Over the years, I’ve read a few books on meditation. More than once, I’ve tried to establish a practice but failed because I don’t stick with it long enough. Although I’m sure meditation would benefit my mental/emotional health, I’ve never successfully made it a part of my daily routine.
It occurred to me that now would be a good time to try meditation again. For me and for many people, the past few months have been an emotional roller-coaster.
This time would be different, however. I decided to download the Headspace app for support and guidance.
After downloading the app and creating login credentials, Headspace asks me to select one of three focus goals. I can choose from: (1) “managing anxiety and stress,” (2) “sleeping soundly,” or (3) “being more active.”
I select the first option, and Headspace takes me to a screen that says, “Let’s Create your Meditation Practice.” Headspace tells me that I will learn “life-long skills” to help me on my “mindfulness journey.” No grandiose claims here. I feel reassured that I’ll be led to create my own, personal “practice” that will be “life-long.”
After this warm introduction, the app takes me to a screen where I can select a subscription plan. I opt for the 2-week free trial that culminates in a 1-year subscription unless I cancel.
I click on the 1-minute “Expert Guidance” feature called “Dark Side of the Mind.” Speaking over a humorous, animated cartoon, a narrator explains that while negative (even violent) thoughts sometimes arise during meditation, they are natural and not to be feared. Okay, so now I’m even more reassured and already beginning to relax.
My First Meditation Session
Next, I click on “Today’s Headspace” called “The Reactive Mind.” I can select the length of time I want to spend on this exercise, anywhere from 3 to 20 minutes. Scrolling to the 5-minute selection, I begin the meditation.
A man’s voice with a pleasant British (Australian?) accent leads me through this first meditation. He begins with reassurances about how it’s natural to seize on thoughts that enter the mind, and he suggests that letting go of those thoughts is achievable and beneficial.
In a slow, calm voice, the guide tells me to sit in a relaxed position, close my eyes, and focus on my breathing. Next, he instructs me to feel my body sitting in the chair and to relax into the weight of my body. Following that, he leads me through an awareness of sounds around me and then tells me to let go of that awareness. Finally, he tells me to re-focus on breathing, and he closes out the meditation.
First of all, I like the app. The interface is easy and friendly with animated, feel-good characters. You can click on several choices of courses that teach meditation techniques. I immediately see numerous options that I want to try out.
As for the 5-minute meditation period, I think this maiden voyage is somewhat successful. I do feel relaxed. In fact, I yawned over and over again. But there was no way that I could resist thinking about other things: what I was going to have for lunch, projects I need to work on this afternoon, etc. etc. I’m feeling positive, though, and ready for further instruction in how to make meditation work for me.
Day 2 through Day 7 – Daily Headspace
The guided meditations on Headspace are pleasant and relaxing. I decide that late afternoon is the most convenient time for me to meditate. Each day, I find myself looking forward to this brief respite as I go about my day.
Every day, Headspace presents the option to click on “Today’s Headspace.” On days 2 through 7, I select the 10-minute option for my sessions. Each session has a title/topic and begins with a mini-lecture (1-2 minutes) on the topic. These topics include:
- “Clarity in the Mind”
- “Known Unknown”
- “Meditating Proactively”
- “Witnessing Thoughts”
After a brief instructional talk on the day’s topic, the calm voice of the guide leads me through a 10-minute meditation session. Although my mind frequently wanders, I do like the encouraging way in which the guide suggests gently returning my focus to deep breathing.
Other Features to Explore
In addition to “Today’s Headspace,” there are many interesting features to explore. During the week, I click on several options to learn more and find out what Headspace has to offer.
I click on several of the “Expert Guidance” talks. These are mini-lectures where the guide discusses interesting topics such as letting go of habitual thoughts to broaden horizons and reach my potential.
I click on “Everybody Headspace” to join a guided meditation session. Headspace tells me that I’m joining a live session with 58 other people meditating at the same time.
Headspace offers a screen to “set your intention,” allowing 250 characters. I type into the screen: “Open my mind to new possibilities and expanded creativity. Welcome new horizons not yet seen.”
“Mindful Moments” provide inspiring messages that I can click on at any time. These are quite short, and I get a quick dose of encouragement and motivation.
I decide to take a “course” on meditation basics. I listen to the first lesson called “Finding Focus.”
Headspace offers so many interesting features that I think I would never get bored. I keep in mind that I’m only seeing the choices pertaining to the “managing anxiety and stress” goal. At any time, I could begin to explore the “sleeping soundly” or “being more active” goals. So, there’s much more to the app than what I’m seeing during my first week.
Overall, I’m pleased with my 7-day trial period on Headspace. This experiment has been far more successful than past efforts where I read a book and tried to establish a meditation practice on my own. The guidance from Headspace is an excellent advantage.
Photo: Sebastien Wiertz, Wikimedia Commons