A Man’s Guide To Finding Headspace
A Man’s Guide To Finding Headspace

A Man’s Guide To Finding Headspace


Forget a physical work out – when was the last time you exercised your mind? Whether you call it meditation, mindfulness or self-care, the benefits of looking after your mental health are endless – it’ll help you better cope with stress, handle daunting projects and be more patient with yourself and others. To help you get started, we went to three industry experts for their insights…

Kamran Bedi, mental health practitioner & author of The Anxiety Antidote, says…

It’ll bring you back into balance. From a scientific standpoint, stress and anxiety begins in the mind. There are two sides to your nervous system – the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system. When it senses a threat, the sympathetic side distributes energy, shifting you into a ‘flight or fight’ response. Meanwhile, the parasympathetic system helps your body to calm and centre. If you experience excessive stress, worry and negative thinking, this can cause an imbalance of your nervous system, leaving you feeling on edge for no reason. Mindfulness actively encourages the nervous system to relax, taking it out of freeze mode.

Mindfulness doesn’t need to be spiritual. This is one of the biggest misconceptions. Mindfulness allows you to understand how to use your mind and how to have more influence over your thoughts and therefore feelings. Lots of men who work with coaches get guidance to improve their mindset – athletes often use coaching and mindfulness to increase their focus and improve performance. So, while some men think it’s light and fluffy and spiritual (it generally isn’t), for other men it’s a tool that helps them thrive in various areas of their life.

“Mindfulness actively encourages the nervous system to relax, taking it out of freeze mode.”

You can feel more present in 60 seconds. Start by looking at one single object in the room you are in, focusing firstly on what you can see. Look at the colours, shapes and textures. See as much as you can and focus on that external object with your eyes for 20 seconds. Now, listen to the sounds around you as you continue to view the object. Hear the sounds in your environment and even beyond your environment – do this for 20 seconds. As you continue to see and hear, now sense the feeling of the temperature on your skin. Without touching or looking, feel the fabric of your clothing against your skin, and feel the seat beneath you – do this for 20 seconds. Then, take your eyes to a different object and repeat the process for a minimum of five times. This technique allows you to be where you are mentally, not just physically. 

Find what works for you. Enlisting the support of a professional is a great way to get started and make tangible changes. Take the time to find a practice that you can utilise daily – it could be an audio programme via an app like Headspace or Calm, a book, an online course or working with a coach. I often see guys giving up on mindfulness because they didn’t find the right method for them. Keep going until you find the right thing. 

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Eve Lewis Prieto, director of meditation at Headspace, says…

Mindfulness makes it possible to do the big things. It’s like training a muscle – if you go to the gym and lift weights on a regular basis, you’ll see your muscles grow. In this case, the muscle you are training is your attention. By training the mind to be more present, aware and open, you will be able to experience greater calm, clarity and contentment, which means you can navigate the challenging moments in life in a kinder and gentler way. Being more connected will also enable you to thrive at work and in your personal relationships.

It requires patience. When I first started meditating, I thought the meditation was making my mind busier. In fact, what was happening was that I was just a lot more aware of the activity in my mind – this can take getting used to. However, the more you meditate, the more you start to let go of your thoughts, which means the mind calms. It’s also worth noting you’ll likely feel different each time you meditate as the mind and body are constantly changing. Being mindful takes work, patience and determination – start small to give yourself a better chance of making it a habit.

Trust the process. As humans, we’re pretty good at burying our heads in the sand or ignoring our issues, but practising meditation and mindfulness helps us see we can face what life throws at us, and that we can do so with greater awareness and compassion for ourselves and those around us. Be patient with yourself – you won’t see results overnight, and it can sometimes be hard facing your challenges and dealing with tricky emotions. Being mindful isn’t always easy, but it may just change your life. 

“If your mind doesn’t settle, don’t fight it. Remember that meditation is about awareness of your thoughts.”

Micro moments count. Every single moment in the day is another opportunity to be present and aware. As soon as you wake up in the morning, rather than jumping out of bed, pause long enough for three whole breaths to pass naturally. This will only take a few seconds, but it will set the tone for the day ahead. When you brush your teeth, make it an exercise in mindfulness. Rather than letting your brain wander, direct your attention to the physical sensations, smells and tastes. Or try making the beginning and end of every journey a mindful moment. When you first get on the bus or train, sit and be present for three breaths. Then repeat again before you stand to get off – this natural beginning and end helps to jog the memory. If you go through the day bookending each and every activity, you start, over time, to become more present.

There’s science behind it. There’s a reason athletes and CEOs make time to meditate – it’s proven to boost brain power and productivity. Meditation supercharges production of alpha brain waves, reducing anxiety and increasing performance. After ten days of using Headspace, studies show your stress levels can reduce by up to 14%. After three weeks, you’ll be 23% more compassionate, 57% less aggressive and 14% more focused. 

Sticking with it is important. Most people come to meditation because of stress and anxiety, and once they feel calmer and more centred, meditation tends to take a back seat. Meditation is a practice, and like any skill, if you stop doing it, you will lose your skill. 

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“By training the mind to be more present, aware and open, you will be able to experience greater calm, clarity and contentment.”

Damian Castello, psychotherapist at Self Space, says…

It’s okay to be in touch with your own thoughts. So often, we think this should only be done when we are in pain or happy, but it shouldn’t be limited to extremes. Don’t be afraid to get curious about your emotions and don’t worry about how other guys will perceive you – remind yourself you’re doing this for you. How often do you take time out of the constant busy-ness of life to stop and ask yourself how you’re doing? Ask yourself this more often. If you don’t know where to start, start by writing a journal. Physically writing things down is a fantastic way to be mindful as it gives you the opportunity to focus on what’s going on with your emotions, thoughts and feelings.

Meditation is for everyone and anyone, including sceptics. It can help to choose a time to meditate and stick to it, as structure and consistency will help build the habit. There’s nothing like a date and time in the diary to focus the mind. Go into a meditation practice without expectations. This is very important, especially for males as we tend to look for solutions to problems or want to fix things as quickly as possible. When you meditate, try as hard as possible to allow your mind to calm, being aware of thoughts that come and go. If your mind doesn’t settle, don’t fight it. If you have an unpleasant thought, just noticing that it’s an unpleasant thought is enough. Remember that meditation is about awareness of your thoughts. 

No matter how much you meditate, difficult stuff still happens. There’s an assumption that meditation eliminates stress and unpleasant feelings from our lives. Life is a rollercoaster of emotions, but meditation changes how we relate to these emotions and situations and how long we hold onto it afterwards.

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