5 March 2020

I feel like a new person.

As cliched though it sounds, this precisely describes how I feel at the moment. Yesterday, today – I am a new me.

All because of one mobile app and ten minutes a day. I’m doing many things I never foresaw myself doing.

But then again, how much of life is foreseeable?

I certainly did not have this scenario in mind when my manager first recommended Headspace to me, all those weeks (months?) ago.

A little backstory, some months into my not-so-new-anymore job at Agoda, I started experiencing a buzz (a.k.a. state of heightened brain activity). I’ve written about this here. As a result of that buzz (which passed in a few weeks), I started a months-long conversation thread with my manager where we talk about how I can prevent work creep and burnout.

Eventually that thread led to a more specific goal on my end: not to think about work outside work hours. And to that goal, my manager recommended to me the app Headspace.

I sat on it for weeks, meaning I had the word “Headspace” written on my to-do list but did nothing about it. Partially out of the really negative reviews I saw on the Google app store about glitches and having to pay for everything, but I guess also partially out of inertia and a maybe-fear(?) – who knows.

Finally, several gentle proddings from my manager and one workshop on Building Great Habits later, I was inspired to download the app one evening. I just downloaded it and created an account, nothing more.

The next night (or maybe it was the night after next), I started my first 3-minute Basics course. And golly.

I never considered myself a meditating kind of person. I used to look on people who meditate with a kind of mild awe and incomprehension. I guessed they got something out of it, but I never got how people could sit and meditate.

Three minutes of Headspace Basics session later, I totally got it. I felt different. Calmer, more relaxed.

Just like that, the 3, then 5, then 10 minutes of Headspace each night before bed became something I looked forward to every morning. And this is not an exaggeration. I would start my day and think: I cannot wait for tonight so I can sit with Headspace for 10 minutes (that’s the maximum duration for the Basics course).

Since starting that first session, I’ve meditated for a total of 51 minutes across 7 sessions. And I’m loving every second of it.

Purely the fact that I’m now meditating every night is incredible. But there’s more.

Since starting this, I’ve begun to seek head space elsewhere. I’ve begun building into my day space for my mind to unwind. I’ve stopped watching Netflix before bed. Instead I just go straight to bed or (if I’m not sleepy) listen to a Sleepcast on the app. I’ve begun taking out my earphones to absorb the sounds around me and just “be”.

And I’m doing all these things not because I feel like I should or that it’d be good for me. I’m doing them because I want to. For no discernible reason, I’m just getting these urges to do these things.

I’ve also stopped multi-tasking. Because I want to. No one told me I shouldn’t do it. The guy I’m meditating to every night on Headspace never said anything about multi-tasking. I just realised I didn’t want to do it anymore.

This began yesterday morning. I was walking to work with my earphones in, listening to a podcast, when I caught myself about to lift my phone to type something into it (I can’t remember now what – might have been my morning’s calorie count). And I stopped myself. Because I wanted to not multi-task. I wanted to focus on the podcast and the walk. The calorie-count (if that’s what it was) could wait.

And I’ve begun reaping the benefits. I was in a workshop today at work and – by God – I never got so much out of a workshop. I was never able to focus so well, digest the information being transmitted, draw connections. All because I didn’t multi-task. I would get a thought flit into my mind: ah, I should send that e-mail. Ooh, I should check that. But I would just let the thought go. “I’m in this workshop now. That e-mail can be sent after. I don’t need to check that now – what good will it do? I’m in a workshop and can’t do anything about it anyways.”

I’ve stopped checking my phone while signing into my laptop. I type in my username and password, and the few seconds the laptop takes to boot up, I just wait. I look at the screen and wait. And once it’s done, I check my phone. Sounds silly. But it makes a difference to me. Being able to focus, and focusing, on one thing at a time has created what I only in the past few days realised I sorely needed: head space.

But wait: there’s more.

I’ve stopped wasting time on Instagram and Facebook. Two nights ago I started to swipe up on Instagram, then I stopped myself. I realised I didn’t really enjoy it, looking at those photos of people I used to know but barely do now didn’t do anything good for me. All it did was waste time and make me dazed. I always felt bad about it afterwards. So I stopped and put my phone away.

It’s as if I’ve become more aware of the impact of different actions on my frame of mind. And with that awareness I’ve taken back control over my life.

It’s incredible. And completely unexpected.

And that’s why I’m here: to capture this momentous moment for posterity.

Thank you Joy, thank you Headspace.

Hello new Val – let’s see where this road takes us.


New Val

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