Headspace

Meditation. What does that word mean to you?

To some it will be a bit too airy fairy, and only something for hippies or weirdos. Or you might have heard a lot about it, but are unsure how to even go about getting started.

Well if you’re willing to look past your preconceptions or fears around meditation, you might want to try Headspace’s free Take Ten programme, which offers ten guided meditations lasting ten minutes.

Headspace takes a very modern approach, using great web and mobile design to help people establish a daily meditation habit. Each day you are guided through the process by Andy Puddicombe. Puddicombe is a former Buddhist monk, so he knows his stuff!

Update: I’ve now completed the full Headspace program. I speak a little bit more about it, and the differences between mindfulness meditation and transcendental meditation in this podcast:

Why is Meditation Useful for Creative People?

I’m sure a lot of people reading this are attracted to the idea of taking some time out of their day in order to calm their mind. After all, with all the ideas and thoughts floating around our minds, us creative types probably need it more than most.

In fact, given the title of this blog, it’s perhaps surprising that I haven’t discussed meditation in depth before now.

The fact is that both anecdotal and scientific evidence have shown that there are widespread benefits to meditating regularly. I’m already feeling the benefits! The Headspace site has loads more info on this.

Why now?

You might want to try it now in order to help calm your mind at a busy and often stressful time of year. Or you may want to start doing it in the New Year. Thankfully, 10 minutes a day for 10 days is very manageable.

The truth is that whilst I’ve tried different meditation techniques in the past, I’ve never made it a regular habit.

And having given up drinking alcohol for what I’m calling ‘a Year of Clarity’ it made sense to try and establish a new, positive habit of meditating to take advantage of those mornings without a hangover.

Here are some of the positives and a few drawbacks of the Headspace approach. Bear in mind that the main Headspace programme takes a full year and there is a charge for it, so this free programme is obviously designed to get you to sign up to the full programme. However whilst you need to sign up with an email address, there is no charge for Take Ten itself.

Headspace phonePositives

  • Beautiful and useful design of both the website and mobile apps.
  • Very well designed apps for both iPhone and Android mean if you have a smartphone, you can access the Take Ten programme for free anywhere with a 3G connection.
  • The Take Ten programme is an extremely simple ‘taster’. Each meditation is guided so you can’t really go wrong.
  • It’s free!
  • You can set up reminders in the app so that you don’t forget to take part
  • There are videos which help you to approach the meditation including the best way to sit, and the best time to do the practice. Puddecombe suggests first thing in the morning, and I’ve found that repeating it a second time each day works really well.
I only found a few, very minor niggles about the Headspace system. Nothing’s perfect, after all and I’m sure these are things they could improve in future.

Negatives

  • You need to give your email address and you will be sent about 3 emails prompting you to sign up to the full programme. I would have preferred to only receive one email at the end, but perhaps the repetition helps people remember and you do get offered a decent discount on the normal annual fee which helps. The ‘from’ field in the email also says ‘lapsed’ which was a bit off-putting.
  • On one of the days there was some downtime on the Headspace server, meaning I couldn’t access the meditation recording on the phone app. However this does seem to be a rare occurrence as I have now signed up to the full year and done 10 more days without any problems.
  • There are videos in the app, but annoyingly they can’t be watched in landscape mode on my iPhone so they are very small. Apart from this, the app is very well designed, but this does irritate me every time a video pops up (some of the recordings have an additional video intro from Andy).

If you do sign up for the full year, you’ll get guided meditations for every single day of that year, which go through a number of different themes. The first programme once you sign up is Take Fifteen. Things do gradually become a little more complex as the days go by, but it’s manageable so far. Also by the end of the year you will have received guidance on how to meditate on your own.

Of course you could just as easily learn how to meditate from someone you know who is already doing it, or from a book, but I love the Headspace approach because it is making establishing a daily habit extremely easy and pleasurable. As the title of this review suggests, as far as I’m concerned, signing up was a no-brainer.

Here’s a good intro video if you want to find out a bit more.

