The faster society moves, the harder it can be to slow down. Meditation is surging in popularity as an antidote to the anxiety of modern-day life. Launched in 2011, Headspace quickly caught on and has remained one of the go-to meditation apps. Headspace isn’t just an app full of calming sounds to help you sleep (although that is an option), it offers an array of solutions to various mental challenges you may be facing.
Headspace has a whole library of sounds, timers, meditations, interviews, advice, and courses. Together, they can aid sleep problems, stress and anxiety, performance mindset, personal growth, work and productivity, kids and parenting, life challenges, physical health, and more. Headspace often leans towards using “mindfulness” in many of its meditations and courses. Again, this is an in-vogue choice with plenty of scientific research endorsing its positive results. You can access 14 sessions for free, but you will need a subscription to unlock the rest.
Does your head need some Headspace?
Mental well-being tools are not just for some people... they are for everybody
Headspace is an intuitive and easy to use app. It has a simple design, dividing the main categories (Sleep, Stress and Anxiety, Performance Growth, etc.) into colored banners on the “Explore” tab. Clicking into one of these will give you a list of sessions akin to the style of YouTube videos. Each category has a comprehensive library to choose from. “Kids and Parenting” covers everything from “Sleep Tight” for under-fives to “Pregnancy” and “Losing Your Temper” for parents. The application has “hundreds of theme sessions” and considering you will probably want to revisit these more than once, that makes enough content to keep you going for a lifetime.
You can actually buy a “Forever subscription” plan, which means exactly what it says. Your subscription will be active for one hundred years, or until Headspace goes out of business (according to their terms and conditions). If this is too much of a financial commitment, you can purchase a yearly subscription which includes the first 14 days free. Both of these come with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Alternatively, you can pay monthly (with the first 7 days free) and cancel anytime. There are also discounts available for students and families. If you are feeling generous, you can gift the app to someone.
If you’re thinking of just using the free version of the app, that is an option. You will have a very limited number of sessions to use, however. Specifically, you will have access to the first ten sessions of “Basics”, three sessions of Everyday Headspace and the Falling Back to Sleep Wind Down exercise. It’s a great way to get to know the app and whether you like the Headspace “approach”. One way they have really excelled over other mental well-being apps is with their animations. They help explain and cement concepts, especially if you are a more visual person. This may seem a little basic but simplicity is the key when you are learning something for the first time.
The creator of the app is a Buddhist monk, Andy Puddicombe. Andy is at the forefront of the mindfulness movement and helped to bring it global attention and under the microscope of medicine and psychology. Although he has not transferred all the techniques he practices such as his 8-week Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction program, his expertise has undoubtedly helped to form Headspace. He wanted to make the application accessible to everyone and help as much as possible, without the need for professional guidance. It’s debatable as to whether he could or should add more. While some can find the level of meditation is limited somewhere between beginner and intermediate, the app has certainly opened the healing doors of meditation and mindfulness to many.
Where can you run this program?
If you are an iPhone user, the app requires iOS 10.0 or later. It is compatible with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. You can also download Headspace’s Apple Watch app so you can use the panic button whenever you need help coping with a stressful situation. The panic button is also available on mobile phone applications. For use on an Android device, you will need Android 4.4 and up. While you are not able to use Headspace on Macbooks or PCs, it is much easier to have this app installed on a device that you can use “on the go”.
Is there a better alternative?
Yes, the Insight Timer App has many more guided meditations and it is completely free. Cost is nothing compared to your health but when you can get a similar service for free, it does become a deciding factor. You can’t go too far wrong with Headspac; it has clearly worked for many people. Popularity is not always a reflection of what is good or not, however. Headspace has spent a lot of money marketing the name to be “that name” people think of. Similarly “big” apps include Calm, The Mindfulness App, buddhify and Sattva. Insight Timer may not have the money to compete with the likes of Headspace and Calm but the content is high quality, free, and there is much more of it.
Headspace has certainly helped to raise awareness of the positive effects of meditation and mindfulness, reflecting the work of its founder. There are many who can testify to it working. The app is easy to use, making it accessible to all ages (even to children as young as five years old). On the other hand, it is expensive and limited to basic and intermediate meditation practitioners. Insight Timer App literally has more to offer. It has many more meditation sessions available and it is free. Simply put, Headspace does not give you enough for your money.h3>Should you download it?
No, instead download Insight Timer App which offers more and is for free. Headspace has become a big name but that's more due to the money they have pumped into marketing than the app itself. Save your money by using an app that competes on merit, not with paid advertisements and sponsored endorsements.