Job

Work life can be challenging enough without adding other anxious elements to the mix, such as delivering a presentation or speech or having a tense conversation with a boss or colleague.  But there’s no need to sweat — we’ve got you covered.

  • Presentations (single)just the thought of giving a presentation can be nerve-racking for some people, so, discover a place of quiet confidence to help you get out of your own way, feel bold, and smash it!
  • Difficult Conversations (single)the prospect of a difficult conversation, especially if it involves a conflict of some kind, can drive feelings of anxiety. So use this exercise to help develop a calmer, less reactive mindset before you express yourself.

Finding Balance

Taking time out for ourselves, to breathe, reset, and renew, is an essential part of maintaining our equilibrium and unwinding. Treat these exercises and advanced meditations as your release-valve.  

  • End of Day (single) – whatever your day has been like, at work or at home, don’t take it to bed with you; instead, unwind with this exercise to calm the inner-chatter and find a place of rest.
  • Burned Out (single) – when you feel at the end of your rope — overwhelmed, overstressed, and overworked — this is the exercise for you, to give your mind some room to breathe and be present.
  • Semi-Guided (timer) — if you’re one of those people who prefers a little guidance balanced with a little quiet, this semi-guided meditation is the perfect halfway to encourage you to sit that little bit longer in periods of silence.
  • Pro Level 1this unguided meditation covers 10 sessions, at the end of which your mind will likely behave more independently and be okay with prolonged silence, helping to cultivate more calm and clarity.
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This post by sleep scientist Dr. Jason C. Ong is part of our Sleep Health course. You can experience the full 14-day course with a subscription to the Headspace app.

Well done on making it all the way to the end of the Headspace Sleep Health course. I really hope that it’s helped you to reframe your approach to sleep.

Let’s take a moment just to recap all that we have learned:

Awareness is everything

Looking for that sleepy feeling, just like we do in the body scan, is so helpful for sleep. If it’s not there, don’t force it. Let it go and wait for sleepiness to occur.

Can’t sleep? Don’t.

When you can’t sleep, don’t just lie in bed thinking resentfully about your sleep. This can create negative associations with your bed. It’s much better to get up and do something relaxing. You can even use one of Headspace’s Eyes-Open Nighttime singles. <deep link>

Consistent wake-up

Remember that your circadian rhythm begins with your wake-up time, not when you go to bed. So try to get up within a 15-minute window, even on weekends, so you can avoid social jet lag.

Develop your wind-down routine

The hour or two before you go to bed is the best time to signal to your body that it’s time for sleep. Developing a little sleep ritual, with some relaxing activities, is a fun and helpful way to approach this.

Don’t chase the traffic

When the mind is too busy for sleep, remember to just watch the traffic. Here’s that animation again, if you’d like to remind yourself.

Headspace | Meditation | Changing Perspective - YouTube

Relax your grip on sleep

Remember to practice those mindfulness techniques, like Beginner’s Mind and letting go. Having very rigid outcomes in mind for your sleep can actually be counterproductive when it comes to drifting off.

Be kind to yourself

Remember to practice self-compassion, even on those days when you’ve slept badly. Make sure you get some nurturing activities into your day.

When you look at this list, are there one or two actions that especially stand out to you? In this case, make it a priority to stick to these practices and habits. Committing to small changes like this can add up to bigger changes in your overall sleep.

Looking forward

Now that you’ve started on this journey, let’s talk about keeping it going. There’s so much material in the Headspace library for you to continue your meditation practice. But also consider these two pointers:

Maintain your mindful stance

Being mindful isn’t something you only do when you meditate. It’s the attitude that you bring to your daytime and your nighttime life. By applying ideas like Beginner’s Mind, Letting Go and non-attachment to outcomes in your day-to-day life, you could be considerably less stressed when you try to sleep at night.

Keep meditating!

Your meditation practice can be a great anchor for your sleep health. It’s sometimes said that your attitude to meditation reflects your attitude to life. So keep showing up for yourself. It only takes a few minutes, and it can really change the rest of your day. Not to mention, your nights.

