Learning to meditate III – a taste of Get Some Headspace

A few weeks back I followed up on an old idea and blogged about meditation apps.  That turned out to be a spur to try on the habit of meditation.  After various experiences in February, I read an article about GetSomeHeadspace.com and embarked on their Take Ten taster.  This blog recounts my experiences.

Headspace is “a project designed to demystify meditation”.  The website, which you can find here, is fresh, modern and exciting with a mixture of science and practice.

It’s also, for those of you who are interested in this kind of stuff, a powerful example of content marketing.  They give you the Take Ten taster and they send emails to encourage you and also to offer you discounts on the full year’s subscription.  Very nicely played, Headspace!

You access the programme via the website or via the apps, after you create an account.  As you might imagine, I have the App.  It is on both my iPhone and my iPad.  The App on each iDevice updates itself as you progress.  It is very effective.

There are some cute animations to encourage you to meditate and to stress the key messages like effortlessness and the accessibility of calm and happiness.   The Blue Sky animation is particularly important.  It illustrates that meditation isn’t about achieving anything.  It is about waiting for the clouds to pass to reveal the blue sky that was there all the time.

The Take Ten programme asks you to complete a session a day for ten days and each session takes ten minutes.  You can download the sessions and play them back later or listen to them on-line.  I did very well for the first 8 days, completing a session every day.  Then I had a day that I missed when I went out and had a houseguest as well.  These are my observations:

  • I liked not having to choose which meditation to do every day.  I also liked the relaxed style and the English accent of the guide, Andy Puddicombe.
  • The sessions have a regular format: deep breaths to start; awareness of the body on the chair; scanning the body; counting breaths up to 10 and then starting again; and, finally, letting the mind run free.  I found that I couldn’t remember the sequence without playing a session but that’s OK Andy is always there to guide me!
  • As early as day 6, I noticed that when we got to the part about letting the mind run free, I felt like I was lifting my face up to the stars.  It was lovely.
  • A couple of days I was very tired when I meditated.  My limbs were restless and they hurt.  I think that is tension releasing itself.
  • Paying attention to breathing is common to all the mindfulness meditations I have undertaken.  What I’ve noticed is that I can’t feel the breath.  I very rarely notice things like the breath on the way in being cooler than it is on the way out.  What I notice is the effect of the breath: the up and down of the chest, well, not even that unless I’m lying down; more the expanding of the abdomen or, sometimes, the rib cage, or the lifting of the shoulders.  I think this is fine – it is just how I am – but some meditation guides seem to expect me to do more.  Take Ten didn’t expect that.
  • I like the analogy Andy suggests for thoughts.  He says not to try to stop them but to observe them like traffic passing in front of you when you are on the side of the road.

Anyway, you can tell that I enjoyed the programme because I bought the 365-day programme.  It really doesn’t cost much and I like the format of it.  I’ll keep you updated as I move on to the next programme: Take 15.

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