I’ve been interested in building a routine of meditation for a long time. Generally, I go a month or two of meditating fairly regularly before the discipline slips and I lose focus on the practice. So when I heard about Headspace, an app designed to guide you through meditating, I was intrigued.
Before I tried it out, I poked around on the internet and read a lot of mixed reviews, some saying it was great, some saying it wasn’t effective, and some saying they just didn’t think it was worth the price. To sign up for a month of Headspace, it’s around 13 dollars (As of writing this article) with significant price breaks if you commit to a year or two years. I decided to do their free 10 day trial to see for myself and wound up subscribing for another month after. As my first month draws to a close, I felt I should give a quick review for any others in my situation who might be interested.
I won’t go in to a ton of detail about how headspace started or how it works since you can easily gather all that from their own website. What I will say is that the app itself is very well designed and very aesthetically appealing. The lessons are broken down into packages, starting with three foundation packs of 10 sessions each and then moving into your choice of more specified packages. There are packages for creativity, anxiety, and a wide variety of other health and performance based focuses. There are also one-off courses that focus on mindfulness in a variety of everyday activities like walking and cooking.
What I found reassuring about the way the lessons are structured is that the app requires you to finish the foundation packages before moving on to the more focused classes. To me, that indicates the creators of the app are dedicated to providing you with an effective practice, rather than a more instantly gratifying experience that may provide little in the long run. I’m just wrapping up the third package in the foundation and I’m really happy with the progress I’ve made and excited for the new lessons.
Is it Worth it?
I’m of the persuasion that you should always be weary of someone with a definitive answer to a question like this. Meditation is a very intimate practice, how one treats his or her income varies greatly from person to person, and the notion of “Worth it” is obviously extremely subjective. With that said, I think you can break the question down into two portions: What are you paying for? And Does it work for you?
What are you paying for?The obvious answer to this question is the hours upon hours of content. There’s a pretty impressive selection of packages and one-off lessons. Some are 10 minutes long, some are 15, 20, and even longer. but as much content as there is, and as good as it i, I think it would be a mistake to assume that’s all you’re paying for. Indeed, there’s a ton of free meditation how-to’s and guides for beginners and advanced practitioners floating around on the internet.
Where I think you get the most value is the overall experience. Like I said, the app looks great. The experience is intuitive, the app tracks your progress, provides helpful animations and videos to support the lessons, and the lessons themselves are about as solid a guide to meditation as I’ve ever found anywhere else. Clearly the folks at Headspace are putting in a lot of effort to achieve the right look and feel for an app of this kind and I personally think they’ve nailed it. Keep in mind that aesthetics and user experience go a long way in defining how we will interact with a service and getting those things right isn’t always easy. I think, beyond the obvious answer to “What are you paying for?”, it’s important to keep the supporting factors in mind as they can have just as great of an effect on your experience.
Does it work for you?
This is the ultimate question you need to answer for an app like this. All the pretty user interface development and supporting animations in the world won’t be worth a thing if you’re not getting from the app what you were looking for. I started with Headspace because I wanted something to provide structure for a practice I have struggled to build on my own. It’s 27 days later, and I have only missed 2 days. To me, that’s my answer – it works for me. It makes me excited to move forward, and it takes much of the chore out of the process. I could easily see someone else having a less productive experience, but on a personal level, it does its job and more.
My conclusion would be to try the 10 day trial and feel it out – you have nothing to lose. I’ve done a few free meditation guides online, but never an app based service, and none got me into the regularity of this one. I’d be interested to see how competitors stack up, and how their approaches differ from Headspace. Do your research, see what else is out there, and see if it’s something that will work for you. From my limited experience, a regular meditation practice is more than worth the time it takes to research resources, and certainly worth a few buck per month if it’s effective. If you’ve found any solid alternatives to Headspace, leave them in the comments below!