“I feel like I was just floating in space that night”

“I feel like I was just floating in space that night”

— Share video review:

Headspace: Guide to Meditation, a science communication video series on Netflix

Author: Lori

Translator: Joey、Amy吴雯堃

Two days ago, a friend of mine suddenly told me, “I found myself increasingly agreeing with the statement of ‘human beings are machines.’ It seems that my body is inseparable from my spirit, which even seemed rusted due to prolonged underuse.”

It seems that I am emphasizing her feelings. People complain about the status quo yet try their best to “lying flat”(which is trending in China referring to rejecting the rat race). It seems like becoming a “couch potato” symbolized a sense of free will under such a difficult period. However, a lot of them have to continue to move forward after taking a short breath from the hustle.

A lot of people want to escape from the burden of life; however, life never seems to show its mercy. It brings us unexpected tasks and troubles, which makes an individual reluctant to admit that one is lacking a sense of agency.

There are so many distractions that we don’t even remember the last self-care moment. We live with our exhausted bodies with emptiness despite the long way we have been through.

I believe that what we need is a way to reconnect our spirit and body, heal ourself and restore inner peace – a field where meditation could help.

I. Headspace: Guide to Meditation

Headspace: Guide to Meditation is a science communication video series, co-produced by Netflix and Andy Puddicombe in 2021. Over the course of eight animated episodes, each with around 20-minute in length, the producers unfold the meditation at different aspects, including enjoying life, coping with stress, being kind to others and unleashing your potential. The videos tell stories in an attractive way that goes beyond voice-over with facts. Specifically, Andy Pyddicombe used first-person narrative for storytelling, which included what meditation is, his experiences and feelings, as well as relevant skills. By learning and applying the knowledge of meditation to different aspects of our lives, it’s believed that we could better in stress releasing, distraction reduction, and reconnection with our loved ones.


You could also consider the series as an introduction to practice meditation other than the discernment of scientific knowledge. It’s a unique opportunity for the viewer to gain insight into the meditation process with Andy’s softening tone and adorable animation.


People who have been exposed to meditation might have known Andy Puddicombe as well. He is a former Buddhist monk and co-founder of the globally beloved Headspace meditation app. He started practicing meditation at 11 years old and kept reflecting on the meditation’s impact on his well-being. Later, he has openly shared those insights via his books and mobile applications.

II. What is Meditation?

It’s essential to distinguish the words “meditation” and “mindfulness.” We are going to take a closer look at the meaning and functions underlying those terms.


The term “meditation” is originated in India. Apart from its root in religion, people have identified the association between meditation and science. According to the psychological definition, meditation is a way of mind-changing to achieve in-depth peacefulness, raise self-awareness and improve our mental well-being.


According to Headspace: Guidance to Meditation, “Meditation is essentially a skill, a way of training our mind so that we can have a calmer, clearer mind and a greater sense of ease in our mind, our body and in our life.”


“When we focus on an object like the breath, it’s not that we are trying to escape thoughts or shut out the world around us. We are learning to recognize when we’ve got caught up in the thinking or in any type of distraction and to gently step out of it, to let it go.”


Unlike meditation, “mindfulness” is the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention to the present moment without evaluation. That being said, the individual is expected to just simply keep an eye on the current situation without judging or analyzing it.


The best way in understanding the dynamics is that mindfulness is a state acquired by practicing a skill called meditation.

Mindfulness is also used as a tool of systemic psychotherapy in the field of psychology. Some of the well-developed, mindfulness-based therapies include:

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction - coping with stress, pain and illness

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy - addressing the relapse of chronic depression

Dialectical Behavior Therapy - assisting with the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder

III. Science Behind the Meditation

Next, let's take a look at the relationship between meditation and science, in other words, the relationship between meditation and our body.


Through numerous scientific experiments, researchers have found meditation has an effect on the brain structure, stress levels and the heart.

Our brain structure has the ability to change and adapt as a result of the experience in later life, which might, to some extent, challenge what we have always known before. In fact, the brain is more flexible than we expect due to its "plasticity" - the ability of the brain to change its structure as a result of experience.


