Trying Headspace: Guided Meditation
Since I was around 16 years old I’ve struggled with anxiousness, I’ve always been a terrible sleeper, and I panic at the most random times over the most random situations, such being on a metro. So, I’ve always wondered if there was a way I could control my panicking and anxiousness, and help with my sleeping habits. That’s when I noticed Headspace popping up in YouTube and Facebook adverts. Before now, I’d never even considered meditation, never mind actually tried it, and when I first started seeing headspace I never in a million years thought it could possibly help – until I read more into it and saw the reviews on the app store from people it has truly helped, so I thought I would give it a try.
It is free to download the Headspace app, where you then get a ‘Basics pack’ of 10 sessions to try before you purchase the full app where you can then gain access to hundreds of guided meditations such as: anxiety, stress, sleep, depression, pain management, anger, change, self-esteem, relationships, happiness, acceptance, productivity, focus, leaving home, motivation, analysis, and the list goes on and on. To purchase the full version, you can either pay £9.99 per month, £74.99 annually, or a one off payment of £399.99. Personally, I don’t think £9.99 per month is a big loss if you really enjoy the app.
What I also think is great is that they have packs for children under 5: happiness, appreciation, balance, sleep, calm, kindness, focus, and wake up. Plus, they have ‘Headspace for Teams’ which is for companies to use with their employees, and many leading companies have joined, such as Google, LinkedIn, GE, Unilever, and Spotify.
Personally, I’m very intrigued by the stress, anxiety, and sleep meditations, but for now let’s stick to the free Basics pack. So, for the next 10 days, I’m going to be trying Headspace: Guided Meditation, keep reading to see how it went!
Day 1 – Monday Morning – 29th January Firstly I watched the guide video which gives you 3 simple steps on how to start – find a place in your routine, find somewhere you won’t be disturbed, and make sure you’re sitting comfortably on a chair. Although I was at work doing this, I just stayed at my desk with my headphones in and this was fine. Before getting started, you can choose whether you want to meditate for 3, 5 or 10 minutes – since it was my first time I stuck to 3 minutes. Although I am going to give this a fair chance and this is only my first day, I really wasn’t keen. I highly recommend not having any sort of caffeine before this as when breathing, all I could feel is my heart pumping rapidly in my chest and it made me all hot and dizzy, so lesson learned with that. Another thing is I was sat in an office chair with no neck support, which made my head feel extremely heavy, so I would recommend sitting on something that supports your whole, relaxed body.
Day 2 – Tuesday Afternoon – 30th January
Since yesterday wasn’t very enjoyable, I decided to stick with the 3-minute meditation and learning from my mitsakes, went to a quiet area instead with seating that could support my head and neck, still using my headphones. I also didn’t have any caffeine which made a difference. This time was a little more enjoyable and I was slightly more relaxed, but for some reason I still feel stressed when all I’m focusing on is my breathing and my heart beating. To be honest though, I did feel slightly more relaxed after and felt more focused on my work. From now on I’m going to try and do this at the same time every day (around 1pm).
Day 3 – Wednesday Afternoon – 31st January
Today I stuck with the 3-minute meditation again, and took myself off to the same quiet area with my headphones. This time, there was a video before my meditation started. The video was a reminder that meditation isn’t about blocking out or changing thoughts and feelings, but about teaching ourselves to think about them differently. It was also a reminder that this takes time to get used to, which motivated me to keep trying.
During the exercise I still felt quite restless, but I’ve now learned that that’s okay, and to let the body feel however it does. After, I did feel slightly more relaxed, but I think that I’m going to have to give this a try at home too, maybe I’ll feel more at ease there.
Day 4 – Thursday Afternoon – 1st February
As I have more time in the afternoon and I’m at work, I’m unable to do it at home yet, so I’m going to give the quiet area another chance today, then maybe try somewhere else tomorrow. Before today’s exercise it states that meditating consistently can be difficult, but anchoring it to something else in your routine can make it easier, such as ‘brush teeth, meditate, shower’. In today’s exercise I felt that my mind was a lot more at ease, I felt that holding a good posture helps with the breathing and allows my body to feel less tense, but one thing I have noticed is that my eyes never want to close properly, they always feel strained, that’s something to work on tomorrow.
Day 5 – Friday Morning – 2nd February
Even though it’s breaking routine, I wanted to try this in the Morning again for 3 minutes, before I’d had any caffeine at all and while I’m still quite relaxed and sleepy to see if that works better for me as this is really all about trial and error and learning the best way to do this. So again, I took myself off to a quiet place with my headphones in and started the exercise.
To start off with, there was a video about effort and how the saying ‘the more effort you put in the more you’ll get out of life’ and how this isn’t always true, using sleep as an example, the more we force it, the harder it is to achieve. With meditation, the mind is not meant to be trained and confined, it is more to find the minds natural place of rest. Today felt a lot better, it felt like I was only meditating for a few seconds, instead of what’s felt like a long time the past few days. These exercises are really just about getting used to meditating and easing yourself in, finding what’s right for you and what you need. I enjoyed today.
