9 questions to meditate on

Ben Mann
2 min readApr 18, 2017

I recently finished Headspace’s motivation pack, which explores how and why you do what you do, and what effect that might have on you and others. You can choose any activity or pursuit as the subject: sports, hobbies, career, family, etc. I chose work partly because I spend the most time on it, and partly because I sometimes lose focus at work. I wanted to understand why I do that. In each session you ask a single question exploring the subject you chose. The questions helped me think differently about work, and I want to share that sense of exploration with you!

Each session has the following structure:

  1. Eyes open, deep breaths
  2. Close eyes, check in with your environment (contact, sounds, smells)
  3. Scan body
  4. Focus on breath
  5. Ask yourself the question*
  6. Back to breath
  7. Ask yourself the question again, but as if for the first time
  8. Back to breath
  9. Let go, think about whatever
  10. Check in with your environment, open eyes

* When you ask yourself the question, ask it in second person, ie., use “you” instead of “I”. This is to avoid triggering an automatic narrative response. Instead, let your subconscious steep in potential answers. Don’t get hung up on any one possibility. Allow thoughts and images which may be relevant to the question to come and go.

Here are the questions, one per session:

  1. Who or what is most important in your life right now?
  2. How does it make you feel when you’re doing [your work]?
  3. What is your dream goal?
  4. Is your happiness dependent on your goal?
  5. What’s preventing you from achieving your goal?
  6. How do you approach your life?
  7. Are you defined by what you do?
  8. What can you give to [your work]?
  9. How does it feel to see others share in your happiness?

I particularly enjoyed the last two. I felt an immediate sense of joy asking them. They helped me focus my attention more on others than myself, which was a refreshing change from the norm.

When I asked what’s preventing me from achieving my goal, I felt stress and resistance. Was I failing? Why was it hard? But I liked surfacing these negative emotions so I could confront them, rather than letting them stew in my subconscious.

Overall, I gained a better understanding of what I’m doing and why, which realigned my priorities. It’s less important than I thought to achieve specific outcomes than it is to make sure everyone feels productive and supported. I plan to try this pack again in a few months and see what changes.

What do you think of these questions? Are there other questions you like to ask in the same vein?



Ben Mann

Software engineer, tinkerer, aspiring mad scientist