We exercise to strengthen our muscles in the gym. Brain-strengthening has a similar mechanism. Meditation can increase the blood flow in certain areas of our brain. When more blood flows in specific areas, our brain structure could become more connected and thicker. It then provides feedback to our bodies to bring us more happiness and peacefulness. Additionally, such a process could reduce our stress, frustration, depression and pain, while helping us to improve our patience, be more open-minded and empathic. Therefore, it’s such a mechanism that medication benefits us by thickening certain brain areas.


Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, has commented on the meditation after trying it out. He said: "I now see that meditation is simply an exercise for the mind, similar to the way we exercise our muscles when we play sports."


It seems like you're just sitting there with your eyes closed, but meditation and mindfulness could just happen naturally, to make changes happen.

IV. What can Meditation Bring to Us?

We have already mentioned the function and effect of meditation. This section will focus on the process of 'addition' and 'subtraction' perceived by individuals during the meditation.


The subtractive process is that meditation helps us focus on the "let go" aspect.


In Headspace: Guide to Meditation, Andy saw our complex and active thoughts as a little jumping monkey. This little monkey seems too energetic to stop,  making us feel exhausted. Therefore, we need to find a way of "letting go of the little monkey."


The key issue is that we can’t be sure to calm this little monkey even in peaceful surroundings. Hence, what is truly in need of us is to create a relaxing inner world. 


One of Andy's teachers in the monastery provided him with guidance and further elaborated on this aspect, explaining the perspective we should take and describing the process we might experience during the meditation: 


Imagine the blue sky. The blue sky is your mind. Now, this blue sky always exists. Sure, there are days when the sky is very cloudy, and clouds being our thoughts, we may not necessarily see the blue sky. In fact, we may go through long periods in our life when there are so many clouds in the sky that we forget what the blue sky even looks like. But that doesn’t mean that the blue sky has gone anywhere. And once we start thinking of the mind in that way, we’re actually simply creating the conditions to allow the clouds of thoughts to disperse so that we can experience more of the blue sky” --Retrieved from Headspace: Guide to Meditation


The "addition" aspect of meditation is that we can feel more love for life, regain passion, learn skillful ways to better cope with pain and stress, and on this basis, help ourselves explore our unlimited potentials.

Meditation allows us to focus and cherish the present moment. It allows us to focus attention on ourselves and with whom we are sharing time. We can consciously practise self-reflection and learn to be grateful in our daily life even if we don't have any religious beliefs. Meditation could remind us to appreciate the meanings in life that we easily overlook, change our perspectives and help us develop more positive emotions. As Andy describes his life in the temple:

The key issue is that we can’t be sure to calm this little monkey even in peaceful surroundings. Hence, what is truly in need of us is to create a relaxing inner world.


"After waking up in the morning, take a moment to sit still in bed and be grateful for waking up; before each meal, think about where the food in front of you came from and be grateful for it. When you spend time with others, don't think about what's going on in your life, instead, focus on the moments with that person and cherish the time with that person."

V. Some Tips for Meditation


When the word “meditation” comes to mind, we might think of a person sitting cross-legged. However, you can actually choose any postures to do the meditation. Lying, sitting or even standing, choose whatever you want, as long as it makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. 


Focus on the Breath

Sometimes it is not that easy for you to be in the “state”. When you feel your thoughts are wandering, just gently shift your attention back to your breath.


Post-Meditation Moment

After finishing the meditation, take a moment to reflect on the feelings of your body and mind during the process. This process could help us remember it is essential to take a pause and spend some time adjusting ourselves.  


When you feel overwhelmed or if you are flooded with negative thoughts, meditation can help you find a pathway in life. If you are in a restful, relaxed state, meditation helps you to focus better and longer on yourself. In general, it is suitable for everyone.


After finishing the reading of the current article, if you have time and are interested in meditation, try following along with Headspace: Guide to Meditation on Netflix and start meditation today!