Shaper: Andy Puddicombe

Show aired on 9th August 2014


Transcript of the show

Mindfulness is being in the moment.  So much time is spent in the past and the future and very little time is spent in the present.

I came out of the monastery as a Buddhist monk nine years ago. People were sceptical about mindfulness, now the Bank of England is training their people in it.

My grandma was doing yoga back in the fifties, my mum trained as a hypnotherapist and was doing stress counselling, we started learning meditation around the age of 11.

In my teens I was involved in an accident where a couple of people died. My stepsister was killed soon after that. These things left a lot of questions in my mind – what’s it all about?

It wasn’t like I sat down and went through the pros and cons of being a Buddhist monk, it just felt like the right thing to do. It was clear in my mind.

From a work point of view, mindfulness means being more focused and productive, with reduced stress and absenteeism. It has a direct benefit for businesses.

It’s so divisive to put labels on ourselves. If we can live a life which is kind and thoughtful then we would probably get on a lot better.

The vision for Headspace is to improve the health and happiness of the world.

I still meditate every day and that makes an enormous difference. I try and get up every morning at five am so I can do my meditation, and then go to the beach and surf.

The biggest challenge we face is that we believe life should run smoothly. Because we want it to be that way, there is tension in our mind when it is not. If we can think, life doesn’t always go as we would like it to, but we can accept that, all of a sudden everything is okay. Even when it’s not.

Andy Puddicombe

Andy Puddicombe, a former monk with a degree in Circus Arts, is the co-founder of Headspace, an award-winning digital health platform providing guided meditation sessions and mindfulness training to the masses.

TED talker, BBC contributor and Huffington Post writer, Andy is on a mission to get as many people as possible to integrate a 10-minute meditation exercise into their lives, bringing them, through Headspace, a “gym membership for the mind.”

In his early twenties, midway through a Sports Science degree and a very typical student life, Andy made the radical decision to give it all up and set off to Asia to become a Buddhist monk. For more than ten years, his meditation training took him all over the world, to Nepal, India, Burma, Thailand, Australia and Russia. He became a fully ordained monk at a Tibetan Monastery in the Indian Himalayas.

In 2004, Andy returned to the UK with one simple aim in mind: to demystify meditation, to make it accessible, relevant and beneficial for as many people as possible. Following years of further training, registration and planning, Headspace officially launched in spring of 2010. With hundreds of hours of content, it is acknowledged as one of the most comprehensive secular programmes for meditation and mindfulness.

As well as writing and presenting, Andy and his team have partnered with companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Westin Hotels Worldwide, Selfridges and The Huffington Post. They have consulted for Innocent Drinks, Reuters, KPMG and Credit Suisse, teaching people how to be less stressed and more focused in an increasingly challenging work environment, and count Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma Watson, Olympic Gold Medallist Etienne Stott and Twitter founder Evan Williams among their fans.

Based in Venice, California, Andy’s daily meditations are listened to by over 1 million active Headspace users who have subscribed to the app.

Follow Andy Puddicombe on Twitter @andy_headspace