Headspace is a web and mobile meditation platform that allows you to cram 10 to 60 minutes of calm and clarity into each day of your over-connected and fast-paced life. The company is releasing a new version today, after reaching over 1 million users in 150 countries. I have been a daily user of Headspace for six months now, and it’s interesting to see how technology can help when it comes to meditation.
Now, meditation is still an unfamiliar skill for most people. Do you think meditation means cross-legged sitting and chakras opening?
I am Parisian, which means that I’m completely blasé, cynical and skeptical. When one of my friends introduced me to Headspace, I couldn’t help but snigger: “another I-drink-carrot-and-ginseng-juice-every-morning Californian hipster thing.” He answered: “Well, first, the startup is based in London. Second, I think you kind of need it.”
So I forgot about my assumptions, put my cynicism away and looked into it. The on-boarding experience convinced me right away. From the first second, you’re walked through very short videos that explain how meditation works and what you should expect from it — this one sold it to me.
All the principles you learn from him are applicable in everyday situations, and there lies the true power of meditation.
There’s a thousand reasons why you might want to look into meditation — maybe you need to be able to go to sleep at night, to be less stressed out in your day-to-day activities, to free yourself from an addiction and more. For me it boils down to living a happier and more mindful life.
With Headspace, you learn to do just that, by taking 10 to 60 minutes out of each day. During this time, Andy Puddicombe will guide you by simply telling you what to do, what to focus on, and what are the mechanisms in play.
Puddicombe is one of the founders of Headspace. I like to think of him as Buddha 2.0. On the one hand, he’s bald and lived 10 years as a monk in the Himalayas, Burma, India and Nepal. On the other hand, he and his co-founder Richard Pierson built a beautiful web and mobile platform to demystify meditation and make it accessible to anyone around the globe.
Puddicombe’s teaching goes beyond the 10-minute meditation sessions: all the principles you learn from him are applicable in everyday situations, and therein lies the true power of meditation.
After a week of meditation, I was already able to step back and cope with unpleasant or complex situations in a far better way, ranging from not getting upset when the suburban train is late (which happens all the time in Paris) to staying rather sane when in just one week I quit my job, gave up my Parisian apartment and flew to New York without a return flight.
The idea of Headspace came quite naturally: Puddicombe was travelling around the world teaching meditation with the complete monk attire, robes and bells and stuff. A company he was working with in Russia told him that it saw a direct benefit in teaching meditation to their employees, but that it might be best to adopt a more occidental fashion to do so.
He then met his co-founder Pierson, who directly saw the potential of mediation by making it scalable through a beautifully designed web and mobile platform, and Headspace was born in 2010.
Meditation is on the rise. Everyday, a few more friends tell me that they’ve begun meditating, I find more press on the subject, and Headspace’s user base is growing at a clip of 20 percent per month. Andy’s reading of this phenomenon is that neuroscience has proven the benefits of this practice on the brain.
This new version globally offers the ability to personalize your meditation journey with programs that best fit your needs
Meditation isn’t an arcane tradition anymore, but a method recommended by scientists, doctors and therapists. Interestingly, Headspace’s users are almost split equally between men and women (respectively 45 percent and 55 percent) and touches very broad age groups — the company’s youngest users are 4- or 5-year-old children learning meditation with their parents, and the oldest user is 92 years old.
Today, Puddicombe and Pierson are releasing version 2 of Headspace, which globally offers the ability to personalize your meditation journey with programs that best fit your needs.
There are four main categories: Foundation, Health, Relationships, Performance. I had the chance to access a preview of this new version and was impressed at how much new content was available and how well it integrates with specific situations: with this version 2, you’ll have access to special programs to meditate on-the-go, while commuting or eating for example.
You can get a feel of Headspace for free during ten days. After that, if you’re convinced — as I was — and want to dig deeper into it, several subscription plans are available: between £3.74 and £8.95 per month, or a one time plan of £249.85 for unlimited access forever.
There’s also a “Headspace SOS” mode that I can’t wait to test in real life moments — in this section you will find two-minute sessions for meltdown moments. Other features simply make meditation easier — you can effectively track your progress, and create emulation, by following your friends’ progress directly through the app.
Headspace gives you access to meditation and all the necessary knowledge to meditate in a smart way. Puddicombe said regarding the new version that “there’s nothing like it out there.” I totally agree.