Headspace | Meditation Tips | Elephant: Slow and Steady - YouTube

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This post by sleep scientist Dr. Jason C. Ong is part of our Sleep Health course. You can experience the full 14-day course with a subscription to the Headspace app.

If you’ve been having trouble with sleep for a while, it’s very easy for life to start to feel like a struggle.

This is a little exercise that you can use to help you get a better picture of how you’re expending energy during the day. It can come in really handy when you’re exhausted after a rough night, and even simple tasks start to feel overwhelming. It only takes a few minutes, and it can help you to make more mindful decisions about how you spend your time, which can reduce stress, and help you get better sleep in the future.

First, begin by creating a list of the activities that you typically do during any given day. It doesn’t have to be totally exhaustive, but just a general picture of an average day will do to start.

Once you’ve got your list, go through it and try to rate each activity as either Nurturing or Depleting, based on the effect they have on your energy levels. Consider how you feel after spending time doing each one. More energized? That’s a nurturing activity. More fatigued? You got it: depleting.

Tally up the number of nurturing vs. depleting activities, until you have a ratio of N:D. This ratio should show you the energy balance across your day. If the number of depleting activities is greater than the number of nurturing activities, then overall, you’re losing energy during the day. The solution? It’s simple, engage in a few more nurturing activities. Take a walk, do a little exercise, stretch, or do something creative.

There are so many advantages to getting a better picture of how your energy is spent. It can help you to make mindful decisions about how to spend your time, rather than acting out of self-pity or frustration. And, by showing you that enjoyable activities can actually increase your energy, it can give you the mandate to reintroduce things that you may have abandoned due to overwhelming tiredness. That in turn makes us less likely to freak out about what poor sleep is doing to our lives.

We all know that it can be hard to be nice to people when you haven’t slept well. But being kind to yourself is a great place to start.

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This post by sleep scientist Dr. Jason C. Ong is part of our Sleep Health course. You can experience the full 14-day course with a subscription to the Headspace app.

If you’re doing the Headspace Sleep Health course, that’s a pretty good indication that you’re interested in better sleep. However, it’s important that we approach that goal in the right way. Having a very specific outcome in mind when it comes to sleep, can sometimes be counterproductive.

After all, sleep isn’t something that you can just decide to do. It’s a natural process that depends on the body and mind, not just a switch that we can hit, like turning off a light. Often people who regularly experience poor sleep become almost obsessed by a particular idea related to their sleep. They might think “I have to get 8 hours of sleep to function properly,” or worry constantly about how their lack of sleep is affecting their performance at work or at home. These stressful thoughts then become the things that occur to them as they’re trying to drift off. At this point, their anxiety about sleep is actually stopping them from sleeping — and no one wants that.

Getting very attached to a rigid goal for your sleep naturally leads to worrying about sleeplessness. It also creates very inflexible expectations. Both of these things can actually get in the way of the natural process of unwinding at night.

It’s not that the thoughts themselves are wrong. It’s that the obsession with them, or inability to let them go, can get in the way of sleep. So it’s important that we can learn to relax our grip on sleep, and make space for it to occur in its own way.

There’s an idea in Buddhism called the “second dart.” It suggests that the first dart is something our enemy throws at us (in this case, a lack of sleep) and the second dart is the one that we throw at ourselves (in this case, the obsession with our goal to get better sleep). While we might not be able to alleviate the first one right away, by changing our attitude towards outcomes, we can avoid the second dart altogether.

So remember, absolutely nobody sleeps perfectly every night of their lives. To have problems with sleep is perfectly normal, it’s part of being human. Also, the regulation of your sleep across many nights is more important than any single night’s sleep. So relax your grip on sleep. Be a good host, invite it in, but don’t insist.

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This post by sleep scientist Dr. Jason C. Ong is part of our Sleep Health course. You can experience the full 14-day course with a subscription to the Headspace app.

Sleep thrives on a regular routine. Building a great, consistent wind-down routine for the end of your day is the very best way to train your body to know that it’s time for bed. This will increase your chance of sleepiness, and make drifting off so much easier.

