MANOUSH ZOMORODI, HOST:
Andy, it's Manoush here. How are you?
ANDY PUDDICOMBE: Hey, Manoush, how are you?
ZOMORODI: Good. There may be a few people who don't know who you are, so would you mind introducing yourself?
PUDDICOMBE: Sure. My name is Andy Puddicombe.
ZOMORODI: And you are an expert in mindfulness. You gave a TED Talk on meditation. And you've actually been on the show before telling your life story. Since we're talking about breath in this episode, we really thought you'd be the perfect person to have on to sort of explain how breath relates to meditation and mindfulness.
PUDDICOMBE: Yeah. I mean, at the most basic level, I think waking up in the morning and realizing that I still am breathing, it may sound sort of flippant, but I remember in the monastery, even training, my teachers always used to say the kind of first thing you do in the morning, just take a moment as you wake up, as you open your eyes, just to even realize, just to appreciate that the breath is still there, that you have woken up. It could so easily have been very different. So obviously, it plays a vital role in our life...
PUDDICOMBE: ...Not only in keeping us alive, but also in meditation as well, where we're able to use a breath as an object to focus, to sort of extricate ourselves from the business of our thinking mind and actually be more present, more grounded in everyday life.
ZOMORODI: And why breath? Is it because it's sort of like a metronome in our bodies, or is it because there's something inherently calming about it?
PUDDICOMBE: The breath is almost a conduit between body and mind. So when we focus on the breath, not only do we help sort of unwind the busyness of the mind, but we also allow tension to be released from the body. So is a particularly effective object of focus, I think.
ZOMORODI: You have very kindly brought us several, I guess, reflections, a little bit of meditation, a little bit of breathing that we're going to do throughout the episode today. So let's get started. What do you have for us to begin with?
PUDDICOMBE: So I thought we'd start with appreciation, actually appreciation of the breath. I think so much of our our life is caught up in distraction, you know, lost in sort of times gone by or maybe even a future that's yet to happen. And because of this, I think we miss out on a lot of things in life. And maybe unintentionally, we even take these things, places, even people for granted. But when we focus very gently on the breath, we find ourselves more present, more aware of everything and everyone, full of appreciation, and as I say, perhaps even grateful for the breath itself. So I thought right now we could start by just taking a moment, whatever you're doing, just pausing, putting everything down. You don't have to breathe in any special way. In fact, you can just place your hand on your stomach, if you like. And just be present with that rising and falling sensation, just for one, two, three times - and just knowing this is a place you can come back to at any time throughout the day.
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ZOMORODI: And actually, you will be guiding us back to this place later in the show, right?
PUDDICOMBE: I will, indeed.
PUDDICOMBE: I will, indeed.
ZOMORODI: Great. Andy Puddicombe is the co-founder of the meditation app Headspace. Later in the show, more ideas from him and other TED speakers on breath. I'm Manoush Zomorodi, and you're listening to the TED Radio Hour from NPR. Stay with us.
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