Headspace has been recommended to me a handful of times as a way of managing stress and cultivating mindfulness. So, this morning I decided to test it out. Andy, the app’s narrator, guided me through a free (yay!) introductory meditation, and I have a lot to say about it so listen up!

The Overview

Headspace aims to introduce meditation and mindfulness into our everyday lives with simple guided videos. As Andy puts it, it’s like a “gym membership for the mind.” Everyone starts with the Take 10 program, which introduces the basics of mindfulness and meditation practice through a series of 10 sessions.

After that, you’re invited to subscribe and gain access to a collection of guided and unguided sessions ranging from two minutes to an hour. Upon subscribing, different categories become available to you in the form of special series collections, where the focus of your meditation can range from relationships to professional performance.

Before even beginning the Take 10 program, you’re provided with an introduction animation that sets you up with the basic necessities of meditation. Andy recommends finding a spot where you’ll be undisturbed for 10 minutes (or the duration of the program you choose). It’s also easier to create a habit when it’s repeated at the same time and location every day. Practicing in the morning is recommended as a great way to start the day, and promoting a feeling of being a part of life’s bigger picture or plan. Finally, sit comfortably either on the floor or in a chair, upright, with your hands resting in your lap or on your legs, and you’re ready to go.

The Take-Away

This program isn’t about stopping thoughts or eliminating feelings. It’s about training the mind to change the relationship with those passing thoughts and feelings in order to view them with more perspective and naturally find a place of calm. Think about it as taking yourself out of your mind and body, and just watching everything go by. It sounds stressful at first, but in practice, it’s like watching your own internal process in slow-motion and on mute.

The Less Than Fabulous

The physical design of the app is a bit busy for my taste. Luckily, the important aspects jump out at you, and you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for with minimal fumbling.

The Final Verdict

As someone who’s in a perpetual state of stress, I’d recommend giving this app a whirl. I found the directions to be non-intrusive, but informative. There’s incentive to continue the program—users are rewarded for meditating multiple days in a row. And the information syncs with the Health app on iPhones in a section called “Mindful Minutes.” Headspace also asked to sync with the daily calendar on my iPhone at the end of my first session in order to set up reminders or meditation “appointments” at the same time every day.

When you need a little nudge in the right direction of stress reduction and management, this app should definitely be considered a go-to.