As always, consistency is key. If you’re using Sleep by Headspace, you can set up a notification that will give you a gentle nudge, letting you know it’s time to start winding down. Ideally, this should begin sometime before you get into bed and be your signal that it’s time to stop working and let go of the day.

Now comes the fun part: set aside an hour or so for your wind-down activities. These should be things that are enjoyable in their own right, rather than activities you think will make you sleepy. They shouldn’t be too stimulating, of course: activities like reading, knitting, or listening to calming music are just the ticket. It’s best to approach your wind down with an attitude of “non-striving,” the kind we practice in meditation. That means not focusing on the outcome, just experiencing an enjoyment of what you’re doing for its own sake. This will help you to shed the day’s worries, and prepare your mind and body for sleep to naturally take place.

It may be a good idea to reduce screen time during this period — even dimming the lights in your house can help your brain to recognize that it’s getting close to bedtime. Building a sleep routine like this can be a real gift to yourself. It’s the end of the day, after all, so you deserve a little reward.

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This post by sleep scientist Dr. Jason C. Ong is part of our Sleep Health course. You can experience the full 14-day course with a subscription to the Headspace app.

People are often surprised when I tell them this, but if you want to sleep well on a regular basis, the single most important thing you can do is to have a consistent wake-up time.

This is because your circadian rhythm, also known as your body clock, is guided by your wake-up time rather than your bedtime. The circadian rhythm doesn’t respond instantly, it adjusts gradually over several days, and this adjustment is exactly what’s happening when we experience jet lag. We find we’re tired at awkward times, and we can’t sleep when we get into bed. Our circadian rhythm is still on the schedule of our old time zone, so it’s lagging behind by something like an hour or more a day.

An irregular wake-up time, whether that’s on the weekend, or after a bad night’s sleep, confuses your biological clock in just the same way — in fact, sleep doctors sometimes call this “social jet lag.”

Obviously then, the best way to ensure that you’re sleepy at the same time each day is to wake up and get out of bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This is actually the opposite of what most people assume is the best thing for their sleep. They go to bed at the same time each day and vary the wake-up time based on how they slept during the night. Unfortunately, this works against the way the body regulates sleep, and that can lead to frustration when you get into bed.

So ideally, try to maintain a wake-up time within a consistent 15-minute window every day. Even if you’ve slept badly. And even if you’ve been out the night before. And before you know it, you’ll have your body clock working like, well, clockwork again.

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This post by sleep scientist Dr. Jason C. Ong is part of our Sleep Health course. You can experience the full 14-day course with a subscription to the Headspace app.

If you want to improve your sleep health, sleep more, and sleep better, it’s helpful to start with the science behind sleep regulation. Plus, if you know a bit about the theory, then the practice of meditation for sleep becomes a little easier to stick to.

One way to think about the systems in the brain that regulate sleep and waking is a seesaw: on one side, there’s alertness and on the other, sleepiness.

When you have a good night’s sleep, you wake up with a high level of alertness and a low level of sleepiness. As you go about your day, sleepiness builds up — just like hunger builds when you go a long time without food. And just like hunger, the longer you’re awake, the sleepier you will be.  

As sleepiness goes up, alertness comes down. Once sleepiness rises high enough and alertness falls, it becomes really difficult to stay awake. This is when most people go to bed and fall asleep. During the night, the brain “resets” your level of sleepiness while you sleep (much as hunger is satisfied when you eat), so if you get enough sleep, you wake up with a low level of sleepiness each morning and a relatively high level of alertness.

Every day and night, you go through this same up-and-down pattern with the brain, exchanging sleepiness for wakefulness.

Now let’s say you encounter some stressful event, for instance, a deadline at work, a stressful email, or an argument.  

Our body’s stress response is like a weight dropping down on the sleepiness side of the seesaw: it stops it from rising up. Stress triggers our fight-or-flight system, designed to keep us alert or even hyper-vigilant so that we can be ready to take action at any moment. This might have been helpful for survival in an earlier era in human history, but in modern society, it tends to serve as an “override button” to the sleep systems, making it difficult to sleep. By working out ways to reduce stress, we can get our seesaw back in motion. When the stress load is lifted, the sleepiness side of the seesaw can rise once again.

