Breathe in… breathe out… Now more than ever, meditation can be a beautiful tool to calm your mind and provide some much-needed mental strength, and the process can be a lot easier with a bit of helpful coaching. That’s where Peach Mindfulness comes in.
An avocado shake doesn’t hurt either.
This is A Workday With Quyen Balter, Founder of Peach Mindfulness.
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I started out working as a software engineer for big tech firms in Boston such as Nokia and Microsoft for several years. In 2015, I moved to the Twin Cities for a Data Science job with Target and got really excited about building smart capability for machines to converse with humans. My personal area of interest to apply this technology is in health and wellness.
Two years ago, I created this iOS app called ThePositiveApp which uses Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to help people improve their mental wellbeing through journaling.
A year ago, I created a chatbot called Turrie – Your Happiness Pal where I developed an emotional intelligence technology combined with relaxation/mindfulness techniques to talk with people about their stress and how they can go about it throughout the day.
I really love building intelligent technology in the area of mindfulness. I’ve been meditating for six or seven years now and the time I started it was during my first pregnancy. Meditation helped me with my insomnia at the time and has been helping me since then because I tend to have many thoughts in my head at the same time. It helps clear up my thoughts before bedtime so I can sleep better.
Last year, during a summer meditation retreat, I came by the idea for Peach while I was sitting outside at a picnic table having lunch. It was the second day of the retreat, and my mind was still racing. At the time, I wondered, “Why am I in the middle of the retreat and feeling stressed out?” Then, right when I pulled out a peach to have for dessert, an answer immediately popped out in my head “Ah, it’s because I’m not in the present moment. If I am focusing on what I am doing now, then there is only one task at hand, enjoying this Peach, which is perfectly sweet and juicy.”
So, I came back carefully researching different apps to help me to practice being in the present moment. But all of the apps I found are just overwhelming with content and meditation techniques. After not being able to find one, I decided to create Peach to provide a simple way for people to meditate. Peach is like a meditation coach in the way that it understands your meditation goals and levels and can give you a personalized path so you can succeed in meditating.
At the time, I also talked to Venerable Thich Hanh Duc, my Buddhist Dharma teacher, about the idea for forming Peach and he wholeheartedly supported me. Venerable Thich Hanh Duc has a Ph.D. in Buddhism from the University of New Delhi, India, and has been practicing meditation for nearly 40 years. He is the content advisor for all of Peach’s meditation and has helped us build invaluable content for Peach Mindfulness.
My goal is with Peach, everyone can successfully learn to meditate and can enjoy the benefits of mindfulness every day.
What time do you rise and shine?
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
Avocado shake. It’s relatively quick to make. I read that avocados are the nutrients all stars.
What’s the first work-related task you tackle each morning?
Email, Creative Writing for Peach Mindfulness.
What is your workspace setup?
I have my MacBook hooked to a nice high-resolution monitor. They support my development and design work for Peach. I also have piles of books about meditations that I read throughout the day while I’m writing for Peach and once in a while I take a glimpse at my backyard garden.
What’s the most interesting/fun/meaningful thing on your desk?
A piece of paper that says “No fear.”
What’s one piece of tech you can’t live without?
My AirPods. I listen to the guided meditations with them throughout the day.
What do you need to get done before lunch to feel like you had a productive morning?
My workout and morning meditation.
What are you listening to these days?
Peach Mindfulness meditations.
What is your current TV obsession?
I don’t watch TV regularly, but when I watch it, it’s usually the SNL with Jimmy Fallon.
What’s the last movie you saw and what would you rate it (out of five stars)?
In the theatre, “Onward.” 3 out of 5.
What book would we find on your nightstand?
A book by the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh — “The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation.”
Cats or dogs?
The best part about living in Minnesota is…
State parks and beautiful nature.
How do you fend off the post-lunch lull?
A strawberry smoothie. I am a smoothie person.
What do you use to stay organized during a hectic day?
Morning and evening meditations for 15 minutes each.
What’s a recent work-related challenge you had to conquer? Walk us through your process.
A couple of weeks ago, our system got down because we had a surge in the number of people who signed up for our 7 Day Mind Cleanse. The problem happened on a weekend, and I was in the middle of my meditation retreat at home so I didn’t get to resolve the problem until a day later. I worked with the team to patch the system after that, but that was the time when I had to really sit down and think about what to do when Peach gets really big and how we scale our system so it can serve many people.
What’s one thing everyone could do to be more productive?
In a day, we just need a few moments to stop, breathe, and bring our mind back to the present moment.
What’s the last work-related thing you do every day?
I still have the habit of working late from the time when I was a software developer. The last thing I do every night is listening to Peach’s sleep stories to make sure the sounding, the words, and the stories all blend well together before we release a new story to our audience. It’s also a great way for me to end the night. It’s work and relaxation at the same time.
How do you decompress at the end of a long workday?
I love to work on the plants, the shrubs, and the trees in our garden at the end of the day.
What time do you usually hit the hay?
Anything new with Peach Mindfulness?
We just launched Peach Mindfulness’ 7 Day Mind Cleanse to the public and got over 1,000 signups in less than a month. We are excited to continue this momentum in our goal to make meditation simple and accessible for everyone. Give it a try, especially if you are new to meditation and looking for a start to mindfulness practice.
Photos courtesy of Peach Mindfulness.
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