On Saturday I attended a Headspace one-day event as a guest of the founders, Andy Puddicombe and Richard Pierson. Around 200 of us trooped into Jerwood Hall, home of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Their mission is to get as many people as possible “to take 10 minutes out of their day to sit in the here and now”. I’m all in favour. If everyone did so, the world would be a much happier, healthier and more peaceful place.
Mindfulness meditation is thousands of years old. However, it’s only now spreading rapidly in the West, and may one day be as popular as yoga.
You can learn basic mindfulness meditation for free, at places such as Friends of the Western Buddhist Order. In the UK, some people get their introduction to mindfulness on the National Health Service. (The National Institute for Clinical Excellence approved the use of mindfulness in 2006.)
However, Headspace steer a middle course between religion on the one hand and medicine on the other. In terms of the archetypes that David Royston-Lee and I discussed in Brand You, Headspace strongly evoke the Ordinary Guy or Girl. Their aim is to reach a global market.
Their marketing is very, very good. Richard worked in advertising before leaving to find the meaning of life and discovering meditation. Andy abandoned a degree in sports science to spend 10 years as a Buddhist monk. One consequence is that he can juggle orange balls while explaining how thoughts appear randomly in the mind. The chocolate meditation also proved popular.
Although I’ve been meditating for years, I learned a lot, both from Andy’s presentation and from the exercises. If you’re looking for a solid introduction to mindfulness, with some entertainment thrown in, I can highly recommend it.