We talk to the Founder of the meditation app Headspace, Andy Puddicombe about the power of the mind, setting up a business and meditation
Headspace has become such a successful app and a great way for everyone to introduce a bit of meditation into their lives, what motivated you to start it?
I wanted to demystify meditation, to make it accessible, relevant and beneficial for as many people as possible. Along with the help of my partner Rich Pierson, we were able to create Headspace, which has enabled us to share the useful tools that meditation equips you with and really make an impact on peoples lives.
What do you feel are the main benefits of meditation?
Meditation is simple to incorporate into your everyday existence but substantial enough to change your experience of life. The benefits are physical, emotional and mental. If you want more peace of mind, better sleep, to be more productive at work, to feel happier or to have better relationships with others meditation can help. Scientific interest in mindfulness has exploded recently, with the number of academic publications published on the topic increasing by nearly 300%. This research has shown that the brain can change in response to experiences and training such as meditation, further illustrating the benefits.
When did you start meditating? And why did you start?
My mother introduced me to meditation when I was 11 years old and its quite funny in retrospect. When I was in university I was going out with a girl who read a lot of books about Buddhism. To be really honest, I wasn’t listening too intently. But some of it must have gone in because one day I just turned around and said, ‘You know what? That stuff you’ve been talking about? That’s a brilliant idea. I’m going to go away and be a monk’. I wanted to better understand how to stop the endless chatter inside my mind.
Do you believe that you can do anything you set your mind to?
Yes, and I think that people are capable than far more than they realise and are just yet to tap into their capacity. A research study into meditation proposes that the change in brain function that occurs due to meditation represents the development of an ‘approach state’; this is characterized by a moving towards, rather than away from challenging external situations or internal experience. This can therefore help people combat the challenges that lie in front of them head on.
Like you, a lot of our readers have started their own business or are hoping to, what were the initial challenges when you embarked on setting up Headspace? How did you overcome them?
We had to overcome 2000 years of bad PR to change the perception that meditation was all about chanting and sitting in a lotus position. We introduced animations that were user-friendly to help teach people how meditation can be relevant and beneficial in day-to-day life.
What do you love about running Headspace?
I love that we now have just under 1,000,000 active users. It’s great to know that it is having an impact on so many people. We get wonderful emails and letters from our users too – they are the reason we all get up in the morning and go to work.
When did you know you were onto a winning idea?
We initially started informing people about meditation through events, but we soon realized this was not the most effective way to reach people. There was such a wide audience and we wanted to be able to share the concept with everyone. That’s how the idea of developing the app came around. As it grew we started to realise the true impact and reach Headspace could have.
Does meditation help you in the running of your business?
Yes. By practicing mindfulness I am able to tackle the everyday stress that comes from any job. In not letting things overwhelm me I am able to better manage the demands of work and therefore help reduce my level of stress.
How has meditation helped you in other areas of your life?
Meditation is inseparable from every aspect of my life. Meditation is a way to familiarise oneself with the qualities of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the intention to be present in the here and now, to be fully engaged with whatever is happening, free from distraction or judgement, and with a soft and open mind. This translates into all areas of my life, be it focus at work or my personal relationships. They are all impacted.
When do you think is the best time to meditate during the day?
The best way to meditate it to make it part of your routine, if you find it easiest to meditate in the morning before breakfast, try to stick to that. It is whatever feels right for you. It is better to do several shorter sessions rather than attempting one long marathon session. What is great about the app is that you can take your meditation anywhere so if you have a particularly busy schedule you can squeeze it in as a mid morning break at work or even on the bus on the way home.
Do you workout?
Yes, I particularly love surfing and do it as often as I can.
What is your day on a plate like?
Being in LA I drink a lot of fresh pressed juices and have as much fresh food and veg in my diet as possible
Where is the best place you have ever meditated?
There are lots of places but I was recently on my honeymoon in Hawaii and meditated at sunrise. That was pretty special
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
I meditate and surf. It can be tempting to wake up and jump straight onto your email, especiallygiven that we have an office in the UK 8 hours ahead. However, I think it’s important to resist and get the day off to a good start.
What is your favourite food?
Currently any kind of juice (and chocolate, I have a serious weakness for expensive chocolate!)
Who / what inspires you?
My wife Lucinda, she is a fitness instructor.
Download the Headspace App here: www.headspace.com