What do you think of when someone says “meditation”? Maybe an indie type who also drinks green tea, talks about their journey of self-discovery, and is working on a truly fabulous beard? Not for your ‘average-joe’- types? Well, with the Headspace app, you now stand corrected of whatever misgivings surround mindfulness and meditation.
“For me I think-- yeah, I still think of it as a mission. It's something I set out not with commercial intent. Commercial kind of success has come along with it and that's wonderful because it allows us to be able to sort of fulfil our mission.”
Headspace has been around since 2010, but its popularity seems to have increased in the last two years. Creators Andy Puddicombe (former Buddhist monk) and Richard Pierson (works in marketing and brand management) teamed up to share Puddicombe’s experience with meditation and mindfulness through his teachings in Asia. Since its launch, the app has an average rating of 4.8 stars on iTunes and Google Play, and sixteen million people have used the app at some point in that time. It allows people the chance to undergo meditation, as a support system to other positive mental health actions. The app gives users a forum to find their own paths to clarity, under the guidance of Puddicombe’s mindfulness experience.
“I think most people just think meditation is about calming the mind and quieting the mind, and that is more of– I’d say it’s more of a by-product of meditation. Ultimately, meditation is about kind of prospective and clarity and calm comes as a– as a result of that. It’s really sort of by focusing the mind on one thing because normally we are very distracted, we’re caught up in all of the business of mind. We are able to sort of sensor the mind and focus it. And as a result we feel a little bit more calm, a little more clear.” – ANDY PUDDICOMBE, in an interview with CBS News in 2015.
“After years of nothing but anxiety, a feeling of life being one long ‘thing to do’ list…this feels like I am finally on the right path to lasting resolutions.” – Headspace user
“We invest so much money and time on clothes, or food, or hobbies and stuff, but we never seem to invest in ourselves. Headspace allows us to do that.” – Headspace user
“I think the difference between headspace and all the other apps is it’s soul purpose is to teach you to be more mindful and to help make your life happier. With every kind of meditation you could think of- meditation for depression, sports, creative writing, eating disorders, insomnia, panicking, or even just breathing. It’s perfect.” – Headspace user
I personally started using Headspace on-and-off three months ago. At first, I thought, what on earth is this guy asking me to do? Breathing? I’ve already managed that, thanks. But as time progressed, and I worked through the basic techniques programme – completed by all new users – I began to understand more and more what the process was all about. I use it every day, and even use its sleep-centred podcasts to calm me before sleeping. Though its been a relatively short time, using the app’s podcasts has offered me a kind of peace I’ve not been able to manage in my own time. My family are also frequent users for a variety of reasons – stress, anxiety, focus training. For each of us, Headspace caters to our needs, and I couldn’t imagine not having access to Andy’s podcasts now. – Headspace user.
The app has many advantages, but one hiccup in some users’ usage is the subscriptions for the full service. There are three options: £9.99 a month; an annual subscription at £5.99 a month, paid in a lump sum of £71.88; and a lifetime subscription, paid in a lump sum of £299. Headspace will not reveal just how many of their users are monthly, annually, or life subscribers, but there are varied opinions on the value of the app for the money owed. The range of reviews and advice from users is to let it cater to your own needs. Many users are still in the beginning stages, and do not use the app consistently enough for the subscription to be relevant. Others find some in Headspace they cannot find elsewhere, and feel the commitment is necessary. Overall, it is the individual choice, and its up to you to ask yourself what your own needs are.
Mental health is all about your individual choices, feelings and struggles; so, the solution must be something you feel works perfectly for you. Perhaps you’re in a position where the financial implications of a subscription cost add more pressure and stress, thereby making the app slightly redundant. Or, if you find comfort in the support that Headspace offers, paying for it may not be a second thought. Whatever side of the fence you sit on though, it’s undeniable that Headspace offer a modern-day approach to positive mental health. In an age where you can Google the answer to anything, order food to your door within seconds and don’t even need your wallet to pay for things; it’s incredibly promising to see technology being used for such a worthwhile cause. Having a modern, tech-savy support system for those seeking a level of meditation and calm might appeal to a demographic who previously thought mindfulness wasn’t for them. It makes the practice more inclusive.
Contributed by Katie Mountain, University of Salford Student.
One Stop Social has a whole range of helpful mental health resources to further your practice and to ensure the vulnerable people you work with get the best support . Here are just a few recommended tools and guides we find useful.