This is why meditation is so good for sleep. Not only will it help you to handle stress more skillfully, but it has also been shown to trigger the “rest and digest” response — that is the opposite of the stress reaction. The awareness that we develop in meditation also comes in really handy for knowing when the body is ready to sleep. And by being mindful, we can make better decisions when it comes to our response to poor sleep.

Learning to meditate might just be one of the best things you can do to keep your seesaw in harmonious motion.

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In this month’s Headspace featured collection, Money on the Mind, we’re highlighting recommended meditations and exercises to help you better cope with financial stress and have a healthier relationship with money.

At one time or another, most of us will have felt stressed about money, whether it’s struggling to make ends meet, feeling burdened by debt, fretting about family expenses, or worrying whether there’ll be enough left in the pot to retire. The stress could also be from making a certain financial decision, worrying about losing hard-earned savings, or simply being money-phobic, due to some conditioned beliefs handed down over generations.

Whatever the reason, the pressure that accompanies financial stress can sometimes feel overwhelming and hard to escape — affecting our relationships, our sleep, and our health. It seems to trickle down into every area of life, making it hard to think, focus, and function.

The easiest thing to do, of course, is project our current situation into the future and imagine it’s never-ending, making us feel even worse. It’s why many of us go into avoidance: avoiding calls from utility companies, avoiding opening bank statements, and avoiding tough conversations.

The hardest thing to do is to look our financial stress in the eye, stay present, and deal with it. We can make this easier on ourselves by looking at our situation through the lens of mindfulness.

Meditation cannot make us wealthy or dissolve our debts, but it can bring an awareness that helps us reframe our approach to finances, and therefore, ease the strain. When we cannot change the reality of a situation, we instead change our perspective; in changing our perspective, we change our relationship with something, and that’s a powerful shift when it comes to money.

Money on the Mind: recommended meditations to help manage financial stress

Check your balance

Checking in with ourselves before checking our bank account balance can put us in the right frame of mind, rather than sending us into a tailspin. Breathe, step back, reassess, and restore some much-needed balance to your life.

  • Prioritization courseWhen there’s a lot on our minds, we often can’t see the forest for the trees. This 10-day meditation course helps cut away everything so that we can get some much-needed clarity on what matters and what needs to be prioritized.
  • Balance courseWhen stressed about money, we’re prone to feeling a little off-kilter. This 10-day course allows us to find our feet again, restores some equilibrium, and teaches us to respond, not react.  
  • Material Desire (obstacle)Spending a little too freely? This audio insight in the “Obstacles” section of the app — found if you scroll down under the “Helpful tips & support” topic in the Headspace library (mobile app only) —  tackles how the mind struggles with material desire, and what we can do about it. 
  • Regret (obstacle)Maybe you’ve gone through your bank statement and seen where your money went last month. Money has a habit of making us question our spending. This insight, also in the “Obstacles” section (mobile app only), helps us understand what regret is, what it does, and why it shouldn’t have a hold over us.

Emotionally overdrawn

Our emotions can get the better of us when we’re financially stressed. There is a lot going on and every day can feel overwhelming or burdensome. The following exercises are designed to ease the strain and help you keep moving forward with calm and clarity.

  • Navigating ChangeBeing comfortable with change is not easy for most people, especially when it comes to money. It’s common to feel at the mercy of a situation that seems to be in control of us, and not vice-versa.  This 10-day course helps restore a greater sense of flow and ease.
  • Stressed singleNothing can change our circumstances, but this single exercise shows us how to notice the storyline we’re holding on to, and teaches us how to find relief by reframing our stress. Pause. Breathe. Reset. Reframe.
  • Frustrated singleWhen we feel a financial squeeze, our anger, irritability, and frustration can quickly rise to the surface. We can’t prevent that from happening, but this exercise helps guide us through a release of such emotions, fostering peace of mind instead.
  • Feeling Overwhelmed SOSWhen life feels too much, you sometimes have to reach for the SOS button … and this single exercise is here to bring relief and perspective when we are feeling particularly overwhelmed.

