Asking for thoughts on Headspace

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Daniel M. Ingram, modified 1 Year ago.

Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 3183 Join Date: 4/20/09 Recent Posts
Anyone here use Headspace, and, if so, what do you think of it?

In particular, does it have much support for the deeper end of the pool, insight stages, weird effects, or anything like that built into it or addressed somewhere?

Same question for Calm and Insight Timer, actually, so feel free to give any and all opinions if you have used these.

Thanks!

Daniel
Martin, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 294 Join Date: 4/25/20 Recent Posts
I have used Insight Timer since the beginning of time. It works well to time sits with interval bells. A clear step up from a wind-up kitchen timer. I don't use the guided meditations. It seems they are largely fluff but there are proably some good ones if you poke around. 
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Griffin, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 145 Join Date: 4/7/18 Recent Posts
Headspace was my first introduction to meditation. It has all the usual, popular guided meditations: breath concentration, body scan, relaxation etc. Standard instructions like: follow your breath, note the distraction, return to the breath etc. There's no any "deeper end of the poll" stuff. Unless they added something like that after I stopped using it, but I doubt it. However, it's a good app for beginners.

Insight timer: any meditation teacher can make a profile there and post their guided meditations. You can find anything and everything there, even some pragmatic dharma teachers (Vince Horn, Shinzen Young...).
But most of the teachers there are posting popular things like "sleep music", "deep breathing", "positive affirmations" etc.
Insight timer has nice social aspects: "adding friends", sending messages, milestones, joining groups etc. It's actually a social network, not just a meditation app.
There are also thousands of lectures available there, including many from buddhist monks.
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Lewis James, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 155 Join Date: 5/13/15 Recent Posts
Similar experience to Griffin - Headspace was my first exposure to meditation training beyond just experimenting by myself. It's basic stuff all the way through, but the first time I hit namarupa was through that basic technique, though obviously I didn't know it at the time as the app doesn't go into that stuff at all. But just having that distinct experience of "oh, here's the body, here's the mind, here's the senses, here's the awareness" was something I'd never experienced before until that point. That progressed into the A&P. So I think there's something in the technique that still has a core of vipassana if you look at it a certain way, or have a certain inclination - but there seem to be plenty of people who use Headspace who wouldn't know what you were talking about with the above. And there's certainly no guidance on maps, theory or any warnings about challenging material.

It then took a bunch of stumbling to come across Daniel's work, and Shinzen, and get more of an idea of what was going on.

I have used Insight Timer, but yeah, mainly for the timer and not for the guided stuff. It's a bit of a bazaar, there's way too much choice. My partner uses it and will ask me to find a "good" one because it's impossible not to end up in new age lala-land if you don't know what you're looking for.
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 1150 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Daniel M. Ingram:
Anyone here use Headspace, and, if so, what do you think of it?

In particular, does it have much support for the deeper end of the pool, insight stages, weird effects, or anything like that built into it or addressed somewhere?

Same question for Calm and Insight Timer, actually, so feel free to give any and all opinions if you have used these.

Thanks!

Daniel
Daniel,

AS when we talked, I have to put you in contact with Sam Harris, the creator of Waking Up, the only one of these kind of apps that's created by an experienced deep-pool meditator for serious meditators. so that he can interview you for the app.

The app has a  Conversations section with dialogues with people like Loch Kelly,  Brewer. Under Practice, it has 5 0 meditation lessons, that even at that level, include deeper topics like looking for the self, etc. Then there is a set of deep meditations going 30, 45 and 60 minutes with prompts tor deeper subjects. The meditations periodically prompt you with depper queries like "As you gaze into space, very gently and briefly, look for what's looking. Look for the center of consciousness. Is there something to find? Can you find your head? Or is this just this open field in which all visual perceptions are appearing?"

There is also a Theory session with lessons. There is a Daily Meditation. Unlike the other apps, which I have used, these are all Vipassana meditations not the fluffy, New Age mindfulness (not meditations) you find on the oher listed apps.

The downside is that it's $99 a year but IMHO, well worth it.

I'll write up your friend Dan Harris Ten Percent Happier app when I get a chance.
Sam Gentile, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 1150 Join Date: 5/4/20 Recent Posts
Ten Percent Happier's app's largest claim to fame is that it was created by Dan Harris, creator of the the book and is backed by well-known IMS founders Joseph Goldstein and Sharon Salzberg. It too is totally Vipassana based. 