Sign up here: www.getsomeheadspace.com

Let me know in the comments if you are going to try the Take Ten programme. Or, if you already meditate, let us know what benefits you’ve experienced from your practice.

If you found this post useful, you might also enjoy my free ebook ‘Refresh Your Mindset’ which is available free when you subscribe. (You can read an extract here).

16 Comments

  1. Thanks for the recommendation! I already have a meditation practice of my own, but it can be so very hard to keep up with it, especially during busy times of the year like the holidays. When I do keep up with it, I just feel generally calmer and more relaxed throughout my day – not just during the ten or twenty minutes that I’m meditating. It really does have so many benefits.
    Lacey recently posted..Coming soon!

    • Hi Lacey, thanks for commenting, it’s great to hear from you!

      Glad you’re seeing benefits of your own practice. I’ve definitely found that doing it first thing in the morning helps a lot. If I leave it until later I’m likely to forget it, and doing it just before bed seems a waste.

      Look forward to seeing more posts on your blog :)

  2. What a coincidence! I just discovered (and checked out) this book in my library. I’ve read exactly three pages so far, so I’ll refrain from commenting further until I’m finished the whole thing. Hope you are doing well!
    : )

  3. I’m doing the Take Ten programme (for the third time). The first two times, I thought I could continue meditating regularly on my own. I failed miserably. This time I plan to sign up for the full year.

    • I’d definitely recommend it Henry – I’m just over the half way stage and there are quite a few different techniques involved. I think after a year it will be easier to continue without being guided.

  4. I used to meditate, stopped because I was taking some medications that fogged my mind and made it impossible to continue my meditation practice. Now I’m off those meds and decided to give Headspace a try to get back into it.

    After two days, I love it! It feels like coming home, and it’s really good to have the support of the guided meditation. As you said, it’s a way to help establish a longer term practice.

    I’m in a very high stress period of my life. After each of the first two meditations, I felt much more grounded inside myself, calmer, more focused, more positive… However, my past experience tells me that it won’t always be easy and feel great, but it’s important to persevere with the practice. I’m glad to have found Headspace to help me get back into it for the long term.

    • Glad it’s helping you Madrisa! It can be difficult to sit down and do it some days but I really miss it if I don’t meditate now.

  5. I’m completing the 10 day challenge and so far think it’s great. I can feel really worked up and agitated sometimes and This helps to just relax me and give me focus. Definitely better done in the day though as I just find myself sleepy at night!

    Was contemplating the subscription but really not sure. … How helpful have people found the full year?

    • Hi Selina. I will be writing a follow up post about the full year very soon. I can highly recommend it, as it’s one of the best habits I’ve stuck with. My day is usually much better if I get my meditation done first thing.

  6. Hey Milo I am going to sign up realy soon, just finished the free program. I do it during the day, but will try in the am after my run. ( when I get up that early) I am going thru a life change so this helps. My question for you is are they all just 10 min long? I also do open focus before I go to bed and it’s been helping me sleep better. How did no drinking for a year work out? I like to do 10 days off every once in while, but a year that insane.

    • Hi Glen, thanks for your comment. It’s taken me so long to reply that you’ve probably found out by now that the meditations increase from 10 minutes, to 15 minutes, to 20 minutes and then stay at 20 minutes for the rest of the program.

      I found meditation a good thing to do before running, but I think it’s important to find what suits you best personally. I hadn’t heard of open focus before but will check it out as I sometimes have trouble sleeeping.

      I enjoyed the year without drinking but it was difficult at times. It has resulted in me being much more moderate now that I’m drinking again. I wrote more about it here: https://medium.com/lessons-learned/9e6434c7df80

  7. Hi Milo,
    how did you go with your year of headspace? I’m doing the initial Take 10 at the moment and am unsure if the subscription is the way to go.

    • I’d recommend it Caroline. I talked about it a bit more on this podcast:

      They have also just updated to a new version with lots of extra options.

      • Would you mind reposting the link to the podcast you mentioned? It looks like in your last comment, the link was accidentally left out/not posted, and I’d love to hear about your full year experience! I’m also weighing my options as far as investing in a yearlong subscription.