Authors: Andy Puddicombe
Andy Puddicombe is a meditation and mindfulness expert. An accomplished presenter and writer, Andy is the voice of all things Headspace.
In his early twenties, midway through a university degree in Sports Science, Andy made the unexpected decision to travel to the Himalayas to study meditation instead. It was the beginning of a ten year journey which took him around the world, culminating with ordination as a Tibetan Buddhist monk in Northern India.
His transition back to lay life in 2004 was no less extraordinary. Training briefly at Moscow State Circus, he returned to London where he completed a degree in Circus Arts with the Conservatoire of Dance and Drama, whilst drawing up the early plans for what was later to become Headspace.
He has been featured widely in international press, appearing in Vogue, NYT, FT, Entrepreneur, Men’s Health and Esquire, to name but a few. He also makes regular appearances on TV and online, having been featured on BBC, Dr Oz, Netflix and TED.
Andy currently lives in Venice, California, with his wife Lucinda and son Harley.
The author of this book does not dispense medical advice or
prescribe the use of any technique as a form of treatment for
physical or medical problems without the advice of a physician,
either directly or indirectly. In the event you use any of the
information in this book for yourself, the author and the publisher
assume no responsibility for your actions.
First published in Great Britain in 2015
By Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © Andy Puddicombe 2015
The right of Andy Puddicombe to be identified as the Author of the
Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright,
Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced,
stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any
means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be
otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that
in which it is published and without a similar condition being
imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
ISBN 978 1 444 72225 3
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
TO OUR SON, HARLEY …
AND TO HIS MOTHER, MY WIFE, LUCINDA … FOR BRINGING HIM INTO THIS WORLD.
Headspace started back in 2010, with the simple aim of improving the health and happiness of the world. By demystifying meditation and offering practical and authentic mindfulness techniques, we’ve been able to help people find a little more peace of mind. At the time of writing, there are somewhere around 3 million people getting some daily headspace. We are also in partnership with a number of scientific research studies, working with some of the most respected universities and hospitals in the world, to help further the understanding of meditation and mindfulness, as well as researching the effects on everything from anxiety to depression, chronic pain to insomnia and empathy to compassion fatigue.
My own personal story is that at the age of twenty-two, I decided my mind was simply too full, so I quit my sports science degree and set off to the Himalayas to become a Buddhist monk. The next ten years took me around the world on a remarkable and fortuitous journey, giving me the opportunity to study with some of the greatest meditation masters, obtaining insight and knowledge passed down over thousands of years. I may not be a monk any more, but I’ve been teaching meditation ever since. My personal passion mirrors the broader mission of Headspace: to get as many people to meditate, as often as possible.
Sharing in these benefits is easy. Obviously, I will teach you all you need to know through the exercises at the back of this book, but for a more immersive experience, you may also like to check out our Take 10 programme, free of charge, by downloading our mobile app or exploring our website at
. The starter kit of guided meditations – audio downloads which give you the freedom to meditate wherever you are – serves as a companion to
A Mindful Pregnancy
; as you become more proficient, and if you wish, there are meditations you can sign up for that cover every area of life.
I am most thankful that, finally, there is a book – the only guide you’ll need for your journey – that addresses what all the other books do not: the importance of taking care of your mind, before, during and after pregnancy. As an obstetrician, I have used this approach and helped steer my patients through many storybook births.
Dr Shamsah Amersi
physician in obstetrics and gynaecology.
‘So, you’re a man,’ said the woman seated beside me, ‘writing a book … about pregnancy?’
My wife, Lucinda, had warned me this could happen.
‘That’s right,’ I said, trying to ignore this lady’s frown of incredulity.
‘I’m sorry,’ she persisted, ‘but I just don’t see how any man can possibly relate to, let alone write about, what it’s like to go through pregnancy and childbirth.’
