Why I bid farewell to Headspace and other apps

I can’t remember winning many awards in life, though hopefully I still have time.

During sports day at primary school I won the three-legged race two years in a row, tied to the same girl.

At Sunday school I won numerous bibles for attendance. One bible would have been enough since each contained identical stories.

At high school I won a bronze weight lifting badge. Enough said.

As an adult I returned to winning form. I was awarded badges for meditating with the Headspace app. But winning badges for meditating a number of days in succession became a discouragement. I couldn't reach day 15 and as a result, felt a failure.

I love meditation, but I can't do it every day ad infinitum. Tiredness is the enemy of my practice and maybe more sleep will help.

Headspace is an excellent meditation app, but if you miss a day, your streak returns to zero. Life does get in the way from time to time.

Missing my meditation was as stressful as trying to do it every day.


The Daily Habit Becomes a Chore

One recommendation to help form the habit is to meditate in the morning when you are alert, full of energy and zest.

I wonder, are people who meditate in the morning:

- single?

- living in an apartment above work?

- in bed by 9pm?

I need an hour to get ready for work and an hour to commute so morning meditation is a non-starter.

The evening has drawbacks too. Dinner, conversation with my wife, a writing stint followed by endowing my cats with love and food.

But without meditation, I can feel tense or worrisome. Headspace’s Andy Puddicombe has transformed meditation and helped make it accessible to everyone. Andy has deserved success and became my meditation companion, but through no fault of Andy, meditation became... dare I say it, boring.

Meditation apps help beginners but the repetition can distract from the experience.

But it is the cost of subscriptions that caused the demise of my reliance on meditation apps.

You shouldn’t need to pay for meditation, especially at the sample costs below.

App Annual Subscription
Headspace £75 / $95
10% Happier £93 / $80
Timeless £84 / $72
Calm £64 / $70

A subscription for a year to learn the practice has merit, but avoid paying the high rates over the long term.

I am not against paying for a product and giving support to developers, but not at any price.

I was with Headspace from their early days but like many similar apps, investors need satisfied.

If you’re finding meditation a struggle, day in and day out, you can vary it.

You could go without technology and meditate in silence. Learn from a book.

You can bring meditation into every day activities.


How to be Comfortable with Meditation

There is no need to cross your legs in lotus position or stress about earning a badge. Be yourself, sit or stand but relax.

With Sound — Listen to meditative music or tonal beats, with or without narration.

With Silence — Appreciate the beauty in silence. The creaks of the house, wind blowing against the window or cars driving by. Be attentive to what’s around you.

With Movement — Feel the ground beneath your feet and the unevenness of the path. Listen to the surrounding environment. When I go running at night for example, I feel the night air on my face and bask in the moonlight.

With Meals — Savour the flavours and textures of food. Have you wondered why some meals vanish without you noticing? We can eat on autopilot.

Meditation needs no logs or progress bars, and you don’t need to meditate the same time every day. You don't even need to do it every day.

Skip days without regret and avoid setting targets. But do meditate. Your mind will thank you.


Some recommendations

To learn how to meditate I recommend Headspace.com - perfect to use, look at and listen to. Then after a year, go it alone. If you still prefer to log your progress, check out the apps below.

Center Meditation Timer

Developed by Tanner Christensen, the app has no voice over guide, no background music or ambient sounds. Although free, Tanner continues to update the app. You can read more about the app with this link.

Meditate (Watch)

Developed by RhythmicWorks, the Apple Watch app provides everything you need to set goals, track and develop your practice. Similar to Center in many ways but with a small up front cost of £/$5. For Apple Watch users only. Find out more here.

All the apps mentioned link to Apple Health.


Happy to discuss