The App that Saved my Life

        Ok, so, confession time. I used to think that meditation was just a tad too new agey to be taken seriously. I had only ever stumbled upon recordings with random gong sounds, chimes and chirping birds, and occasionally the voice of a very, very old woman walking me through excruciatingly long breathing exercises. At the time in my life when I first looked into meditation, I was extremely anxious. The type of jittery that makes reading one page of a book difficult, let alone sitting still and simply *breathing* for 10 minutes. Who has time to *breathe* in this mad, mad world?!

         In the last few years, my anxiety became worse, and was coupled with bouts of week long insomnia and depression (fun, right?) I refused sleeping pills and antidepressants, determined to find a healthy, non chemical and holistic option that got to the root of the problem. It was at that time that a dear friend introduced me to the app Headspace.

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         Now, before I tell you about my Headspace journey, let me assure you that they are not paying me…. It’s just that I like the app enough to write a generous endorsement of it, in the hopes that it might help you.

         Let’s start with the design. The app logo is a simple and imperfect orange dot on a white background. The shade of orange is joyful and quirky, whereas the imperfection of the dot makes the app feel subtly and instantly accessible to all of us imperfect humans (at least to this one). The dot, with its imperfect edges, seems to almost appear to be moving, or better yet, breathing.

          Headspace ushers you in with colourful doodles of peaceful and fun creatures. It’s almost like a children’s book, for stressed out adults. You are welcomed into some intro videos and a beginner pack of 10 meditations. The meditations are led by the creator, Andi Puddicombe, who I swear sounds like a much more relaxed John Oliver. (And trust me, it cracks me up every time I listen and picture myself being led in meditation by a sharp tongued, sarcastic English political comedian). Everything about the app is accessible, from the cutesy doodles, to the simple instructions, quirky videos, and even the minimalist layout. Long gone are the days of feeling like you should be wearing elephant pants and sitting on a rock in the middle of the ocean, to do meditation. This app is the epitome of *meditation for the masses*. In a good way.

          After ten sessions, I was sold, so I bought the year long subscription as a Christmas present to myself, which cost me $7.99 a month. The whole package opened up a bunch of new meditation options, falling under categories like “Foundation”, “Health”, “Brave” and “Happiness”. My favourite so far has been the “Anxiety” package, but I am looking forward to delving into the others. I love the irony of buying myself a Christmas present that is literally the antithesis of materialism, and all about cultivating a healthy and happy inner life.

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         Guys, I have been doing Headspace on and off for 5 months now, and I am, well and truly, a changed woman. And I don’t even do it daily, like I’m supposed to. Shhh, don’t tell Andi! My favourite part of the app is the introductory videos to each package that teach different skills and ways of viewing meditation as a whole. One thing that has truly stuck with me is the concept of the mind, in its most ideal form, as a blue sky. Thoughts and feelings, then, are clouds passing by, and anxious or depressive thoughts and feelings are storm clouds, specifically.

          The app suggests that if you do the meditations frequently, you will be able to bring a calmer head space into your daily life. That you will essentially, over time, be able to step back and observe negative thought patterns, just as if they were storm clouds, rather than being embroiled in the eye of the storm itself. So far, I can attest that this is true. I am about 40% calmer at all times, thanks to this app. At times when I feel negative or anxious thoughts creeping in, I am able to identify them, the way I would identify some other hazard to my well being. Once I have identified them, I am now able to kindly, and ever so politely, show them the door.

         That’s right, I’ve been telling my anxious and depressive thoughts to get out of dodge for the last few months, and it’s actually working. They slink off, and when they come back, they are far less scary than before, because they know who’s boss, and I do too. And I’ve got a super doodly, cute, highly accessible and un- new-agey app to thank for that. Thanks Headspace. You’ve changed my head! And my space!