What I have learnt from 50 days of meditation using the Headspace app.
Headspace is an app which you can download to your phone if you would like to take up the practice of meditation. It is something which I became interested in after hearing so many successful entrepreneurs and people in general speak so highly of the benefits of meditation each day. A lot of people attribute their success and happiness to this daily practice.
I have had a few question on how this app has helped me, if it has even helped me at all. Therefore I thought it best to do a blog post on my experiences so far.
This morning was day 52 of using the headspace app, I am yet to miss a day since I downloaded the app.
You can download Headspace from the app store and get a 10 day free trial to see whether it is something you want to commit to doing and paying for. After the 10 days are over it is then £7.99 every month to have access to the full Headspace collection.
I have suffered from anxiety in the past, a feeling of not being good enough, my thoughts taking over everything so that I feel paralysed from doing anything at all. I get overwhelmed very easily with things I have to do, or things which I am told I should be doing. I get moments of panic pretty often where I just cannot focus on anything and want to retreat into my own little bubble.
After reading on how meditation and mindfulness had helped so many people I thought it would be worth a shot, I had nothing to lose from having a go at the 10 day free trial which Headspace were offering.
The Free Trial
The first 10 days are like an introduction as you would imagine. You are asked to sit down at roughly the same time every day as you are guided through some breathing exercises and though processes. When describing these to people it sounds so simple, somebody with a calming voice just telling you when to breathe, how is that going to help?
I cant explain fully how this helped but it did. I was able to use the breathing technique throughout the day during periods when I could feel myself getting stressed or anxious. In fact I started doing so without even realising it. 10 breaths and then repeat.
You are told to try and repeat this daily at the same time in order to create a habit.
Andy, the narrator, has such a calming voice, but not in an irritating way. You feel comforted by him and feel like you trust what he is saying to you.
I was still zoning in and out at this point, but rather than tell you off or aggressively get you to refocus, you are told to recognise that the mind has wandered and just bring it back to the present moment and focus on what you are supposed to be doing.
I knew something was working but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was and therefore decided to stick at it and sign up for the full collection. It was doing any harm so why not keep going and see how I get on?
The full introduction period is actually 30 days long, therefore I had a further 20 days to go through before actually gaining access to the different collections. This wasn’t a problem to me as I still felt like a newbie so wanted to continue this process before exploring the other areas.
I did it one morning whilst on a weekend away in Harrogate with Laura next to me. She agreed that it was calming yet thought it would send her to sleep if done whilst tired. I was
I was still struggling to remain focused for the full 10 minutes, you find your mind wandering and thinking about your day. What clients did I have in, had I done everything in preparation, what did I need to get at Morrisons. But as soon as I realised my thoughts had wandered I could bring it back rather than just giving up.
Choosing a series
Once the 30 days is up you can choose a series to follow from the Headspace collection. These include FOCUS, SPORT, HEALTH, RELATIONSHIPS, PERFORMANCE, FOCUS. I chose focus as this is an area I know i struggle with.
This series has definitely been more of a struggle for me in terms of remaining present for the full 10 minutes. I find my mind wandering a bit more. I don’t know whether this is down to the choice of series, or whether I was simply not ready to leave the introduction stage.
In this series of meditations you are told to find certain points throughout the day to practice little things, but I just completely forget until it is mentioned the next morning so that is something which I need to work on.
I will continue though and reach the end before selecting a different series to concentrate on.
What have I learnt?
Do something everyday and you will create a habit.
I practice my Headspace app every morning at 5am. I make my first coffee of the day, do the 10minutes, and then get on with my day. I made a point of doing it every day, no matter whether I had other things which I knew needed doing. Now I feel like it is just a habit and I don’t think about it. Even whilst travelling I have been able to keep it up – not at 5am – but I have still made a point of completing the 10 minutes.
You do have a spare 10 minutes in the day.
No matter what you think, you can find 10 minutes out of your day. Those 10 minutes you spend aimlessly scrolling social media, or watching crap on TV, or catching up with the latest celebrity gossip online? Use those 10 minutes in a more productive manner and you will feel so much better for it. They say that if you don’t think you have a spare 10 minutes then you need it more than most!
Taking time to breath is so important
When I feel myself getting anxious or stressed during the day, I have automatically paused to breathe before reacting. I have done this without even thinking about it.
10 minutes goes by really quickly
You would think that 10 minutes just sat listening to an app with your eyes closed would go on forever. It doesn’t, before you know it Andy is telling you to open your eyes and get on with your day!
Do what works for you
There are lots of ways to meditate and become more mindful. This is one way which I have found to help my daily consciousness and I feel like I am able to commit to it.
The benefits of just showing up
Not every day has been a success. Some mornings my whole 10 minutes has been spent worrying about the day ahead, or flitting between thoughts and not being able to concentrate at all on what I am being told to do. But I still feel good for showing up and trying instead of just giving up or not even attempting it. This idea of showing up no matter what can be transferred over into other life occurrences.
Something has worked
I cant pinpoint exactly how it has benefitted me but I feel different in some way. I have found that I am less reactive, for example instead of snapping at my sister or Mum for doing something I have consciously been able to stop myself and think before speaking which has avoided negativity and fallings out. Like i mentioned above, even just focusing on my breathing throughout the day has helped.
Meditation doesn’t mean sitting on a floor with your legs crossed chanting
Meditation and mindfullness will mean different things to different people. Some people can do it for an hour, some people only 5 minutes. It is about what works for you. For me, Headspace has just been about taking time out to reflect and breathe before getting on with my day.
Will it work for you?
I don’t know. All I can tell you about are my experiences and how it has helped me. But don’t just take my word for it, do some research and hear about what other people have to say:
There are other apps available, I know a few people like the ‘Calm’ app too. But you have nothing to lose by giving the free trial a go and seeing how you get on.
If you have any questions at all feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer them!
Love Abi xxxx