Day 6 – Saturday Morning – 3rd February Since I enjoyed yesterday and it felt so short, I thought I would try the 5-minute exercise today to see if I enjoy that. This time my boyfriend was doing the hoovering and I didn’t want to get in the way (and it’s too noisy), so decided to do this in my car, to test out if you actually can do this anywhere, so I cranked up the heaters, reclined my seat slightly and put in my headphones.
Today is about getting to know the mind a bit better, learning to not run away from anxiety’s or discomfort, but to let them arise and be curious about them instead. I quite enjoyed today again, even the 5-minute long session flew by. One thing to note is that I usually feel quite tense when meditating, and that was acknowledged in today’s exercise and it is normal to feel that way, it is actually the body releasing tension.
Day 7 – Sunday Morning – 4th February
As I’m at home again today I found this much easier to fit into my routine, so I got out of bed, had my breakfast, then sat on my sofa with my head phones in to complete today’s exercise. Today started with a video again, this time a reminder that our mind is like the sky, it can sometimes get filled with dark and stormy clouds, but underneath there is always a blue sky, we just need to be able to find it. I decided to stick with the 5-minute exercise as I quite enjoyed it yesterday. The blue sky concept actually really helped me to relax, so much so that I didn’t want to open my eyes, I could’ve fallen asleep, which is the most relaxed it’s ever made me feel, so I think I’m improving and getting used to it.
Day 8 – Monday Morning – 5th February Just like yesterday, I find this a lot easier to do when I’m at home, so I think if I carry this on in the future, it’ll definitely have to fit in my routine before I go to work. So again, I got out of bed, had breakfast, got ready for work, then sat on the sofa with my headphones in.
Since I really enjoyed yesterday, I’m going to stick with the 5-minute exercise again. I’ve actually noticed that if I carry out this exercise at work, I feel more productive after, but while doing them at home, I feel extremely relaxed and sleepy after, maybe that’s something to consider. Today’s session was about paying more attention to the mood and emotional quality of the mind. Again, today’s exercise seemed a lot quicker than it was and made me feel so relaxed I nearly fell asleep, maybe I should do this on a night time at home to feel relaxed ready for bed, and on a morning at work to feel productive and ready for the day. I will test this theory tomorrow, by doing a 3-minute session in the morning and a 5-minute session at night.
Day 9 & 10 – Tuesday Morning & Night – 6th – 7th February
Today I decided to wait until I got to work to do the exercise since I ended up sleepy yesterday, so once I got myself sorted at work, I took myself off to the quiet area with my headphones in. I decided to only do a 3-minute session due to doing another one tonight.
This morning’s session started off with a video looking at how training our mind can teach us how to deal with our thoughts, allowing us to analyse them and accept them, which can help us to be less critical of ourselves and others, and allow us to become more at ease with the world around us.
I found this really good for me as I’m usually very judgemental of myself and because I think that way, I usually think everyone else is judging me to, which deep down I know is not the case, but that’s just the way my mind works. So, by taking this time to delve into my thoughts, hopefully I can start to analyse and work through them, and become at ease with the world around me.
When I got home from work, I did my usual routine, then at around 10pm I decided to wind down and complete my final exercise before bed to see if it would affect my sleep, or whether I would end up feeling energised again. I also decided to do a 5-minute exercise to really take time and relax and give this a real try. As this was the last exercise in the basics pack, I found out that by this time, meditation may have actually changed my brain already as through neuroplasticity, the brain creates new neural pathways, so every time you meditate, you make it a little easier to process thoughts and emotions.
More practice is key in being able to master this, but this is a great start.
During this session, I felt the most relaxed out of all the rest. My breathing wasn’t off, I didn’t feel as tense, and I was really able to relax and enjoy the experience. After the session, I didn’t want to open my eyes again, so I had a little stretch, then took myself straight to bed and had a great sleep, then felt energised when I woke up, which never usually happens.
Overall Thoughts: Before starting this exercise I was definitely a sceptic, I did understand how meditation could be a relaxation technique, but I really didn’t think that it could change how your mind works and how you manage your thoughts and emotions.
From the first day up until this point a lot has changed, I found a way I like to meditate, I felt that my body became more used to it over the days and I actually feel more energised and that I’ve been more productive since starting this. The exercises are more or less the same every day, just depending on how long you want to do the exercise, but there are different messages every day and you do learn about what the mind can do and why you may feel certain ways, and also how meditation can change the mind and body, which is good to know.
I honestly feel that meditation will have different effects for everyone as we’re all different, so the best way to do this is find a time and place that’s right for you, and if you feel that this could be right for you, give it a try and see how it goes.
Overall, would I pay for the app? I’m unsure as, £10 per month isn’t too steep, especially if this does really help you and has a positive effect on your life, but until I see changes in myself since not using the app, I’m not going to subscribe just yet.
If you would like to look into Headspace, their website is linked below and their app is available for download on: the Apple Store, Google Play, and Amazon.