Given the amount of content Netflix releases every day, you might be unaware that they uploaded Headspace: Guide to Meditation earlier this month. The series focuses on the benefits of meditation and how meditation aids certain EI competencies. After watching this series and giving the guided meditations a try, I can safely say that this a great starting point for those looking to develop their meditation practice and I think parents and parents-to-be in particular can find a lot to love about it.
What to Expect
Each episode follows a similar structure. The narrator first discusses a theme. Often it’s something to structure your meditation practice around, such as appreciating life through reflection, acknowledging and working through pain, etc. The narrator then talks about his personal experience with that practice to demonstrate its possible uses and effects. Often, there will be an overview of the history of that practice. And for the second half of the episode, the narrator calmly instructs the viewer on a guided meditation focused on that particular idea or practice.
What I found particularly striking about were the scientific studies that support the theory that meditation physiologically improves our brains and bodies. In Episode 2, “How to Let Go,” they reference a Harvard study on physiological changes to the brain from meditation. Researcher and professor Sara Lazar reports that after 8 weeks of meditation, the part of the brain that controls anxiety physically shrinks and becomes less active. Her research is shared again in Episode 6, “How to Deal with Pain,” to explain how pain works in the brain and how meditation changes the brain’s physical reaction to receiving pain stimulus.
Takeaways for a Wide Audience
Where the series finds mass appeal, I believe, is in the animation. The art style is colorful and flows fluidly between different ideas. It gives you something to focus on, but can be easily tuned out during the guided meditation portion. I found it really aided my meditation by mimicking certain emotional and physical sensations of calm and deep breathing.
Meditation is a fairly abstract concept for children to understand, but the animation is where I believe children will find it accessible. Because it’s intended for meditation, it’s not the most stimulating show for a child. That’s why I recommend supervised viewing so parents can help explain some of the larger concepts about why it’s valuable. It would also be a great thing to watch before bedtime as it has a very calming effect on parents and kids alike.
I also believe Episode 6, “How to Deal with Pain,” would be particularly beneficial to expecting moms, especially as they prepare for childbirth. On top of being a major life decision that requires reflection and confidence, pregnancy can be a physically challenging experience. Episode 6 details how our relation to pain is both mental and physical. It also explains some meditation techniques that can help our minds find peace with pain. I think this is especially applicable to the temporary pain of childbirth. If put into practice at the start of the journey of pregnancy, this practice could help lessen the physical burden and intensity of that pain.
Putting EI Into Practice
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you will recognize some familiar topics in Headspace: Guide to Meditation. The episodes “How to Be Kind” (Empathy/Compassion), “How to Deal With Stress” (Emotional Self-Control), and “How to Achieve Your Limitless Potential” (Achievement Orientation) are all great examples of how meditation can help us improve our EI competencies.
In a day full of work meetings, household chores, and endless distractions, why not take 20 minutes to learn something new and do nothing but be comfortable within your own mind? As the series demonstrates, just starting this process can have extensively positive effects on the physical workings of your brain. I can say from experience, the feeling of tranquility I experienced after only a few episodes was perceptible and remarkable.
At the end of the day, Headspace provides a colorful, kid-friendly introduction to meditation, but it also taught me quite a few things. People at all different stages of meditation practice will find a positive takeaway from the series. Wellness and meditation have risen on many people’s priority lists, so if you’re looking to make meditation a habit, I recommend starting here. If you already have Netflix, then why not give it a try? What do you have to lose? If you don’t have Netflix, the 10% Happier app is another option and a resource I’ve used over the past 5 years. If you tap into one of these resources, or another meditation resource I’ve not mentioned, let me know how you like what you use and how it compares to other meditation guides you’ve tried. I would love to know what you think!