I first wrote about meditation in July of 2013. The post (linked here) I penned shortly after reading the seminal work Meditation for Dummies. At the time I was very excited and curious about meditation. I knew that a more focused mind would make me more effective at work, and (although I didn’t exactly know how) I also hoped meditation would help me live a more balanced and complete life.
Looking back over the past three years, I have to admit, I have not practiced meditation nearly as much as I wanted. I just haven’t found the right combination of routine, venue, and motivation to make it all work on a regular basis.
That is, until last month when I discovered Headspace (Well – I didn’t really discover it, my colleague Jenny Cox recommended it to me – but it felt like a discovery).
The concept behind headspace is simple – it’s an app for your smartphone that offers guided meditations. Each guided meditation is between 10 and 20 minutes long and is arranged in a “pack” – a sequential series of guided meditations focusing on a particular topic (e.g. Relationships, Focus, Health, Performance, Anxiety, etc.). Each pack is 30 sessions long and is designed to be completed like a course, the first few meditations introduce basic concepts and as you progress, you practice and master the techniques. Toward the end of each course, there is dramatically less guidance, and the last few meditations can be almost completely quiet except for a few prompts.
The concept of a smartphone app that provides guided meditation is not new to me, I had also dabbled in the past with an app called Calm (on the recommendation of another former colleague Caitlin Fitzharris).
The reason headspace is special is because it provides a journey into meditation. The quality of the content (which as far as I can tell is all narrated by creator Andy Puddicombe) is excellent and the candy-land like progression from one stage to the next provides a great feeling of accomplishment.
Another cool thing about Headspace is the freemium model. To start out – everyone does the same first 10 days – they call this “Take 10”(this if the free part of the freemium model). On each of those first 10 days, Andy takes the listener through a straightforward, easy to grasp 10-minute “mindfulness” meditation session – which is largely the same from one day to the next. On some days there are animated videos to further illustrate the lessons you’re learning, but it’s mainly the same technique repeated over and over. I found the whole thing to be quite wonderful. After the first 10 days, you can choose where you want to go next (and, at that point, they start collecting their relatively steep fee at $12.95 per month, or $96 per year – which I happily ponied up).
After I completed my first 10 days, I went straight for the anxiety pack.
I’m currently on day 23 of 30 of the anxiety course, and I can’t say enough about how great it has been. The anxiety sessions are really a minor tweak on the foundation lessons – but really do teach you (through careful practice) to more clearly identify your thoughts and feelings.
Overall I can’t say enough about how great the app is. In addition to feeling more centered and balanced, I now also use the headspace technique pretty much anytime I need to quiet my mind – when I’m commuting, when I need to fall asleep on overnight flights, and anytime I’m feeling at all off balance. If you’re at all interested in meditation, check it out!
Also from a business perspective, it’s really a genius idea. The creator of headspace has basically found a way to get folks to pay $13/month to listen to mostly silence on their headphones. That’s almost as much as Audible.com (which costs $14.95 per month) and over 50% more than Netflix (at $7.99/month) and both Netflix and Audible have to split that fee with the authors, publishers, and distributors that create the content. If he’s not already, my guess is Andy Puddicombe will very soon be printing money.