MEET THE DEVELOPER
Give your mind the attention it deserves
Discover how Headspace put a modern spin on buddhist traditions.
Headspace: Meditation & Sleep
Stress relief: breathe, focus
Meditation comes with a number of preconceptions. Beyond sitting cross-legged and chanting soothing tones, it was the ever-present waterfalls that finally pushed Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson into breaking down these stereotypes.
With their app Headspace they’ve helped to take meditation to the masses. And all while staying true to Puddicombe’s roots as a Buddhist monk.
“I’d received so much benefit from learning these skills that I felt a responsibility to make them more available and demystify meditation a little bit,” Puddicombe tells us.
Returning to the UK after 10 years within the Tibetan monastery, it wasn’t until a chance encounter with Pierson in 2010 that those hopes started to take shape.
“Rich had way more foresight than I did,” Puddicombe explains. “In our very first meeting, before we’d done any work together, he said that this should be the Nike+ of meditation, and I had no idea what he was talking about.”
“I really didn’t know what an app was. Apps had only really come out a couple of years before and I was still finding my way around technology having missed a lot with being away.”
With Puddicombe having already worked on ways to break his decade of learning down into more digestible, accessible chunks, he and Pierson were keen to adapt the benefits of meditation to the modern user rather than fall into the all too familiar traps that surrounded the practice.
Their first step? Get rid of the waterfalls.
“We had this wall in my flat and we put up all of the images we could find that were everything to do with meditation and mindfulness. It was just waterfalls and pictures of gurus,” Pierson explains. “On the right we just had a big blank canvas which was exciting.”
Brimmed with Puddicombe’s learnings – and personally delivered meditations – Headspace is an app that will teach you to breathe, focus and relax. It will help you clear your mind and find clarity and purpose in your thoughts and actions.
Most importantly, though, it will do it in a way that suits you. A way that fits with your needs. A way that works in the modern world.
“Meditation is universal and it’s timeless; it’s just in the way it’s presented,” Puddicombe explains. “My biggest responsibility was to ensure that the techniques stayed authentic and true.”
“It’s always been relevant and it has continued to evolve as it’s moved into new places and new times. I see this as another evolution and another step forward. Now it is seen more as simply learning a skill. In the same way that we would look after our physical health, why wouldn’t we look after our mental health as well?”
“When we started doing this, I went to see one of my teachers. A Tibetan Lama.” adds Puddicombe. “He didn’t know what I was talking about when I said ‘we’re going to do an app’. He looked at me nervously going ‘what is this, how is this going to work?’.”
“Now when we speak he’s delighted. He can’t believe it’s reached so many tens of millions of people.”
“It’s reassuring knowing that my teachers are comfortable with how meditation is being presented. One of them travels around the world to do retreats and he’ll joke that whenever he turns up at another place they’re all talking about Headspace.”