So, somewhere high above America on a transatlantic flight, I took my life in my hands and started to explain to this mother of two why I felt motivated to write such a book – and how it was not simply because I’d recently become a father for the first time. No, if that was the sole reason, the woman to my right would have been entirely justified in her stance. In fact, her point still remains valid, at least in part: a man cannot begin to understand what is a uniquely female experience, and nor do I pretend to. No man will ever know the miracle of life growing inside the womb; or fathom the pain (and let’s be frank here) of pushing something the size of a melon out of something, well, considerably smaller; comprehend the self-sacrifice of becoming a breastfeeding machine at one, three, five and seven o’clock in the morning and beyond; or grasp the unrelenting hormonal roller coaster of motherhood.
And as if all this wasn’t enough to stop me embarking on this project, there’s also the small matter of me having spent a good bit of time living as a monk in a Buddhist monastery – hardly the best place to learn about pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood, let alone conception! But here’s what I asked my fellow passenger to take a minute to consider:
This book is not about the womb, it is about the mind.
It’s about the human condition.
My field of expertise is meditation and mindfulness, not obstetrics. My passion is understanding how we can learn to step out of the endless inner chatter that so dominates our life, often leaving us feeling overwhelmed or out of control. What better time to discover a place of calm and contentment than during pregnancy? What greater gift to give your future child than peace of mind – both yours and theirs?
It’s like I explained to my captive audience of one on the flight: this book is going to teach people how to keep their heads and stay sane while travelling one of life’s most remarkable (yet tremendously challenging) journeys.
Because, let’s face it, pregnancy can be a hugely stressful and scary time, regardless of the obvious excitement. So if I can help you better understand the way your mind works – with its thoughts, emotions, self-narrative and habitual patterns – then you will have the opportunity to release the weight of insecurity, anxiety, doubt, nerves, fear and irritability; not to mention the fact that you can use mindfulness to manage pelvic and back pain during the trimesters, or the pain of childbirth itself. Yes, science is, as you’ll discover in a later chapter, finally understanding the pain-relieving effects of mindfulness.
This book can be viewed as your pressure-release valve – the go-to place when the stresses and strains become intolerable, or that inner chatter grows too loud. Even if you are already into the first months of parenting, or struggling with the transition from one child to two, meditation-based mindfulness is a tool for staying grounded, connected to yourself and those around you in a healthy and harmonious way. And the beauty of learning mindfulness now is that you will have it with you for the rest of your life.
Some of you will be reading this at the beginning of your pregnancy – the most favourable point to begin. But, as we all know, and as I will constantly remind you, optimum or ‘ideal’ circumstances are not always possible; we shouldn’t wish to be anywhere other than where we are: right here, right now. In that sense, whatever trimester you’re in, or even if you already have a babe in arms, your timing is perfect.
The beauty of meditation and mindfulness is that it’s never too late to begin. There’s no start or finish point. Sure, it can offer tremendous assistance through pregnancy, but what I’m also encouraging you to do is go beyond pregnancy into the baby’s life, into your relationship with him or her. After all, as any parent will confirm, the challenges will be never-ending as they grow up! Your thinking mind will be forever with you, needing to be tamed. So please view this as the beginning of a mindful journey that will bring benefits for the rest of your years rather than something just to help you through pregnancy.
If you’ve not come across the word ‘mindfulness’ before, it simply means to be present in the here and now, fully engaged with whatever is happening, free from distraction, with a soft, open and enquiring mind. It means not being tied down by the burden of the past, not held hostage by fear of the future, but simply present, watching life unfold with a sense of ease and perspective.
Writing about a universal experience is difficult, because no two pregnancies are ever the same; everyone’s circumstances and experience are going to be different. Fortunately though, mindfulness prepares you for every eventuality, helping you to see that it is less about the situation and more about how you relate to it. So whether you are struggling to conceive, midway through the second trimester, about to give birth or have just arrived home with your newborn child, mindfulness will help, perhaps in ways you never imagined.