Most of my life I’ve wanted to try meditation. When I was younger, badass movie stars (like Jean-Claud Van Dam and Bruce Lee) made meditation look cool. And now, as an adult, I’m looking to find purpose in my life. I thought mediating might help.
So I signed up for the Headspace experience hoping to discover the benefits meditation.
Highlights of this post:
- What is Headspace meditation?
- Can I get Headspace experience for FREE?
- Take 10 + Headspace: What to expect as a beginner
- How effective is Headspace (Take 10) guided mediation?
- How did Headspace fit into my life?
- What was the free Headspace experience like?
- A weird benefit of mediation
- The Overall Review: does Headspace work?
- A daily look into my Headspace experience
- What to expect after Headspace? AKA: Conclusion
What is Headspace meditation?
Headspace offers guided meditation and mindfulness training programs. The company declares its audio sessions are “your gym membership for the mind.” For a beginner (like me) guided meditation is ideal. Instead of just siting and hoping to “figure out” mediation, the Headspace audio walked me through the stages of each practice.
The co-founder of Headspace – Andy Puddicombe – is a former Buddhist monk. Born in the UK, Andy traveled throughout Asia training For 10 Years. He returned with a mission: make meditation relevant and accessible.
Do not expect religion or spirituality from Headspace. Or theory. This guided meditation focuses on the practice of meditation.
Can I get Headspace experience for FREE?
Of course you can Silly! (why else would I create this heading?)
Headspace has a free program called ‘Take 10’. The program requires 10 minutes each day, for 10 days. To start, you get the Headspace mobile app, or download the audio sessions to your computer / tablet.
If you are morally unobligated a search of popular torrent sites may also yield options for downloading Headspace Take 10.
Take 10 + Headspace: What to expect as a beginner
How effective is Headspace (Take 10) guided meditation?
I was new to meditation and didn’t know how to start, so guided meditation was appealing. The narrator is Andy himself, and his voice is easy to listen to. During each 10-minute session he walks you through the fundamentals of breathing, sensing, and awareness.
The Headspace program designers are tuned-in to newbies. It was sometimes eerie how Andy could anticipate my mediation concerns:
Am I doing it right? How should I sit? What should I feel?
After my 10-day experience with Headspace I was curious to practice mediation on my own, and Take 10 taught me how.
How did Headspace fit into my life?
My work schedule is flexible so finding 10 minutes each day wasn’t difficult. But… I still failed to practice every day.
Life gets in the way. Even with a loose schedule it took me 15 days to complete the 10-day program. When you start Headspace, expect to defer a few of the daily sessions.
I listened to Take 10 mostly at night and it was a mistake (I think). Sometimes I felt sleepy, sometimes I was distracted. In the future, I’m going to try meditating in the mornings. The morning seems best as there are less distractions.
What was the free Headspace experience like?
My wife and I both tried Take 10 and we compared our experience after each session. Some days were engaging for her, while agitating for me. Sometimes I enjoyed the practice, and she had trouble. I assume that everyone’s Headspace experience is a personal thing. A different result each day.
A weird benefit of meditation
Headspace has improved my exercise program. Using one of the meditation concepts, I can hold static positions longer. Wall squats for example.
Headspace taught me to give attention to pain, and then move my attention elsewhere. Doing this seems to reduce dull aches (at least for a short time). After learning that mediation can reduce pain I’m interested to see if I can help my persistent lower back pain.
The Overall Review: does Headspace work?
My review of Headspace & Take 10 is a big THUMBS UP. Headspace is worth trying if you are new to meditation.
I had no idea how to start meditating, or what I “should” be doing. Listening to Headspace was simple and I didn’t need to read a how-to book, or scour the internet for advice. All I had to do was close my eyes and listen.
After the 10 days of guided meditation I have enough experience to practice on my own. And I’m looking forward to it. Meditation hasn’t solved my problems, but it does feel nice.
A daily look into my Headspace experience
Take 10, Day 1 – Watched the introductory videos. They are cute and made sense. I chose to meditate on the floor, not in a chair, and was concerned when Andy talked about the sensation of your feet on the floor. Because mine weren’t.
Take 10, Day 2 – Andy tells me to breathe deeply through my nose and out through my mouth. My nose whistled and it distracted me. I thought mediation might be like a hypnosis trance but it is different. Today’s lesson followed the same meditation stages as yesterday.
Take 10, Day 3 – Yesterdays 10 minutes went by fast. Today I was sleepy and nodded off a little. I dreamt that I was being chased through the snow and fell off a cliff (WTF). Today’s session had the same pattern as yesterday, and I’m getting the hang of it.
Take 10, Day 4 – I’m happy that Andy doesn’t talk too much. His voice is nice, but during the quiet I can really get into counting my breaths. The bathroom is next to my bedroom and my brother went and pee’d just as Andy reminded to me focus on the sounds around me. Sigh.
Take 10, Day 5 – When Andy invites my mind to wander I feel that it should be wandering. When allowed to wander my mind doesn’t, but when I want to focus I think of everything? Why? Either way, today’s mediation practice was (as always) 10 minutes long yet seemed faster.
Take 10, Day 6 – Every day is the same routine with tiny new challenges. This is good for learning. I’m starting to look forward to relaxing and counting my breaths. Andy keeps encouraging me to find external sounds but when I practice and the house is silent. I never thought that mediating in a noisier environment would make a better Headspace experience.
Take 10, Day 7 – OK, so I played a zombie shooting game all day and it is messing with my meditation. I keep expecting zombies to charge me. I’m having trouble quieting my mind. Also, I sneezed partway through and lost my concentration. No more videogames before Headspace.
Take 10, Day 8 – I’m getting better at focusing. Or at least the time between my thought interruptions is getting longer. Today (as encouraged) I searched and found pride, resentment, and happiness in my practice.
Take 10, Day 9 – It sounds easy, just acknowledging a thought and sending it on its way. But the reality is I want to stop each thought and play with it. Is it because I’m an engineer or because I suck at meditation? It’s time I review the Headspace video about traffic again.
Take 10, Day 10 – Today I was proud to finish Headspace. After the session Andy prompted me to try Take 15 and Take 20 but it wasn’t a hard-sell. Now that I’m familiar with the Take 10 process I will try mediating on my own before deciding if I should pay for Headspace.
What to expect after Headspace? AKA: Conclusion
I liked Headspace and after completing Take 10 I’m curious what I will experience if I keep practicing meditation. Headspace does offer guided meditation about creativity, relationships, and focus. I would like to try them, but they are subscription-based and I don’t want to pay. Yet. At least until I try practicing meditation on my own and discover how that goes.