Which companies can be founded around meditation?

Meditation apps : How the smartphone should help you switch off

Do not focus anything, perceive the space around you. Close your eyes, feel the weight of your body, let thoughts come and go. Like clouds in the sky. Slowly scan the body, from head to toe. What feels good, what doesn't. Breathe!

People all over the world now start their day with such instructions. You open an app on your smartphone and listen to a voice that guides you through a brief meditation. For five, seven, ten minutes. For a clear mind, before the madness begins in the train and in the office. The most famous app is Headspace. Founded in London in 2010 by Andy Puddicombe and Rich Pierson, the German and first non-English language version was presented in Berlin on Wednesday.

The two founders are sitting in a room in Soho House. Why do 40 million meditate with their app? “People have always strived for peace of mind,” says Puddicombe. "Just today. The world is loud, fast, hectic. Technologies increase our stress. At the same time there is a growing awareness of taking care of one's mental health. "

Its success is also due to its own history. When Puddicombe was 22 years old, several people died tragically around him. He broke off his sports studies, looked for answers in Asia, trained as a Buddhist monk, and often meditated 18 hours a day. For a decade. Then he moved back to England and graduated from a circus school. As he practiced juggling, he considered how he could pass on his meditation knowledge. Today he is a 46-year-old businessman and millionaire who wants to make humanity more relaxed.

Self-care was the app trend in 2018

A recent survey commissioned by Headspace shows how necessary this is. Of 2,400 respondents in Germany, 40 percent said they feel stressed. Around half are more upset than five years ago. The main reasons for this are too much work, constant availability, multi-tasking.

The smartphone is partly responsible for all of this. And that's exactly what should everyone relax again with that?

Puddicombe is aware of how paradoxical that sounds. “Basically it's just an object,” he says. “How we use it determines whether it harms us. We have the choice. ”In short: if you wait two minutes for the bus, you don't have to pull out your cell phone. And if so, he should meditate briefly instead of answering emails.

It's a billion dollar business. That's why Headspace is not alone in the market, but is getting more and more competitors who first advertise with a trial phase and then offer subscriptions. The iPhone manufacturer is also observing the rising demand and named self-care the app trend of the past year. For users, it is no longer just about counting steps and calories, but about their spiritual well-being. "Of course, you can learn a lot from books and therapists, but apps support daily, bit-by-bit training - a little bit every day," said Brown University psychiatrist Judson Brewer.

The German market leader is 7Mind, a start-up that was founded in Berlin in 2014. 1.5 million women and men use the seven-minute meditations on topics such as inner balance, concentration, brooding. One of the two founders is Manuel Ronnefeldt. He had found meditation during his Voluntary Social Year in India. Since then, he has been meditating for 20 minutes every day and using his app on the train or on the plane. But he also knows: not everyone will take so much time for this. If more people are to meditate, it has to fit into everyday life.

Ronnefeldt is also aware that smartphones, with their permanent flashing, curling and distraction, are seen more as a trigger of stress and not as a solution. “I've always had my iPhone in my pocket for years, look at it a hundred times a day,” he says. “It is unlikely to go away again. So we should change our relationship with it. ”His company has been profitable for two years. For this year he expects a turnover of five million euros. Three DAX companies have just bought the app for their employees. The statutory health insurance companies cooperate with him and reimburse up to 100 percent of the costs for 7Mind.

Five minutes? Not everyone believes in that

After all, numerous studies show that regular meditation leads to more resistance to stress, concentration, satisfaction and creativity. During that time, people shouldn't plan anything, evaluate anything, just be in that moment. With the effect that he generally reacts more calmly to events and changes. In England, therefore, the school subject mindfulness has now been introduced as a trial. Headspace and 7Mind have also had measurable effects proven by scientists.

Günter Hudasch is still a bit skeptical. He is the chairman of the Association of MBSR and MBCT Teachers in Germany. The two abbreviations stand for recognized mindfulness programs that are used in companies, universities and schools. “Meditating for five minutes is better than not meditating at all. It's like being present with your senses at least with your first cup of coffee and not writing down appointments at the same time, ”says Hudasch. But it is not comparable to a real course. “Sitting still for 30 or 60 minutes a day for eight weeks, feeling your body, hearing thoughts and perceiving moods without reacting to them, but just observing, is a much more intense experience.” In addition, there is the exchange with the teacher and other participants. Anyone who has learned and internalized all of this can meditate for five minutes in between. Otherwise, he doesn't think that many app users will do this for a long time.

If you want, you can be reminded of your mini meditation. The app makes the actually strenuous practice simple and convenient - if the smartphone is used for everything else, why not also take a break from it? That's fine with former monk Andy Puddicombe. The main thing is that people start and practice briefly, but steadily. With everything that happens around them! The day after Donald Trump was elected US President, the number of users of a headspace meditation for acute stress relief called SOS rose by 44 percent.

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