The Path to Mindfulness

How an entrepreneur turned a struggle with anxiety into a quest to help others find the tools for meditation, mindfulness and mental health.

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For many, the chance to work at Apple would seem like a dream job. And for Eddie Cohen, it was, just perhaps not in the way he originally intended. While at Apple, Eddie’s long-term struggle with anxiety and adult-onset ADD were exacerbated until they became nearly disabling. But the course to find a solution led him to engage with mindfulness — and help others do the same.

When Eddie set off on a journey to find a non-pharmaceutical way to manage his anxiety and ADD, he discovered meditation. He realized there was a lack of mindfulness products in the market, and what was there were unattractive and uninspiring: there weren’t objects that stimulated a desire to practice meditation or to integrate the products into daily life and make that practice easier to sustain.

He began developing accessories, from gongs to robes to cushions, that he hoped would encourage others to pursue mindfulness and discover the same peace he had found. In 2018, he co-founded Walden with Calvin Lien, a designer formerly at Microsoft and Google. Their vision of Walden: a way to help everyone cultivate the space to be present and find stillness within their mind.

I spoke with Eddie about why mindfulness can’t be overlooked, no matter how busy we think we are — and how we can create sustainable practices to remain connected to ourselves.

Beth Doane: What was the catalyst for you to co-create a company focused on meditation?
Eddie Cohen: Meditation has been an instrumental part of my life since 2013. In 2017, while working at Apple, I wanted to invest in my meditation space, but couldn’t find products that I loved. I set out to design a premium meditation cushion with my friend, Calvin. We’re now working on expanding the universe of Walden products to include scent related products, timers, etc.

Doane: What has been one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced with growing a company?
Cohen: Everything about boot-strapping a company is difficult! We’re a small team and all have to do everything from customer service to inventory planning to product design and marketing.

Doane: Walden emerged from your own struggles with mental health. How do you continue to integrate wellness into your life to find peace, physically and mentally?
Cohen: Practicing meditation has helped me navigate an increasingly chaotic and unpredictable world while staying calm. As a high-energy, frenetic individual, it’s especially useful for me in slowing down.

Doane: What are three wellness tips that have helped improve your life, and that others could incorporate into their routine?
Cohen: First, carve out a dedicated space for your practice. It makes it much easier to stick to the routine. Remember that developing healthy habits are very difficult in the beginning but pretty soon, a switch flips, and you begin to love to practice these habits. The benefits of a daily meditation practice compound. You’ll see incredible personality-altering results after years of practice. It’s gradual and extremely powerful.

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