Headspace (guided meditation platform)
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|Genre||Meditation and mindfulness|
|Founded||May 2010London, England, United Kingdomin|
|Headquarters||2415 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica, California, United States|
Number of locations
Rich Pierson (CEO)
Ross Hoffman (CBO)
|Services||Guided meditation and mindfulness through online platform|
Number of employees
Headspace is an English-American online healthcare company, specializing in meditation. It was incorporated in May 2010 in London, England by writer, public speaker and health advocate Andy Puddicombe and entrepreneur Richard Pierson. It is headquartered in Santa Monica, California with offices in San Francisco and London.
The company mainly operates through its online platform, which provides sessions of guided meditation to its registered users with the goal of mindfulness. Overall content is offered through a freemium subscription service model, in which users will thereafter access the company's entire library of content.
Puddicombe cut short his university studies in Sports Science at the age of 22, and travelled to Asia to become a Buddhist monk. Over the course of ten years, his meditation training took him to Nepal, India, Burma, Thailand, Australia and Russia. He was fully ordained at a Tibetan Monastery in the Himalayas. In 2004 he returned to the UK on a mission "to make meditation accessible, relevant and beneficial to as many people as possible". It was whilst running a meditation clinic in London that he met his future business partner, Rich Pierson. “We both thought, how could we present meditation in a way that our friends would genuinely give it a try? Rich had all these creative skills, and I had the experience as a monk. I think that was the light bulb moment with Headspace, the coming together of those two backgrounds”.
Headspace began as an events company, holding mindfulness talks in and around London. Demand from attendees for a way to share these techniques led to Puddicombe and Pierson looking into developing a mobile app, with the first version of the Headspace app launching in 2012. Headspace now employs over 100 staff, working between the company HQ in Los Angeles and offices in San Francisco and London, UK.
In June 2017, Headspace hired Ross Hoffman as Chief Business Officer.
Headspace provides guided meditation resources online; accessible to users through the company’s website and via a mobile app on the iPhone and Android platforms. Users can access ten days of free content, after which they have the option to take out a monthly or annual subscription or continue with the free trial material.
The techniques taught through the programme combine elements of both calming and insight meditation.
In June 2014, Headspace launched version 2 of its platform. In the 6 months after release the company signed up twice as many users as it did in the previous two and a half years, and served them 125 million minutes of meditation practice. Content in version 2 of the app is clustered into four areas once users have completed the Foundation stage - health, performance, relationships and Headspace Pro. The app's interface shows different levels of meditation and employs gamification. Users are asked to complete and master a level of meditation before they can move on to the more advanced section. Each session is about ten minutes long, usually in audio format.
The Headspace app is set up in series, in which users complete one session (one meditation) every day for ten days. Currently there are six series for users to complete: Foundation, Sport, Health, Relationships, Performance, and Headspace Pro. Each series after the introductory series has different categories and meditation tasks for you to complete. Users are not able to preview other categories’ sessions until they have “unlocked them” by completing the sessions up to that point. Additionally, the app offers “one-off” meditation sessions called “Singles” for users to do on-the-go when they don’t have time to complete a full sessions. Some of the “Single” sessions include: SOS, Sleeping, Sport On-The-Go, Fear of Flying, Commuting, Walking, Running, etc. Additionally, the app features a subsection of meditation specifically for kids. These are short meditations that are applicable to toddlers to preteens. These sessions range from one to five minutes.
Headspace's business model is built mainly on subscriptions: $12.99/month when billed monthly or $7.92/month when billed yearly. Alternatively, a lifetime license can be bought for a one-time fee of $399.99.
Headspace has been used in a number of clinical trials investigating the effects of mindfulness training. In one such study, researchers from UCL, funded by the British Heart Foundation, examined the impact of mindfulness on workplace stress in two major multi-national corporations, using the Headspace app as the intervention. The study found a significant increase in wellbeing, reductions in anxiety and depressive symptoms, significant reductions in diastolic blood pressures, significant increases in perceived job control, as well as a significant reduction in sleeping problems. It also helps in significantly reducing stress in the mind and the body.
- Get Some Headspace (2011), comprises an in-depth introduction to the Headspace techniques, interwoven with Puddicombe’s personal experience. It lays out the science behind mindfulness and its physical and mental health benefits, from productivity and focus to stress and anxiety relief.
- The Headspace Diet (2013) teaches readers how to use mindfulness rather than fad diets to reach their ideal personal weight. Described as ‘the anti-diet book’, it focuses on teaching readers about creating a healthy relationship with food.
- The Headspace Guide to... a Mindful Pregnancy (2015) sets out to teach couples how to calmly navigate the anxieties and demands of pregnancy.
Headspace has been featured on both UK and US television, appearing on The Today Show, BBC Breakfast News, ABC News and Dr. Oz. It was also featured on the BBC Two science documentary “Horizon”, which tested the efficacy of mindfulness using the Headspace app over an 8-week period. In laboratory experiments, the presenter, Dr. Michael Mosley, was found to have significantly reduced negative outlook. He also reported overcoming a decade-long battle with insomnia. Founder Andy Puddicombe has been a guest on BBC Radio 2 and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The product has also been mentioned on NPR and in publications such as Martha Stewart in the US.
In November 2012, Headspace founder Andy Puddicombe gave a TED Talk, entitled ‘All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes’, outlining the benefits of taking time out each day to practise mindfulness. To date it has accrued over 9 million views, and was one of the very first TED Talks to be featured on Netflix.
Bespoke content is available to travellers on all Virgin Atlantic flights through a dedicated Headspace channel in the in-flight entertainment system. Headspace also provides bespoke content for business and leisure travellers in all Westin hotel rooms. The global partnership, in association with the Starwood Group, launched in March 2014, and is a component of the Westin Wellbeing Movement. At the beginning of 2013, Headspace ran a ‘No Noise’ partnership with UK department store Selfridges. This included the creation of a silent meditation room and Headspace pods being placed around the store to enable shoppers to get some Headspace.
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