Clearing your head with Headspace

I haven’t shared an app review with you before. Usually, I’m not that thrilled about the apps on my phone. This time however… Headspace! Headspace is more than just an app.

Headspace can help you get started with meditation.

“Meditation??”  you might ask…
“I’m not a Buddhist monk…”  you might say.
Well, neither am I!

I’ve had a little spark of interest in meditation when I started playing the Didgeridoo. Because when I was playing didge with a small group of amazing people, I always felt so zen afterwards. Didgeridoo is played by making a vibration with your lips, and the rhythm is your breathing. I think it’s the complete focus of my mind on playing the instrument, combined with the kind of breathing exercise required to create the rhythm, that made this into some sort of a meditation for me. I was so relaxed after each didgeridoo session.

So ever since (that’s at least two years ago by now), I’ve felt like meditation might be something I should look into. But on the other hand.. come on, meditation, me?! When I think about meditation, I think about floating monks and temples on Himalayan mountain tops.

This is where Headspace comes in. Headspace takes the scary aspect of meditation away, and makes it approachable for everyone.

pebbles - by unsplash

So, meditation…

What is meditation? Meditation might be described as a state of deep peace that occurs when the mind is calm and silent. Meditation might even be described as a means of transforming the mind. When we just focus on the first part of this definition, a calm and silent mind, you might already feel more inclined to give it a try.

Headspace starts out with the “Take 10” course. The goal of this course is to get acquainted with calming your mind in just 10 minutes each day. You start out by taking a comfortable sitting position and taking a few deep breaths. Then you are guided step by step to focus your attention on your breathing, to feel how your body feels and to let go of any passing thoughts. See, nothing scary there!

At first those 10 minute sessions seemed like a long time for sitting down and “doing nothing”. But by now I’ve discovered that my new 15 minute exercises just fly by.

You can try out Headspace with a 10 day free trial. I was lucky enough to run into a questionnaire program, which allowed me to get a free three-month subscription in return for completing 30 Headspace sessions and filling out a few online surveys. After your trial ends, Headspace offers a monthly subscription for €9.95 or for €5.99 a month if you subscribe for a whole year. You can read more about the Headspace subscriptions options here.

If you are like me and you feel like there’s always a dialogue going on in your mind, I can now tell you: there’s a different way! Your mind doesn’t need to be having conversations with itself all the time.

Headspace is helping my head to behave itself, I’m learning how to properly interact with my thoughts in a way that they won’t keep taking over my mind, but instead just to be acknowledged so I can move on.

Once you’ve subscribed, Headspace also offers a multitude of in-depth series on Health, Performance and Relationships, to work on your mindset towards those goals.

beach - by unsplash

For me the hardest part was not in the meditation sessions themselve, but in disciplining myself into sitting down every day, even if just for 10 minutes. I guess discipline is just really hard for me. Headspace recommends setting a fixed time or moment every day, so you can easily integrate Headspace in your daily routine.

Another struggle for me is to be more mindful during the day. The suggested course of action for this is to start out with noticing, just noticing, the movement from sitting to standing or from standing up to sitting down throughout the day. After the first day I was absolutely mortified, I hadn’t been able to notice standing up or sitting down even once! Fortunately I was reassured in the next Headspace session that noticing this even two times in a day would have been an amazing score.

Lately I’ve been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She confirms running into a similar issue, as she notes:

One problem with not being very mindful, it turns out, is that you have trouble keeping your mindfulness records.

 
By now I’ve completed 3 fundamentals courses of 10 exercises each, and 7 exercises of one of the health packs. After every single session I feel like there is more space in my mind. I open my eyes and seem to be seeing with more clarity. Like everything is somehow brighter or more colorful. And my mind feels “open”. Open for getting my hands dirty, open for improving my relationships and generally just more at ease.

Sometimes I compare my mind to a computer (occupational hazard). I’m often out of memory for instance, or my battery feels drained. But after a session of Headspace, I feel like I’ve freed up some of that memory and I’ve got renewed power for processing any event that comes up during the day!

If you want to give it a try, just do so! Download the app and free up 10 minutes of your time. Doesn’t sound too bad, huh!

 
Pebbles picture by Austin Neill, Beach picture by Brian Mann

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