Friday, 28 February 2014

Do your thoughts have spatial awareness? Headspace: A review.


'Mindfulness', defined on Wikipedia as 'an attentive awareness of the reality of things'. It was this word that set me on the path leading to Headspace, a new meditation phenomenon that is taking the world by storm.  
Whilst have a coffee with my friend and former hypnobirthing instructor I was talking about my self imposed challenge of blogging every day for a month. I described how actually while it was hard work it was a positive experience, as I was thinking about everything I was doing and whether it was blog worthy. She immediately nodded and told me that's because it was, like the hypnobirthing, making me more mindful.  
It seemed like a funny coincidence that just a few days later, on a saturday, I came across an article in The Times magazine talking about mindfulness and meditation. It was an interview with LA based Bristolian, Andy Puddicombe, creator of the headspace app. This is the person who the New York Times cite as 'doing for meditation what Jamie Oliver did for food' and already has a following of the likes of Davina McCall and Gywneth Paltrow. There are some very specific reviews on the headspace website from Vogue and the BBC as well as the Times and the headspace channel available on all Virgin Atlantic flights.   
Meditation is something I have dabbled in and when doing hypnobirthing for the birth of my second child, daily meditation was a vital part of the training process. This was my first real experience of the intense relaxation that meditation can bring about. I remember the first time I succeeded, I felt a little bit like I'd discovered a rather intense tranquiliser, but in a good way. However, despite feeling like a I got a lot out of learning hypnobirthing it never crossed my mind to utilise these skills once I'd done the birth bit.  
This daily meditation that I had undertaken so rigourously was something I greatly missed post birth. Caring for a newborn just wasn't conducive to taking so much as a few minutes a day to empty your mind and focus on your breath. Quickly, my relaxation training fell by the wayside, totally submerged in the pit of my new world of childcare and homemaking. 
So, the idea of having meditation spoon fed to me and available via my phone or ipad sounded appealing. However, it didn't come with a time machine allowing me to fit it seamlessly into my already bursting at the seams day. So of course I was dubious and kind of expected it to be great for a few days but then, once again, it would join the dusty bits of lego under the sofa of my mind.  
I signed up for the free 10 day trial and had no idea what to expect. Day one starts with a short clip presented by Mr Puddicombe himself, talking you through a series of short animations using metaphorical imagery to describe the mind and our thinking process. He then talks you through a 10 minute meditation. I have already touched on the fact I have no time, so I decided that the only time slot available, would be just before I go to sleep.  This wasn't ideal, as a few times I fell asleep mid-meditation and woke up face down on my kindle. Also I am someone who finds going to sleep sometimes difficult because there is so much going round in my head and after my first few meditations, I would immediately afterwards have to write down a to do list of things that kept popping up in my head. I couldn't risk letting them be forgotten. However, suddenly I found going to sleep very easy and I also really looked forward to my pre sleep relaxation time. Soon, my quick, post-meditation to-do lists were abandoned, I felt like I didn't need them anymore. I cannot explain why or how this works but compared to some of my previous pursuits for mental agility and satisfaction, such as bullet proof coffee, this certainly compares more favourably and has less impact on your cholesterol levels.  
I was surprised how easy it was to complete 10 consecutive days. I received emails throughout, telling me the cost if I signed up for a year. I am still dubious that it could still fall off my radar and so have signed up for a month, if I can successfully manage this then who knows. Watch this (head) space.


Some further reading on mindfulness READ HERE
Check out the Headspace website HERE

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