Andy Puddicombe is a monk — but he’s nothing like you’d expect a monk to be.
After studying for years in silent retreat in the Himalayas, he was formally ordained as a Buddhist monk. Now, you can find him in Venice Beach, CA, where he has founded a successful tech startup and enjoys surfing and hanging out on the beach. His guided meditation app, called Headspace, provides subscribers with simple mindfulness tools that allow people to reorganize their, well, headspace.
Puddicombe is a firm believer that you don’t have to go to a monastery to learn meditation — you just have to have “10 mindful minutes” every day.
“Meditation is a really important tool, but it’s only when we bring it into our relationships and our lives that we start to really see the changes,” said Puddicombe, “For me, that is success…learning to put down all the stuff, that baggage that gets in the way and weighs us down in life, and learning to be kinder to ourselves and the people around us.”
Puddicombe’s determination to better understand his own mind began when he started to meditate at age 11. When he was in college, he felt himself feeling happy on a surface level, but unfulfilled on the inside, so he traveled to India, where he studied Buddhism.
A few years later, while he was teaching at a meditation center in Moscow, a businessman he met asked Puddicombe to come teach the executives at his office. That’s when Puddicombe decided he could do good by teaching others to develop healthier relationships with their own minds.
Meditation is known to have some very positive effects on people’s physical and mental well being; one study found that 75% of insomniacs who started a daily meditation program were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.
Headspace has already been downloaded by three million people and has been a commercial success with subscription plans starting at $7.99 a month.
“It’s something I set out not with commercial intent. Success has come along with it and that’s wonderful because it allows us to fulfill our mission,” Puddicombe said.