Mindful Escapes: the Headspace meditation app, but on television – The Guardian

Posted: September 5, 2020 at 12:52 pm


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By now we have all downloaded the mindfulness app Headspace, tried it four times, breathlessly told all our friends we are into meditation now and no, really, you should try it and I dont even need coffee in the mornings now! and then forgotten to do it one day when we were meant to be doing it because we had too many emails to answer, then turning our phone over when the little reminder notification came in, then, three months later, realising weve been paying 9.99 a month to not use an app and then, two more months after that, quietly deleting the whole thing and never meditating again and wondering distantly why our sleep has been so disordered for so long. By now we have all done that.

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Hmm, though: what if Headspace was on television? You just imagined Mindful Escapes: Breathe, Release, Restore (Monday to Thursday, 7pm, BBC Four), which is Headspace on television. Whats interesting about TV is it has the potential to be a near limitlessly creative format, and yet what we do with that is make five soaps, two reality shows and one hard drama every year then fill the rest of the time with Come Dine With Me repeats. How often do you sit down in front of the TV and go: Wow, this is different! This is unlike anything Ive ever, ever seen!? Exactly.

Mindful Escapes isnt going to make you do that, either, but its going to make you think about doing it. The show in brief: Headspace co-founder and business monk Andy Puddicombe soothingly narrates over the top of some leftover Attenborough nature footage, and that is meant to be relaxing. On the surface this is a completely new and innovative way of using the format of television, but the result is like a motivational quote that happens to move. Andy tells you the earth is a living, breathing object as a fern curls out of the soil. He tells you breath is an important facet of the mind as an eagle soars over an icy vista. Clouds part to reveal a river. You hear the sound of rain turning to snow, the sound of water lazily pooling. Andy Puddicombe says something about breathing again. The sun dapples gently through the canopy. You dont have to check your emails. Your emails can probably wait, most of them.

Does it work? Youre sort of asking the wrong person I once had to leave a session in a flotation tank 12 minutes into my allotted hour because the sensation of bobbing in the salted water and staring at a curved purple pod ceiling that looked like the inside of a testicle made me hysterical, so I towelled off and went to the pub instead but the short answer is no, not really. I mean, its recycled nature footage with the Headspace bloke occasionally saying breathe over the top of it. Its quite relaxing for a while, but you could make that argument for watching paint dry, and people are always ragging on that.

If you are really, really stressed, I would obviously prescribe you half an hour of BBC Four with some soothing cooing over the top of it and, fair play, it would absolutely blast if you put it on a projector at the winding down time of a house party but its not really an event to gather the family round for. Maybe we should just stick to the dull, familiar limits of TV. Theres a reason why the old classics still hit.

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Mindful Escapes: the Headspace meditation app, but on television - The Guardian

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September 5th, 2020 at 12:52 pm

Posted in Meditation