Headspace: The Gym Membership For Your Mind
Posted by AnneMarie Della Morte - November 21, 2016
Headspace - Meditation for the Moment
Another meditation app? Fortunately for you (and for me, a self-appointed guinea pig,) the answer is absolutely.
After discovering “ The Headspace App” I did two things: I tried it out, and after I tried it I read about the man who is all about “getting more headspace.”
Andy Puddicombe, co-owner and inventor of Headspace, created the popular app in 2014. Puddicombe , the self described “bald man in a skirt”, began his mindfulness practice at a young age. He seems to be a bit of an bohemian. After all, becoming a Tibetan Buddhist Monk neither happens overnight, nor does it come without a vow of celibacy. 2 After ten years of monastic training and traveling through the Himalayas, Puddicombe returned to London and joined Circus School, Conservatoire of Dance and Drama 3 (Yup, definitely a bohemian.) He made the transition back to his home country as he was looking to re-acquaint himself with the world to which he had intentionally closed his eyes 4.
Headspace is a widely acclaimed app implemented across the world, with celebrity backing and over 80,000 users alike. Specific meditations differentiate Headspace from what might be offered with a generic podcast. Whether you’re gearing up for a competition, trying not to panic pre-flight, or maintaining a cool head while cooking, Headspace has a meditation for that.
Headspace App: “Look and Feel”
The graphics in the Headspace’ video introduction 1 src="https://player.vimeo.com/video/90758138?color=ff9933&title=0&byline=0&portrait=0" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen>were cute and colorful as children’s cartoons, and the narrator (whom I later learned is Andy Puddicombe,) went on about the various benefits and features of the app.
The introduction was lacking in certain respects, however. A more emphatic, scientifically backed message about Headspace’s benefits would strengthen the offering. Headspace may benefit from a more detailed explanation of their meditations and how they differ from their competition. Those small changes could greatly improve user comprehension of Headspace and why he or she needs it on their phone or PC. After all, Puddicombe and Co-owner Rich Pierson’s whole goal in creating the Headspace app was to make meditation less intimidating,
We both thought, how could we present meditation in a way that our friends would genuinely give it a try? Rich had all these creative skills, and I had the experience as a monk. 5
The Meditation Session
What happens next is likely the reason for Headspace’s worldwide success. Unlike some meditative recordings, Headspace’s sessions can be enjoyed and executed anywhere.
I think that the true test of the app is the “Take Ten” free trial. Ten sessions for ten days at ten minutes long, these sessions introduce the user to the world of meditation, and give you a great feel for the Headspace experience. With absolutely zero billing information required, I subscribed to Headspace’s free trial on my laptop, and began Headspace’s first of ten trial sessions. After a 30 second sign up, I was instructed by “Take Ten - Day 1,” to take a seat and begin.
If there is one very important facet to leading guided (or any) meditation, the voice that guides you is catalyst to the overall success of the session. Andy Puddicombe’s voice is absolutely articulate, perfectly calming and tonally pleasing.
Day one of “Take Ten” required the ability to sit and close my eyes. I found my way to the ground, as I do normally when practicing meditation.
(I find that the best way to feel “grounded” without relinquishing all comfort is to use a bolster or pillow like this one. The Zafu Cushion is made for these types of sessions, especially if you have chronic pain. You’d never imagine what a little tip of the pelvis can do for back pain or improving your posture, until you try it yourself.)
Like other meditation sessions that I have used, focus on breath was first in order. “Feeling the weight of your body…” “not requiring your body to change posture,” I slowly began absorbing the commands, spoken with a lovely British accent. Finding and following your breath is essential to all meditative practices, and the trial sessions are rudimentary. In other words, unlike the paid version, where you can choose from “Fear of Flying” or “Sleeping,” these sessions are more universal. Ten minutes later, my blood pressure lowered and my shoulder tension diminished almost entirely. This is the primary goal of these types of mindfulness exercises - the immediate anxiety relief and centering of self.
The Fun Part
When I was about seven to eight minutes in, Puddicombe redirected the exercise from counting. At this point, I did not expect what happened next to occur, especially considering I’ve recently been experiencing a bit of a creative “block” (it’s almost as though my imagination has been out of stock.) The instruction was to “let your mind do as it wants”, be it “think”, “race”, or whatever my mind chose to do in that moment. I was not expecting my mind to imagine such a calm, creative space in less than ten minutes. Nevertheless, I catapulted into the sky, decidedly jumping from one pink cotton candy cloud to another. Not thirty seconds had passed before the first session was over, leaving me calmer, if only somewhat wistfully wishing I was back in the sky.
The truly novel aspect of Headspace is how the app attempts to incorporate the various mindfulness exercises into your daily routine. Whether the user is aiming for maximum performance throughout his or her day or achieving zen-like tranquility while completing routine tasks, Headspace has a session for it. Some of the more exciting sessions include improving relationships, SOS moments (think 3:00 freakout ) and maybe the most exciting: harnessing creativity.
Included in the “Performance” series, “Creativity” sessions are a part of the subscriber’s plethora of options. Judging by the “Take Ten” trial meditations, as well as Andy Puddicombe’s lengthy list of credentials, the “Pro” version of the app may be the best $95 you spend all year. The meditations were designed using scientific studies, including Headspace’s own ongoing research.
Maybe most importantly, the “bald man in a skirt” behind Headspace did his homework. Puddicombe, like the best Shaman and Yogis, recognizes and honors the origins of mindfulness 2.
So is Headspace the next big thing? Considering how yoga and other holistic practices are surging in popularity, or how Marie Claire is writing about Shaman, my answer is yes, 100%.
I see the most value in the way Headspace encompasses tasks universal to daily routines, fears of the average person, and results driven, goal-oriented sessions. Consider how much a yoga class, massage or therapy session costs. When you tally those numbers, $95 a year for Headspace seems like small change to spend for scientifically proven relief from anxiety and depression 7.
I recommend Headspace. At least try the ten day free trial, with a meditation for each of the ten free days. I know I can’t wait to complete my “Take Ten,” so I can upgrade for the full experience.
How the Headspace App Works:
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