A few days ago I posted this little gem to some of my social media accounts, celebrating the fact that I have now completed seven days in a row of Headspace! People seemed intrigued about what Headspace is, so I wanted to share my experience and knowledge of it so far through a means that is a little more detailed than a text message or Instagram comment. Here, you can learn about why I use Headspace (and why you should, too!), what the app is, how it works, and how to get started.
When embarking on any new strategy of self-development, it is always important to establish a “why” first. For me, I struggle with the stress that everyone deals with at some point, as well as with more severe anxiety. Meditation has been recommended to me, and I enjoyed my initial experiences with guided meditation in settings like therapy or yoga class. The importance of meditation, particularly as a daily practice, became evident to me when I read Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning (expect a more detailed post about that soon). The first practice he recommends every morning is silence, which I have decided to achieve through guided meditation. Basically, I want to prioritize my mental health each day, and I find that meditation is a great tool of self-development. I choose it as a daily practice now because it not only provides relaxation in the moment of the meditation, but it is teaching me how to find “headspace” during moments where it seems like my thoughts are overwhelming or I simply want to engage myself with the present moment.
There’s also a ton of science behind the benefits of meditation if that is more your thing. In fact, Headspace partners with different researchers and projects to continue building knowledge on the topic. If you’re interested in reading more about what their research has found, check out this page.
What is Headspace?
Headspace is a guided meditation app, a “gym membership for the mind” according to its creator and voice, Andy Puddicombe. A guided meditation itself is when a person’s voice leads you through a meditation by giving cues and reminders. This can be done in a variety of ways, with some of the simpler guided meditations instructing users on breathing while others go through entire visualization scenarios (e.g., leading you through imagining you’re walking through a serene forest). To me, “headspace” is simply what its name implies– creating space in your mind where thoughts and emotions can naturally come and go.
How does Headspace work?
When you download the Headspace app, you are downloading 10 free guided meditations that build on one another, a series that the app refers to as “Take 10.” These meditations are each about 10 minutes long and generally follow the same structure:
SETTLE DOWN: eyes open, getting comfortable, deep breathing
NOTICE ENVIRONMENT: closing eyes, becoming aware of your senses
BODY SCAN: starting at the head and moving down, building a picture of how your body feels
BREATHING AWARENESS: acknowledging your breath, counting breaths up to ten
ANYTHING GOES: allowing the mind to do whatever it wants
REFOCUS: bringing attention back to senses
REFLECTION: reopen eyes, reflecting on how you feel
Once you finish the first ten days, you can continue having access to these meditations. Alternatively, you can choose to become a subscriber. They have different options for subscribing; users can either pay month-by-month or for an entire year at a time. In the long run, subscribing for the entire year will save you some money (about $3 a month I believe). Once you are a subscriber, you have access to all different sorts of meditations. The foundation pack continues with Level 2 and Level 3 which will build on the skills you learned in Take 10. There are also health, relationships, and performance packs which have different topics within them. I haven’t done any of the meditations beyond the foundation packs yet, so I don’t know how much they deviate from the traditional Take 10 structure. I am excited to find out as I develop my meditation practice though!
You’re excited, you’ve downloaded the app, and you may be asking yourself “what now?” The good news is that the first meditation- day 1 of Take 10- starts with a short animation called “Getting Started.” This will help you know how to prepare and what to expect, but the meditation itself does start immediately afterwards. Here are the tips that Andy suggests:
CREATE SPACE: Find a comfortable area, preferably one that is quiet.
MAKE IT A ROUTINE: Meditate every day, preferably at the same time each day. Andy recommends meditating first thing in the morning, and I would recommend that as well! It has really given a different start to my days.
BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF: Meditation is difficult, especially with our fast-paced society. There is no “perfect” way to meditate; thoughts will come and go naturally as you learn to clear your head. Don’t get too frustrated if you have to constantly redirect your attention at first. This is normal, and you will improve with practice!
SIT COMFORTABLY: Find a comfortable seat (Headspace suggests sitting upright in a chair with feet flat on the floor and hands resting on your lap). You are ready to begin!
Headspace suggests that you sit upright in a comfortable seat, with feet flat on the floor and hands resting gently on your legs.
You can feel free to adapt though! Do what feels good. Sometimes I like to incorporate yoga into my Miracle Morning, so I might practice Headspace in a more traditional meditation yoga pose (with the benefits of my stones!).
There you go! You are ready to start your own Headspace journey. You can sign up for Take 10 for free here or just search for “Headspace” in your app store. Feel free to leave a comment below– I’d love to know how Headspace is working for you or if you have a different mediation app or practice you prefer!