My Personal Experiences with Meditation and the Headspace App
“I’m not very good at formal meditation.”
I remember a time when I genuinely believed that- I think I may have even said those exact words on a few episodes of my podcast!
It seemed like informal meditations and practising mindfulness during everyday activities were the only ways I could successfully meditate. I told myself that my mind was too active to allow me to sit still and focus my attention for longer than a minute or two. Plus, I was just too busy! Why aim to spend 20 minutes of my day meditating when I already knew I wouldn’t be capable of it?
Eventually, I started to realise that formal meditation might be an interesting practice for me to incorporate into my life; not because I thought I’d be good at it, but actually because I thought I wouldn’t be.
I downloaded a few apps, I read numerous articles and I began exploring various types of meditation. I attended a yoga nidra class, tried floating for an hour and started listening to meditation music (which I wrote about in my article Unique Meditation Experiences). Almost a year ago, I enrolled in my Advanced Certificate of Meditation and I can safely say I’ve learned a lot about meditation and myself over this time.
As it turns out, I can meditate in a formal way. It’s definitely a challenge at times and there are moments when I could cry from frustration. I’ve struggled with back pain, falling asleep during meditations, sudden and strong emotions, difficulty concentrating and lack of motivation.
However, I keep meditating because it genuinely enriches my day-to-day life. It gives me moments of complete contentment (even during stressful days) and sudden clarity when I’ve been feeling confused. It allows me to take a break from the constant chatter of my mind. I’ve curated my creativity via visualisations and developed my confidence with affirmations.
I love the journey of meditation because I never know what’s coming around the next corner.
A happy surprise during this journey was the Headspace app, a resource conceived by the meditation teacher Andy Puddicombe. It’s an incredible tool for meditation which provides guidance and support, as well as fun opportunities to learn and gain new skills.
The very first meditation I used was a simple 3-minute mindfulness meditation, which encouraged me to explore my breath and body in that moment. It allowed me some space for my mind to wander (as it always likes to do!) then helped me re-focus in a very gentle way.
I took some time to explore the app and discovered that more than 20,000 people were meditating at that very moment! It was heart-warming to think about all those people out there meditating with Headspace and it is a real testament to the creators of the app, who made something both fun and meaningful to use.
As I sat down to write this article, I went into the Packs section of Headspace and used the first meditation for creativity (under work and performance). It was a 10-minute meditation using a simple visualisation technique which encouraged me to imagine my own spark of creativity and picture it growing. It felt light-hearted and effortless and the time passed quickly (as I find tends to happen with these meditations!). There was a wonderful balance between silence and guidance, which allowed me to explore the meditation on my own and stay focused, too.
So, Headspace helped me create a sense of growing creativity. What if I was looking to improve my self-esteem? Well, there’s a pack for that under “Happiness” (containing 30 sessions aiming to explore critical thoughts and reduce self-judgement).
And if I was hoping to manage stress? There’s a pack for that, too.
In fact, there’s over 40 different packs (each containing between 10 and 30 meditation sessions), from relationships to sports training. I absolutely love that Headspace aims to empower the people who use the app in so many different areas of life.
And then there are the single meditations, which include walking, falling back asleep and meditations for anxious moments (like before interviews and exams). If there’s ever a moment when you could use some support (and some assistance processing the experience via meditation), Headspace is a brilliant resource.
One potential challenge when first using this app is the possibility of overwhelm. Have you ever gone to the library and borrowed 20 books (which all sound like great reads), only to find yourself starting most of them and never finishing? Taking this approach with Headspace will likely leave you feeling lost and disheartened.
I would encourage you to take things slow. Start with the basics pack on day one (it will be the first meditation Headspace recommends you to try) and maybe do a single meditation, such as the 3-minute End of Day meditation. Feel free to explore the app to see what’s there, but try not to start all the different packs on the first day.
You can also keep track of your meditation sessions in the Goals section, to help you see what you’re up to. Try to use Headspace at the same time each day to form a habit and use the single and mini meditations when you need them.
Overall, Headspace is exciting to use (unlike many other meditation apps I’ve tried) with its clever incorporation of animations, bold and bright colours, playful meditations and pretty designs. It’s an app which is fun and educational, simple to use and meaningful. I highly recommend it to anyone who would like to explore mindfulness and meditation, whether they have been meditating for years or don’t yet know what meditation is.
Headspace is also part of a pilot program currently offered by Bupa called Future Fit, which aims to empower people to look after their health. In this pilot program, you can receive access to various health and wellbeing services, such as a 12-month subscription to Headspace, healthy meals delivered to your door by Dineamic, group fitness classes by AirActive, and more. If you’d like to discover more about Future Fit, click here.
If you feel challenged by the idea of meditation (like I did!), please remember that it’s a practice, which means it will continue to grow and evolve. You don’t need to be “good at it” or stay focused for the whole meditation. You can use tools to help make the journey easier and more fun, such as the Headspace app, and just explore where you practice can take you!