Meet the team: Helen Stander | Marketing Lead

Helen opens up about finding meaningful work and meditating with your partner


By Dana Jaffe

Recently, our editor Dana Jaffe sat down with each of the buddhify team members to find out what they’re all about. Here she talks with Helen Stander about mindfulness apps, finding meaningful work, becoming a mother, and meditating with your partner.

As a current part of the buddhify team and a previous member of the team at Headspace, you’re extremely familiar with the world of mindfulness apps. How have you seen this space change over the span of five years?

It’s been huge both in terms of the sheer number of mindfulness apps available and the quality of the user experience within the apps themselves. For many people, it’s no longer a question of ‘is a mindfulness app right for me’ but ‘which mindfulness app is right for me’.

What originally sparked your interest in meditation?

It was curiosity that first brought me to meditation. About six years ago, I decided on a whim to read a book about Tibet which had a strong Buddhist theme. This caught my interest, so next I read a book about Buddhism and the idea of meditation contained here really resonated with me. Just as I was thinking ‘I’d really like to give this a try’, I discovered that there was a Buddhist centre at the end of my road in North London that offered drop in meditation classes. I decided to give it a go.

How did your practice continue to evolve after that experience?

I started going to the classes there once a week and really enjoyed them, but found it difficult to meditate at home without any guidance. Through another series of coincidences, I stumbled across Headspace, which at the time was in it’s very earliest days as an app after transitioning from an events business. I began using this at home in the mornings before work to help me integrate my practice into my daily routine outside of the classes.

Is that what led you to working with startups and social enterprises in the health, wellbeing, and social impact sectors?

Yes! As many people experience, meditation had a big impact on the way I thought of and approached lots of different areas of my life. This included my career and work life. I decided I wanted to spend my time working on something I considered meaningful, that was helping to make a positive impact on people’s lives. 

Can you share a story or a specific example of a time meditation and mindfulness has made a difference in your life?

My meditation practice was of huge benefit to me during my pregnancy and birth of my daughter a year and a half ago. It really helped to reduce my anxiety around childbirth and the enormity of the prospect of becoming a parent. I would focus on the changes happening in my body and my baby growing inside me during my practice while I was pregnant which helped me to feel more connected with my daughter before she arrived. Also, I had a difficult birth and meditation, as well as the amazing support of my family, helped me to process, accept, and recover from this.

You and your husband are both interested in mindfulness. Has it changed your relationship in any way?

Yes, in lots of ways. Particularly in how we approach and communicate with each other in difficult situations. I think we’re both more considered and empathetic in our response to each other rather than reactionary. This has been especially important with a new baby. When we’re both feeling exhausted, it’s been so important to maintain a shared sense of care in the way we communicate.

Following up to that previous question, do you two practice together? If so, what is that like?

We do! Not everyday, but more when we feel like we need to reconnect a little. After we’ve put our daughter to bed, we’ll sit on the sofa and do a short meditation together. Recently, we’ve been using the ‘With Partner’ tracks on buddhify, which are just lovely. Meditating together took a little bit of getting used to we both used to get the giggles, but now it’s something we’re both really comfortable with.

Why and in what situations would you recommend meditation to a friend?

I think I’ve recommended meditation to just about everyone I know! For me it’s been of benefit in just about every area of my life, however I have come to realise that you need to be careful not to try and ‘push’ meditation on to others. People will come to it in their own time on their own terms, and it’s certainly not something you can try and persuade someone to do.

About Helen

An early member of the team at Headspace, Helen now works with buddhify and a range of different health & wellbeing-related startups on marketing, growth and communications strategy. Based just outside London, like Rohan & Lucy, Helen balances her mindfulness work with parenting a young child.