Treat yourself 

When stressed about money, one of the hardest things to do is look after ourselves, or at least do something that feels positive. But in looking after ourselves, we look after our minds … and that’s a stress-buster in and of itself.

  • Add Some Joy (walk)taking a walk and putting down our stress — even if it’s just for a few minutes, even if it’s a walk around the block — can make a world of difference in how we feel, especially when it’s a guided meditation in our ears.
  • Motivation singleFeeling motivated is sometimes the last thing we feel when we’re stressed, so this exercise is here to remind us about our goals, so that we can feel purposeful again, with a renewed sense of perspective.
  • Creativity courseThis 30-day meditation course will help you discover — or rediscover — your creativity and self-expression. So dive in, get creative, and find your flow.
  • Taking a Break singleNo matter how stressful things get, we should always reconnect with ourselves by reconnecting with the present moment. It helps us feel refreshed, a little lighter, and a little calmer before stepping back into our day.
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When the stakes are high, the emotions usually match. And with emotions swirling, it’s not always easy to sit down and focus — fear of failure, test anxiety, procrastination, or busy schedules can get in the way of dedicated study or prep time.

We’re approaching that time of year again when college students in America prepare for their looming midterms and upcoming finals. But it’s not only exam season that brings do-or-die pressure; it’s studies of any kind, for, say, an essay, an education course, a certification, a project, or a big presentation.

With so much going on, finding and keeping our focus can be challenging in an increasingly busy, tech-connected world. But if we can be calm and clear-headed, it’s easier to find that sweet spot of relaxed focus that’s key to us learning and retaining new information.

This is where training the mind comes in useful. It’s through meditation that we improve our ability to place our attention on one thing for a fixed amount of time, without getting distracted. The more we build our awareness, the more sustainable our focus becomes.

Focus, focus, focus … 

Think of this month’s featured collection as your very own study buddy. It’s full of recommended meditations and exercises to help you knuckle down, find that focus, and nail whatever test or project is looming on the horizon. You got this. We got you.

SITTING DOWN TO FOCUS

Focus is innate; without effort. But we need to be in the right frame of mind, and create the right environment, before dropping into that focus. These exercises are designed to set you up in the best possible way.

  • Focus Mini — a mini-meditation to put you in the right frame of mind to focus
  • Early Mornings — blow away the cobwebs and feel clearer with this single meditation
  • Dealing With Distractions — recognize and let go distractions with this 10-day course
  • Productivity — use this 10-day course to help you maintain focus when it’s needed most

TAKE A BREAK

Sometimes, stepping away and taking a break can alleviate the pressure around trying to focus. Our focus should be effortless, and these exercises (and one animation) are designed to help you help yourself.

  • Sleeping — a single meditation to set up a quality night’s sleep ahead of studying
  • Taking a Break — press pause and take a necessary breather — you’ve earned it!
  • For the Weekend — put down the weight of studying with this day-to-day exercise
  • Letting go of Effort — an animation to demonstrate the benefits of releasing all effort

PRE-EXAM

You’ve done all the studying and prep. Now the big day has arrived. View these exercises almost as a mini pep-talk — something to get your head in the zone, and to calm the nerves, for when it matters.

  • Walking in the City — take a walk and be present with this on-the-go exercise
  • Exam Prep – find that sweet spot of relaxed focus before the exam starts
  • Breathe — keep breathing and stay calm with this mini-meditation
  • Focus — harness that focus to ensure that clarity walks with you into the room

POST-EXAM

It’s not always easy to unwind after a big exam/test so these exercises are designed to ensure you draw a line under your day and discover a deserved place of rest.

