September 25, 2012

Saying Goodbye to Our Meditation Doctor

The Best of Andy Puddicombe

Andy PuddicombeAndy Puddicombe is a registered clinical mindfulness consultant and a former Buddhist monk. He is the author of Get Some Headspace and the founder of Headspace, a project that aims to make meditation accessible and easy-to-learn. Over the past 24 weeks, Andy has primed us for a life of mindfulness and kindly fielded all our meditation questions as Tricycle's resident meditation doctor. This week marks the last of Andy's "Introduction to Mindfulness," and your last chance to ask him all your burning meditation questions. As a farewell, we've collated some of his most popular posts from weeks past below.

You can read Andy's latest post about dealing with our neuroses and ask him your questions here.

Opinions, Opinions

Is it a good thing or a bad thing to have strong opinions? There was once a time when being "opinionated" was considered a rather negative quality, but it seems as though it’s increasingly fashionable to have an opinion. In fact, to be seen to have no opinion, is now seen as nothing short of uneducated in some circles. But is this always such a good thing? Does a strong opinion reflect a mind that is open, curious, andWeek 19 interested, a mind that understands change, the fleeting passage of thought and the vagaries of emotion? Or does it reflect a mind that is closed, fixed, final—a mind that believes in a permanent position and identifies completely and wholeheartedly with every single thought or feeling?

As much as that may sound like an answer, just another opinion, it really is more of a question, something to reflect upon. There’s no doubt that we need opinions to live a healthy life, and at the same time they help us to make sense of the world, to feel safe and secure, certain and sure. They take the edge off the inherent vulnerability of life. But is it possible to have an opinion whilst open to the possibility of another outcome, an opinion that has the potential to move, to shift, to change?

One of my teachers once said to me “The secret to meditation is to always remember that anything you think is right could be wrong, and anything you think is wrong could be right. Never assume anything and always be prepared to give up everything you have ever believed in. Nothing is ever certain, so keep an open mind.” Unsurprisingly, I found these words just as applicable to everyday life as I did to meditation. Because having an opinion is really no big deal. In fact, opinions only become a problem when we are so firmly attached to the idea that we can no longer see things clearly and objectively, when we can no longer see things through the eyes of others. So maybe it’s not opinions that are the problem; maybe it’s just the way we relate to them sometimes.

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