Back when Baby B was a tiny thing, there were a lot of late nights into early mornings. I say “back when” but that’s sort of become the norm again, because we are going through some kind of sleep regression. In any case, back when she was little, I was so frustrated at the lack of sleep, and how she wouldn’t sleep anywhere except in my arms for the first month-plus. I was trying desperately to find things to keep myself awake and engaged while holding her in those nights – I read a lot of “long reads” type articles online that I wouldn’t have had time for otherwise. I found new quiet mobile games. I spent a lot of time scrolling through facebook.
But during those times when I was awake for the day but B was asleep for a small stretch of time, I was still trapped and needed to stay quiet. And I came across something – I don’t remember if it was an article, or an add, or a list of apps – but it talked about how popular meditation apps were becoming, and reading that I just thought, “Yes. This is what I need in my life”. I had all these early mornings when I could devote 5-10 minutes to meditation, and just prepare and center myself for the day ahead.
That…sort of worked. I think I got through the set of 10 free introductory sessions, decided I liked it, purchased a one year subscription, and then things normalized with B’s sleep, and I no longer had the early mornings to devote to meditation. Fortunately, in the lead-up to coming back to work from maternity leave, I read another article which said that meditation can help with pumping. And since I was worried about milk volume for baby girl, I was determined to start my meditation practice again once I was back to work and pumping.
And I can honestly say that I think it helps. I try to use my first pumping session of the day as the one which I devote to meditation, because I think it helps set me up for a less stressful day. I plug in to the noisy machine which removes the milk from my breasts, and then put my earbuds in and try to let the whoosh-whoosh of the pump roll around me. I’ve been a bit of a failure at meditating every single day. But it helps to have an app that gives you gentle reminders like Headspace does.
So what is Headspace, and why did I choose it? First off, it was one of the best rated meditation apps on Apple, so that was appealing. Second, it had a 10-session free trial so I could figure out if this whole meditation thing was going to work for me. Finally, it was easy to use, and didn’t have too many bells and whistles.
I completed all the “Basics” packs, and after that I feel like I have a good handle on basic meditation techniques, and especially on the fact that my mind will wander very easily, and I have a tendency to not even realize it. The guided meditations (which are led by Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe and his delightful British accent) help you focus on the breath and on acknowledging the ways in which our mind wanders when we find ourselves distracted, while gently leading you back to focus on the breath. Since finishing the basics packs, I have tried a few other meditations from Headspace, and there are LOTS.
There are packs of anywhere from 10-30 sessions which are devoted to different health issues (including anxiety, stress, sleep, pregnancy, and more), a category called “Brave” which seems to be devoted to handling hard feelings (I just completed the “Restless” pack that’s in this section. There are sections with packs for happiness, work & performance, students, sports, and one that I am just now noticing that is labelled “Headspace Pro”, and appears to be a transition into silent meditation (or meditation without a guide).
But even better than these packs are the “Singles” and “Minis” sections which offer either very specific, or very short meditations that allow you to find ways to meditate in all situations and find the benefit in all moods. There are meditations for running and walking, for when you’re feeling really terrible, for morning times, nighttimes, when it’s time to unwind, and more. There is even a section of short meditations for kids to help them find their focus at different times. A feature I hadn’t used before but think I will start to use more regularly is the “Everyday Headspace” which includes a new meditation every day. The theme is constantly changing, and if you miss one, it’s gone forever.
Headspace may not be the right meditation app for everyone. It does have a subscription cost, and that can seem daunting at nearly $100 a year. But I got mine when it was on sale, and there’s currently a 40% discount on yearly subscriptions so that it costs $58 for the year. Since I started using Headspace in March (I bought my subscription in April), I’ve done 45 sessions totaling more than 6 hours, which isn’t a lot in the scheme of things, but potentially extrapolates out to around 100 sessions over the course of the year. And even if I paid the full price for my subscription, that’s about $1 per session to feel calmer, more aware, less stressed. And yes – for more milk too.
Does anyone else use a meditation app? Have you tried Headspace? Want to be “buddies”, which is their way of connecting to other friends who use the app?