  • Restore — exhale, reset, and restore with this mini-meditation
  • Taking a Break — press pause and take a necessary breather — you’ve definitely earned it!
  • End of Day — you’ve done all you can, so use this exercise to release the burden and let go
  • Walking in Nature — nothing like nature (and a guided meditation) to bring perspective

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

Learning a new skill or taking on a new professional role can be daunting, so these exercises are tailored to help you get your head around what’s required while keeping your feet on the ground.  

  • Creativity — recognize and nurture your creativity with this inspiring 30-day course   
  • Balance — a balanced mind is a less reactive mind, as this 10-day course will show you
  • Navigating Change — peace of mind is still possible when everything is changing
  • Learning a Skill — an animation to help you adapt in learning a new skill
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No matter how we feel about the run streak — the figure in the Headspace app that acknowledges how many days in a row we’ve meditated — that number has something important to teach us.

Some people love this feature, viewing it as a source of motivation, a record of accountability, and a badge of honor that reflects their commitment in building a meditation practice. Others can’t stand it, viewing it as a source of anxiety, a reminder of days missed, and an unspoken judgment of their dedication, passion, or priorities.

Given that both opinions exist, we can’t say the run streak is objectively good or bad. Rather, our approach to it, and our relationship with it, is what ultimately defines our experience.

Most people assume we created the run streak as a way of gamifying meditation. But its origins have less to do with Silicon Valley and more to do with the Tibetan Himalayas.

The romantic version of meditative training is often portrayed as one in which time is forgotten, routines are abandoned, and goals are immediately relinquished. Having trained as a monk, I can tell you firsthand that this is anything but the case.

The reality of that lifestyle is a commitment for a certain number of years, and a daily routine set by the clock. We even had a fixed amount of time to complete meditation exercises — a number to which we had to commit. Within this context, we used the concept of run streaks all the time, but it was never about the number; it was a tool to help us deliver on our intention and direction, ensuring we wasted no time and worked towards a singular point, in a clear and steady way.

The Headspace run streak is, in many ways, an extension of that same discipline, and this type of structure can be incredibly helpful, creating a framework for momentum.

Of course, there’s some paradox, and considerable humor, in having to create a fixed structure to enable the mind to be free; likewise with setting goals when the intention is to live in the present, free from expectation. But as human beings, conditioned as we are, these things can be helpful.

And so we come back to the run streak. If we think it is about the number itself, then we are missing the point. I’ve heard of people crying when they unintentionally miss a day and the run streak is interrupted. I’ve also heard of others being furious, even when they intentionally skip a day, and realize they are at zero when they next log on.

If we experience this level of attachment to the run streak, then it might just be time to reframe our approach to it altogether. It may well be that we’ve unwittingly become competitive in our meditation, whether with oneself or others. Or it might be that we’re using it as a way to judge oneself or others. Either way, we are at risk of causing ourselves unnecessary stress.

This reminds me of a message sent in by a Headspace member a little while ago. In many ways, it captures the essence of the run streak perfectly. He said he was approaching 1,500 days in a row but was worried he was becoming fixated on the number. So he purposely missed a day, resetting his run streak to zero, and then continued on his way the next day.

Whilst I’m in no way recommending you drop your run streak like this, there is something interesting in being so free from the number that we are prepared to surrender it at any time. There is something interesting in understanding that we lose none of the benefits of meditation when we lose the run streak. And there is something interesting about being so at ease with it, that we are able to continue our journey in a deliberate and intentional way, even if we miss a day.

The point is to sit when we can, clear in our intention and direction. Just like in the monastery, the run streak is a form of encouragement rather than judgment. The benefit of meditation does not come from a number on the screen, neither does that number on the screen have the capacity to judge us in any way.

As long as we are doing our best, that’s all we need to know. We all miss days, and that’s okay. In fact, some people don’t even want to meditate on a daily basis, and that’s okay, too. The important thing is to realize when we have missed a planned session and then continue with the next, a little like noticing when the mind has wandered off before returning to the breath.

Simply put: if you find the run streak helpful and motivating, embrace it. If you find it off-putting and scary, don’t pay it any attention. Most important of all, whichever way you lean, notice the way you relate to it, recognizing that our experience is ultimately defined by our perspective.

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