Mindful living and meditation can be life-changing tools for students: Headspace co-founders tell IIT-B students

Mindful living and meditation can be life-changing tools for students: Headspace co-founders tell IIT-B students
Andy Puddicombe, Former Buddhist Monk and Co-founder of Headspace and Richard Pierson, Co-founder and CEO, HeadspaceHeadspace
  • Andy Puddicombe, Former Buddhist Monk and Co-founder of Headspace and Richard Pierson, Co-founder and CEO, Headspace met students of IIT Bombay to talk about the health benefits of taking a break and meditating, even if it was for 5 minutes.
  • Puddicombe and Pierson walked students through the Headspace story so far, and what lies in the future.

‘How many of you take out 5 minutes of your daily schedules to destress and do nothing?’, asked Andy Puddicombe, Global Meditation Icon and Co-founder, Headspace to a room full of students in IIT-Bombay. He didn’t seem surprised when only two hands shot up.

While students are one of the most stressed-out communities in the world, there is not much being done to talk about it, or find a fix for it. Puddicombe, along with Richard Pierson, Co-founder and CEO, Headspace, a global leader in meditation and an online healthcare company were at this premier institute to talk to students about the positives of meditation and how it could help in improving overall health and well-being.

The aim of the talk was to encourage students to take a break from their hectic schedules every day and spend some time on their mental health and overall well-being.
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It was in his early twenties that Puddicombe left his Sports Science degree to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk. For over 10 years, his meditation training took him across the world to Nepal, India, Burma, Thailand, Australia and Russia. He was ordained at a Tibetan monastery in the Indian Himalayas. In this journey, he decided to make meditation accessible for the entire world. That’s when Puddicombe and Pierson conceptualised Headspace together.

Headspace was later launched in 2010 as an event company and converted into an online application in 2012. It currently has over 62 million members and 2 million paid subscribers across 190 countries. Headspace has raised $93 million in a mix of debt and equity in a funding round that saw the participation from Times Bridge, the global investments and partnership arm of the Times Group. As part of the investment, Headspace will now launch its services in India.

Sharing what encouraged Puddicombe to start Headspace, he said, “People never really have had access to meditation. It was always tied up with religion or traditions or some foreign language. There's some sort of mystical kind of veil around it, when in truth, it's something that is universal, timeless and each and every one of us can learn it. Even thinking about the idea of just stepping out of our busy mind feels like a bit of a relief and the experience on a daily basis can have a really transformative effect. So I made the decision to leave the monastery and to begin teaching meditation in a different way.”
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However, Puddicombe and Pierson said they have become ‘accidental entrepreneurs’. All they did was follow their true passion, which was to make the world a happier place. They believed in the power of their idea since the beginning.

Speaking of mental health has been a taboo, not just in India but globally too. As an online platform where you can access short, bite-sized meditation sessions on-the-go, Headspace is helping people to seek help themselves. Sharing some insights on the kind of people using the app, Pierson said, “The ratio of men to women on the app is 50:50. People between the age of 25-40 are the most active users. Students have to deal with a lot of pressure, there is a lot of expectation.” He stressed that if students start developing the habit of meditation early on in their lives, it could be of a lot of help to them - in handling pressures of societal expectations, in navigating their careers in the tech and corporate world.

“We started something because we really cared about it and felt passionate about it. We wanted to share this with people,” added Puddicombe. He stressed that even taking out 5 minutes on a daily basis to take care of their mental health could soon start showing positive effects on people’s minds and bodies.
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