Dina Kaplan, who cofounded online video startupin 2005, knows that better than almost anyone.
“All I did was think about work. I was super-confident, functional … but then I started having panic attacks,” Kaplan told Business Insider. “For two years, I was afraid to walk down the street. All of the success and accolades just weren’t worth the fear.”
Kaplan attributed her growing stress to a number of factors. New York City’s work culture can be intense, and long hours are often heralded as a sign of success. Plus, as a woman, she didn’t have a good role model in the tech world.
“There are not a lot of women founders to look up to. In my head, I would say, ‘What would Peter Thiel do?'” Kaplain said. “But that’s not me. I knew I needed to get out of that world.”
Kaplan decided to leave her job at Blip, which was sold to Maker and then Disney before shutting down in August of this year. She booked a one-way trip to Bali and spent more than two years traveling the world.
After traveling to Myanmar and Bhutan, she arrived in India. In the airport, she started chatting with a guy in front of her in the customs line. He somehow talked her into going on a 10-day silent retreat.
“On day eight, a lightbulb went off. I started to understand what my triggers were,” she said. “You can choose your reactions throughout the day and exercise mental agility.”
She arrived back to New York in October 2014 and, soon after, started The Path, a startup that brings weekly meditation classes to beautiful spaces across the city.
“It was important to me that it was a modern form of meditation, where people could feel comfortable and learn what works for them,” Kaplan said. “It’s just like going to the gym for your mind.”
The Path’s instructors teach four different styles of meditation: energizing, mindfulness, mantra, and compassion. Each technique offers different benefits, and each class has a different structure.
“We really try to say, ‘Here are the tools. You decide what works for you,'” Kaplan said.
At a recent Path class, I met a banker who took up meditating as a way to ease his stress surrounding market volatility.
Nearby, a pair of Classpass employees told me they had tried to meditate on their own, but were happy to have a group to guide them through it.
“I had been wanting to do it on my own,” one told me. “But I find it hard to focus for a long time when I’m by myself.”
Much of the Path community comes from the startup world, Kaplan said. Investors, bankers, artists, and filmmakers are other frequent guests.
“A lot of the people who come are doing important and/or creative things,” Kaplan told us.
The session I attended was a small one, held at a gorgeous two-bedroom apartment at Jean Nouvel-designed 40 Mercer, in SoHo. I walked into the building — a swanky spot where Marc Jacobs and Daniel Radcliffe own condos — and was greeted by an attendant who, in a quiet, calm voice, sent me on the elevator to an upper floor.
As I entered, some guests relaxed on comfy couches, sipping on coconut water. Others enjoyed the city views, which were made even more awesome with wide-open windows. Continue reading >>