The newest medication on the market is not found in a bottle. It’s not always prescribed by a doctor but is believed to treat many medical conditions from mental illness, to depression, anxiety, and chronic pain! It has taken a cult status in the business world.
What’s this treatment? It’s called mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. The most common way to develop this practice is through meditation. Thanks to technology, you can now click on the app on your phone and have access to hundreds of meditation exercises depending on your emotions, your activity and the allotted time available. It’s like a monk on demand.
There are several thousand meditation apps now available on your phone. Headspace, the app that has dominated the market is an English-American online healthcare company specializing in meditation. It was established in 2010 by the writer, public speaker, and health advocate Andy Puddicome and partner Richard Pierson. Andy is the soothing British voice on the app that many will recognize.
And by many, I mean millions.
In June of 2018, 31 million people had downloaded the app with the company surpassing more than 1 million users. More than 250 companies including Nike, Goldman Sachs, and Dane-Farber Cancer Institute have bought bulk subscriptions to headspace for their employees. According to Forbes, it has an estimated annual revenue worth $50 million and annual revenue estimated by Forbes of $250 million. Headspace has called themselves the “gym membership for the mind.”
Mindfulness is everywhere in the business world. The World Economic Forum in Davos opens with daily meditation sessions, companies like General Mills, General Motors and Target offer their employees meditation programs. Goldman Sachs and the Dane-Farber Cancer Insititute have bought bulk subscriptions to Headspace for their employees. Of course, when you have celebrities like Arianna Huffington and Richard Branson preaching the benefits of meditation, you begin to wonder maybe that’s why he owns a private island, and you don’t!
All jokes aside, in medicine mindfulness and meditation, have a minimal presence in traditional practices. However, there is increasing data to show benefit as a complementary or integrative health practice. There is evidence that it may reduce blood pressure as well as symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and flare-ups in people who have had ulcerative colitis. It may ease symptoms of anxiety and depression and may help people with insomnia. (NOTE) All of these treatments should not replace conventional care or act as a reason to postpone seeing a healthcare provider about a problem.
Headspace truly believes in its benefits that it is conducting researching with the app to validate the Headspace approach to meditation scientifically. It is partnered with over 35 scientific research institutions and organizations such as NYU, Harvard, and USC to conduct these third-party investigations. They are investigating whether the headspace meditation platform on clinical conditions such as efficacy in improving asthma, cancer patient quality of life, sleep quality and pain management. Through this research, they plan to develop the world’s first prescription meditation app as an FDA-cleared treatment for chronic disease.
What does this mean?? Well move over Google, Apple and Amazon, Headspace wants a piece of the pie. By clinically validating the app, they are solidifying the presence of Headspace as a clinical tool in healthcare, meaning that insurance companies may choose to cover the app in the future. Headspace will be used in homes, hospitals and doctors offices. Headspace will not only have you, but they will also have you as a user and YOUR DATA! The clinical validation of meditation through this research will also encourage certain specialists to integrate the use of meditation in their treatment of chronic disease, cancer treatments, chronic pain, and even obstetrics and gynecology! I am so excited by the future, now its time for me to meditate.
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• Gaylord SA, Palsson OS, Garland EL, et al. Mindfulness training reduces the severity of irritable bowel syndrome in women: results of a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2011;106(9):1678–1688.
• Goldstein CM, Josephson R, Xie S, et al. Current perspectives on the use of meditation to reduce blood pressure. International Journal of Hypertension. 2012;2012:578397.
• Jedel S, Hoffman A, Merriman P, et al. A randomized controlled trial of mindfulness-based stress reduction to prevent a flare-up in patients with inactive ulcerative colitis. Digestion. 2014;89:142–155.