Frank Chartrand is a product designer for Headspace, a mindfulness and meditation app. Originally from a small, rural town in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, Frank often felt like it was an uphill battle to find his place. After beginning and running his own digital agency for many years, he began to feel directionless and needed a new tool to deal with stress from the daily grind of his demanding job. Once he discovered Headspace and began to meditate, he became more aware of himself and those around him. Eventually, he was offered a job as a visual and interaction designer at an agency in San Francisco, California, and, as the saying goes, he decided to “go west” and make the move. Soon after, he made the switch to work at Headspace in Santa Monica, where he now gets to combine his love and passion for design, meditation, and mindfulness.
“I’m a designer at work and in my free time. It’s more of a calling than a job.”
An Introduction to Meditation
Frank was introduced to Headspace at a time when he was struggling to manage the stress and long hours at his own agency. Initially, he was quite skeptical of the idea of mindfulness and meditation as being a feasible solution to struggling with balance. But, after using the app a few times, he realized it was helping him in all areas of his life including sleeping better, being more creative, and having more drive. Practicing meditation also showed Frank how to live mindfully and be aware of the moment. Headspace opened his eyes to multiple approaches for living a fulfilling and authentic life.
“The better you get to know yourself – the good, the bad, the ugly – the more effective you can be in life, the more genuine you can be as a person, and the most real you can be for yourself.”
Respecting Your Boundaries
When it was time for Frank to make the transition to a new city, how he made the move was “a testament to mindfulness.” Frank was aware of what would make the most sense for him. Rather than getting on a plane and suddenly landing in a foreign place, he and his fiancée decided to pack up a truck with their belongings and drive across the country to slowly transition into their new home. “We respected our own boundaries and how we wanted to do that.” Similarly, while many people in LA are constantly on the go, moving from place to place, and travelling, Frank recognizes that this lifestyle isn’t for him. He believes that it’s okay to be “ineffective once in a while” and doesn’t worry about what others are doing. Instead, Frank lives mindfully by maintaining self-awareness and accepting what works for him.
“I’ve learned to respect those boundaries. It’s okay not to feel that desire.”
A Sixth Sense
Frank shared that practicing meditation leads to a more mindful, aware life. “Mindfulness is this idea of being a bit more aware. It’s self-awareness and awareness of others.” By practicing daily meditation, Frank can slow down and become more conscious of his surroundings, of his own thoughts, and of what others may be going through. Whether it’s recognizing that you need to take a break, noticing people hurry past you during rush hour and stopping to let them by, or slowing down during an argument to ask yourself, “Where is that person coming from? What are they dealing with today?”, meditation helps you have a deeper awareness of what’s going on within you as well as outside of you.
“Having that sixth sense is like a superpower to go through life with; To be a bit more awakened to what you’re going through and what others are going through.”
Being self-aware, recognizing his boundaries, and asking “What’s the best day I’ve had in the last month?” helped Frank realize exactly what sphere he wanted to work in. He found that being lost in his work and focused on craft and design with minimal distractions was his ideal day. Now, Frank gets to work at Headspace as a product designer and merge his two passions: meditation and design. This was no happy accident. Frank shared that it was intentional and happened because, by living mindfully, he accepted who he was and recognized what he wanted for his life.
“Be very real with yourself and what makes you tick, what gives you the best day and best week. Hopefully those days lead to months and years and a life that’s fulfilling.”
Practice, Not Perfect
Unlike physically working out, where progress and immediate changes can be seen, working on and building up your mind’s strength takes time. “It’s a little bit harder to see those changes in your mind,” explained Frank. He also shared that sometimes, he misses out on his daily meditations but reminds himself to call it “mindfulness or meditation practice, not meditation perfect.” Whether you practice mindfulness through reflection, meditation, or journaling, it’s important to remember that it’s a practice and a process. The beautiful thing about meditation is that once you’ve started, it will only get easier, more effective, and more beneficial.
“Every time you go back to meditate after a break, you don’t have to climb a big mountain or take a big jump to get back into that state… Focusing on mindfulness in general for a portion of your life means there’s some skills you’ll take away that stay with you forever.”
Frank’s Questions for KYŌ:
- What do I want to achieve today?
- What’s the best day I’ve had in the last month?
- Where is that person coming from or what are they dealing with?
Illustration by Headspace