Adam: The Practical Mind Founder- Guest Feature
As part of our dedication to bringing you new resources for increasing happiness, we share spotlights on distinguished and interesting individuals. This week we’ve got Adam, founder of The Practical Mind where he focuses on meditation and mindfulness. Thank you Adam for taking the time to answer these questions. Let’s get into it, shall we?
Why did you start The Practical Mind and what’s your mission?
A shift towards a work-from-home lifestyle at the start of COVID made it clear that I needed some kind of structure in my life or my mind would atrophy. My mental health was also in decline from being in the same four walls every day and not being able to see my friends and family. Realizing that millions of other people were in the same boat, I decided to explore meditation, mental wellness, and productivity techniques and share my journey in the form of a blog. The more I wrote, researched, and became involved on social media, the more I started to see some issues, gaps, and misconceptions:
- Meditation is often depicted as a spiritual or religious practice rather than one grounded in empirical evidence.
- There is an overwhelming lack of men who are open about their mental health or meditation practices.
- There is still considerable stigma and misunderstanding in the realm of mental health. People often try to avoid negative emotions or distract themselves rather than try to understand them.
- Many health and wellness influencers set a superficial and unrealistic standard for what “healthy” and “well” should look like.
- When it comes to productivity, people seem to be more willing to show off pictures of their perfectly staged workspaces or beautifully designed notebooks rather than offering any helpful tips.
My mission is to make meditation and mindfulness more accessible to everyone and promote more discussions about mental wellness. I want people to meditate. I want people to be kinder to themselves. And I want people to put their phones down and focus when they need to.
Why did you decide to start incorporating meditation into your daily life?
I’ve struggled with depression and impulse control for some time, and I was tired of never feeling quite like myself. My emotions would often get the best of me during disagreements, and I had trouble not taking things personally. I decided to make meditation a daily habit in order to get more in touch with myself, become happier and more empathetic, improve my focus, and introduce a bit more calmness into my life.
What changes did you notice after you started meditating?
It was actually my fiancé who first noticed the changes: I was more actively listening to her during conversations and acknowledging her feelings during disagreements rather than justifying my actions. She also noted that I’ve been more open and honest in my communication rather than keeping things to myself. On a personal level, I feel my general baseline mood has shifted from “meh” to “good”. I still experience anger, sadness, and frustration, but I’m able to process those feelings and let them go much faster than before. My focus and discipline have drastically improved, making me less likely to become distracted during the workday. I also have a slight stutter that I struggle with from time to time, but mindfulness meditation has made it easier to recognize the particular triggers for the stutter and helped me not get so stuck in my head about it.
One of your blog posts is about Bujo, can you briefly explain what it is and its benefits?
Bujo is a quick, versatile, and efficient journaling technique that combines your daily planner, to-do list, diary, and whatever else you might use a notebook for. Rather than having separate notebooks for everything, it allows you to keep everything in one place and encourages you to take a more mindful approach to planning your days, weeks, and months.
What’s one book you would recommend for those who want to start meditating but just don’t know where to start?
The Mind Illuminated by Culadasa, Matthew Immergut, and Jeremy Graves is terrific. It does a great job at incorporating both the Buddhist roots of meditation with modern science. It explains the various stages of meditation and offers tips on dealing with common issues like sleepiness and distractions. It’s often hard to explain the inner workings of the mind, but the book offers some useful illustrations to help beginners visualize what’s going on.
What’s one exercise or reflection question you think would help people increase their happiness?
Choose one activity that you do every day. Every time you do that activity, commit to taking your time and being present for its entire duration by focusing on all of the sensations that you experience. For example, if you choose to do this while taking a shower, focus on the temperature of the water, the smell of the shampoo, the texture of your hair, etc. By slowing down and observing rather than mindlessly rushing through the activity, you may find you take pleasure in it and feel more connected to yourself.
Want More From Adam? Check Out These Resources:
Adam is the founder of The Practical Mind, a secular blog exploring the practical applications of meditation, mindfulness, and productivity techniques. Apart from his current role as a writer for a production agency, his background ranges from psychology and film to teaching and web development. In his free time, he likes to hike, read, code, and play D&D. He lives with his fiancé, cat, and chinchilla in Toronto.