It is built around this concept of courses, many which feature Goldstein, salzberg and a host of IMS teachers.There  the concept of Singles, 5-20 minute guided meditations  with topics like stress, happiness. And thats what really separates it from Waking Up. The meditations are more geared towards stress reduction, going to sleep, etc. There are no "deep" features. Even under the "Advanced Section" the meditatins are still 5-15 minute meditations on the subjects I have already listed. 

IMHO, its light on dharma and deep features which is why I got Waking Up.
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Jim Smith, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 972 Join Date: 1/17/15 Recent Posts
I am skeptical when companies make wild claims about products they charge money for - like all the wonderful things headspace can do to improve your life.

They claim their products are based on science.
https://www.headspace.com/science


Their page on scientific research articles is here:
https://www.headspace.com/science/meditation-research

If you scroll to the bottom there is a list of all the wonderful things headspace can do for you and if you click on a link there are more claims and links etc.

But they don't really connect the research to each product they are selling with links for each claim to the scientific research supporting it (I haven't signed up so I don't know if it's different once you are enrolled) and without that you can't really tell if you are buying something that is supported by science. My experience working at for profit corporations makes me skeptical that their claims for their products are really supported by specific research that would convince a scientist the products do what they say.

And you don't know what the statistical benefit actually is. 

And what is the benefit for actual users? Does the typical user use the product long enough to receive the benefit? What is the dropout rate?

Basically, you can't easily tell if all those claims are a scam, and in all probability, if they are not providing that kind of information they probably don't have it. So how can they say their claims are based on science?

In my opinion they are preying on people who have a problem, promising to help them, offering hope, using psychology to get them to spend money. But does it really offer the help they promise?

I would like to see the data laid out to make a clear case that the products help their customers. Where is it?

Companies use science (psychology) to influence people to spend money, that is the one claim I believe 100%. That is enough for me not to recommend apps that want you to listen to audio programs where they have a chance to hypnotize you when you are most vulnerable. (Many apps use repetitive music to put you in a trance like state, but with meditation apps the users willingly enter meditative states. If headspace was honest they would say, "use our app, we'll try to hypnotize you into being happy and we'll try to make you dependent on us so sign up right now for only $$$, butt-weight, sign up now and we'll give you a free trial.. )

I don't know the specific details of the meditation apps, but common tricks used in other apps are to give you a psychological reward for maintaing daily usage, sending notifications, positive encouraging messages, repetitive music, hiding the clock so you can't tell how long you are using the app, etc. 

You might think this is good because it helps you devleop a consistent meditaiton practice, but they are doing it to make you dependent on them so they can take your money. 

Here is more information on how tech companies use psychology to get people to use their apps compulsively, how the exectives in those companies don't let their own kids use the apps, and how they have blood on their hands:

https://higginswar.blogspot.com/2017/10/technology-companies-harmful-influence.html

And the "free" apps are not free if they show ads or collect personal information like an e-mail address. Your attention paid to ads has value, your personal information also has value. Shinzen Young's app, brightmind, is free to download but it is not "free" to use, you don't have to pay money but you do have to give them your email address and create an account.

A good rule of thumb is if you think an app or web service is free, your're not the customer, you're the product.
Like when you post to a free discussion forum only to find out later your posts are being used for a research project. (One thing I have to compliment this forum for is that there are no alert notifications - those are a primary method of inducing compulsive use.)
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John W, modified 12 Months ago.

RE: Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 408 Join Date: 2/11/20 Recent Posts
Jim Smith:
I am skeptical when companies make wild claims about products they charge money for - like all the wonderful things headspace can do to improve your life.

Wow man, you are seriously anti-app ;)

I use the Timeless app, mostly just to keep track of how much time I am spending in meditation per day... it offers a nice layout which will show you progress over time, similar to the Apple 'Health' app.

I do pay monthly even though I hardly ever use their guided meditations (the timer you would get for free), there are some pretty good ones including some body scans labeled Vipassana as well as Ujjayi breathing, Yoga Nidra and others.  From what I've seen, it is more in-depth than Headspace but the longest guided one is around 20 mins -- so, intermediate level perhaps.

Personally I don't mind paying fees for these apps if it seems like they are well-intentioned. Apps can be a gateway to starting meditation for many people. 
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Zachary, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Asking for thoughts on Headspace

Posts: 199 Join Date: 3/16/18 Recent Posts
Have used Insight Timer for the past couple years, almost entirely for time-keeping purposes. Haven't waded much into the audio section, and what I did see there didn't seem particularly useful as far as deeper stuff, insight stages, etc. That being said, it does have a wide array of fabulous bell sounds. 

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