I got into meditation because of some guy I met online.
Actually, via TED.
And, truthfully, I’ve never met the man but I was interested enough in his TED Talk to look at his website and that’s when he hooked me.
Headspace became my go-to for daily guided meditation last summer just as I was about to return to work from medical leave. Virtually every morning since I have started my day with Headspace-founder Andy Puddicombe and his everyman’s version of mindfulness.
I am a huge fan. I’m pretty sure I can take credit for hooking a half dozen other people as well. I’m not much of a product promoter, but I really think Puddicombe and his Headspace colleagues are onto something and I think it’s worth letting others know about it.
Here’s what I love:
The Vision: Simple, really: make mindfulness accessible. No woowoo. Just some guidance on “treating your head right,” available to anyone who wants it.
Better still: make mindfulness widely accessible – take it into the workplace, into daily lives, online, on the go, in bite-sized bits that go down easy.
Make mindfulness widely accessible and infinitely cool. Brilliant.
The Strategy: More simplicity: high design, strong brand, no barrier to entry, an easy app. Start with a few entertaining online videos. Try just ten minutes. Who can’t do ten minutes? Feels good, right? Come back tomorrow.
He lures you in, gives you free samples, brings you back, gets you hooked. He lets you know all the other kids are doing it too. (Each time you meditate, a display shows how many others are online meditating with you. Another display shows your “run” – how many days straight you’ve been part of the crowd, how much you have strengthened your mind.) Every few days, he shows up in a quickie video clip to offer encouragement and affirmation. He makes you feel good.
The Backstory: You almost have to love a Brit who faced an awful personal tragedy, lost his bearings then found them and himself by heading to a Tibetan monastery, emerged ten years later by way of Russia and finally landed in L.A., where he now surfs and maybe does something connected to circus acrobatics. And he has an adorable baby named Harley.
The Name: To my ears, “Andy Puddicombe” is right out of Harry Potter, which pretty much makes him magical right there. Professor Puddicombe, Master of Mindfulness, purveyor of inner wisdom wizardry and meditation incantations. I can just picture him at Hogwarts. I mean, the man used to wear robes.
The Voice: This may have been the killer app for me. I’d always found those ultra mellow, ultra sweet, ultra cloying voices of most meditation tapes pure hell. I could not sit still and listen to them. They were a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to my meditation efforts.
Enter Andy, a guy with a working class English accent that is so disarming, so not what I’d come to expect in this context, that the whole enterprise took on an entirely different and very fresh flavor. This is a guy to have a beer with. You think if he can do this, so can I.
I call him “my bloke from Bristol.” I confess: I’m crushing hard.
The Impact: But all the other stuff aside, what really matters is that I feel different — I feel better. Andy Puddicombe has shown me a viable path to greater mindfulness. Along the way, he has offered me support, encouragement and companionship. I feel greater clarity and calm. I’m more centered. I have tools and strategies to regain my equilibrium when things knock me sideways.
When I first started this journey about 10 months ago, the little counter that showed how many others were meditating at the same time generally registered about 2,000. This morning, it was well over 6,500. Clearly I’m not alone in my appreciation and infatuation.
Maybe what I love most about Andy Puddicombe is that he’s helping so many of us be ever-so-much-more-so the people we want to be. My kind of guy. Thanks, Andy!