September 10, 2015
Meditation, and its less religious-sounding twin, mindfulness, have been making appearances in the headlines in the last couple of years. For good reason. Research has shown that deliberately disconnecting your mind can help improve your mood and stress levels for the remainder of the day.
How can this help you at the workplace or for creative endeavors? While picking up a book and going through exercises is permissible, there are other options nowadays. One, in particular, is called Headspace. Founded by student-turned-monk-turned-entrepreneur Andy Puddicombe, it aims to “demystify” meditation and make it accessible to anyone who wants to take a little break and check their own mental health.
Meditation isn’t a quick fix. While many positive effects are known, you can’t expect it to work if you only take the time to do it once a month. Like any skills or habit, it has to be done often and with a persistence that willl break through into your routine and stick with you; that will create lasting change.
As you boot up Headspace, you’re greeted with ten foundational days to help get a new user used to the rhythm and setting. While these ten sessions are technically only offered as a trial, they never expire and you can go through them as many times as you want.
No music or noises play during the meditation – the only sound you’ll hear is Andy’s spare, quiet, words to help guide your mental attention. Don’t worry about him talking too much, either; I’ve never felt like he didn’t know when to be quiet. Often, Andy will explain mindfulness techniques with the advice that you carry the thought through your day, or touch and reflect for a couple minutes a day. Many of the sessions will build on each other, and by the time you finish your initial 30 days, you’ll have some good techniques for managing stress and anxiety outside your meditation sessions.
In one of the early sessions, he mentions to try and notice every time you stand up or sit down – not to make a big deal of it, but simply to notice it. He says to aim for three separate instances of being aware of sitting or standing. Admittedly, I thought three would be child’s play. It wasn’t until the end of the day that I realized I had forgotten entirely.
You can select between 10, 15, and 20 minutes for the length of your daily meditation. There are dozens of modules (30 days each), and a couple of guided and unguided sessions for 60 minutes. The advantage of using the app to track unguided in favor of a timer is the app keeps track of how long you’ve meditated, your meditation-streak, and how many modules you’ve completed.
One of the biggest things that mindfulness advocates is holding less attachment to stray thoughts or feelings that you might encounter throughout your day. To not judge and hold accountable every single passing idea, and to let them just flow in and out of you. By choosing to not engage with all the information, thoughts, and ideas present in our lives, we can focus more on the ones that do matter, that we’ve decided matter. And isn’t that the best way to live a fuller, happier life?
If the app piques your interest, there are plenty of great meditation books to take your understanding to a newer level.
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