I am very pleased to share my latest interview with Jacqui Lewis, Vedic meditation teacher and co-founder of The Broad Place. I first learned about Jacqui through my dear friend Lacy Phillips when The Broad Place came through Los Angeles last spring. I was eager to attend their meditation course but was traveling during that time. Thankfully Jacqui is coming back to town next week and I have signed up for her three day Broad Mind Meditation course. I cannot wait to learn from her!
In our interview Jacqui shares the benefits of Vedic meditation, how she is carving a unique path making ancient teachings accessible for modern life and what it’s like to run a conscious business with her husband. I am very inspired by Jacqui’s honest and well rounded approach to how she moves through the world. I love that Jacqui is so dedicated to her practice in the middle of running a business, growing a family and sharing her teachings with the world.
You have been on the Vedic meditation path for many years and have now developed your own progressive meditation technique. How did you get into Vedic meditation and what promoted you to create your own style?
I practiced meditation for almost 9 years, trying everything I could, but not really experiencing what I thought I should be, I didn’t feel the full potential being reached. Throughout this time I also studied Eastern philosophy. I was undergoing an incredibly stressful time when my daughter was a tiny baby, and I learned Vedic meditation, I think I crawled through the door. It shifted absolutely everything for me, it’s a phenomenal practice and it continues to amaze and delight me.
After teaching and sharing Vedic meditation for years now, I was intertwining additional tools and knowledge for students to wonderful effect. The feedback has been remarkable, so I committed to broadening the teaching to encompass these formally. Broad Mind Meditation has a solid foundation of Vedic Meditation, with some extra teachings and tools within it. I’m really proud of creating this, and watching the results students have been experiencing, so I can’t wait to share it with LA!
When did you know you were meant to teach and share the benefits meditation with others?
Initially it wasn’t something I considered, I just meditated and loved practice. I had a marketing and advertising agency, and a restaurant and bar, and was working like crazy but sustaining it all, whereas people around me, our clients and colleagues were dropping like flies due to the pressure and strain of being ‘creative’ and ‘on’ all the time.
I attempted to get them to learn Vedic meditation over and over (my husband included) but the responses were always similar, they felt it hippy or weird or old hat. So I committed to training and then teaching this practice to those who desired the ancient knowledge to be delivered in a very realistic, modern way. That’s the speciality of The Broad Place. I don’t live in a cave and practice yoga 6 hours a day. I’m a mother, a wife, I like eating donuts and having fun, and I have launched and started businesses around the world – I know intimately what it takes to thrive in the modern world. Broad Mind Meditation is a tool that doesn’t take us away from the world, it helps us engage better with it, with increased clarity, creativity and resilience.
It’s a personal dream of mine to teach workshops with my life partner. Will you share some of the joys and challenges of being running The Broad Place with your partner/husband?
Arran and I are incredibly fortunate in that we never get sick of each other. I am VERY high energy, and he is very steady and somehow this works. We have very similar aesthetics and philosophy and ideas and so collaborating on absolutely everything became a very natural process for us. We had our agency together, the restaurant and then co-founded The Broad Place. It works as we have very different roles, I educate, Arran designs. Sometimes he’s too busy and I whip up some graphics, which I’m sure pisses him off as I am not as great a designer as he is, but he never says anything. It honestly works so well as he doesn’t criticise or be judgemental and he let’s me really experiment, its his biggest gift to me. I am working slowly on offering him the same hahaha.
Currently though, Arran desired to go work on a few of his own independent projects and has 7 restaurants he’s doing the creative direction for, I mean the guy is a machine. He also takes care of Marley in the afternoons and evenings when I teach. I don’t know how he does it. The only friction comes from my missing him as I’m used to being around him 24 hours a day, which I think was more fun for me than him to be honest! I think the respect we have for each other is the foundation of our relationship. I’ve never met anyone like him, and I aspire to be a little bit more like Arran every day.
For anyone trying to work together, I always say the relationship comes first. If push came to shove I would shut down everything, every single project, fold every book, anything it took, to maintain my wonderful relationship with Arran and our daughter Marley. We all know our priorities and at the end of the day, it’s all one big experiment, so we try not to take it so seriously. I think this is key, if the ‘business’ becomes the only thing, you’re relationship is dust.
What is the philosophy behind how take care of yourself?
The philosophy I embrace now is ‘whatever brings joy, do that’. The foundations though are that I meditate twice a day. I always try stretch and move my body. I try eat a croissant once a day, I absolutely love them and they make me so happy! I love my morning coffee. I love the mind body connection and disciplined art forms like karate.
I really focus these days on nourishing my mind and my soul. I read like crazy, listen to audio books and podcasts and talk ideas and philosophy with Arran and friends constantly. Taking care of myself is keeping inspired. How I eat shifts a lot, I go through dedicated Japanese stages, and we only eat Japanese food, then it’s Ayurvedic, then I throw all that out the window for a week and we got out for pizza, and have french baguettes and triple cream cheese in our backyard. I’m more confident now in just going with the flow, I went through a slightly manic ‘health’ phase where I became a yoga/nut milk/green juice/cacao junkie and everything was very restricted. Now I’m way more chilled out!
How do you practice forgiveness?
The first step for me is to forgive myself. Live many women, I can be self-critical which doesn’t help anyone let alone myself. So I am frequently giving myself a break, cutting myself some slack. Then I find that generosity and kindness radiates outwards. I am so much kinder and softer to everyone else. Every morning I remind myself that everyone is after fulfilment just like me, we are exactly the same, even if our ways of going about it are vastly different. It’s a good grounding for what can be mental days that lie ahead!
Share three books on your nightstand.
I read 1-2 books a week. But right now I am reading How To Cook Your Life by Zen Master Dogen, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan (I am terrible with history, so this is fascinating) and Who Would You Be Without Your Story by Byron Katie (Which is brilliant). Always by my bed though are Meditation by Marcus Aurelius and The Bhagavad Gita by Maharishi Mahesh Menon.
Best advice you have ever taken.
Best advice is ‘If you believe in your heart of hearts it’s what you want to do, just do it’. My favourite saying my friend Vashti always hammers into me is ‘Life isn’t what happens to you, it’s what happens for you’.
Tell us one thing you haven’t done yet that you really want to do.
Arran and I really want to live in Japan for an extended period of time, and I really wish to learn Japanese! Practising and studying karate in Okinawa (fluent Japanese being a prerequisite) is also a dream.
What are you most grateful for?
My creativity, I feel a constant sense of flowing creativity and it blows me away, I am forever grateful for it. Then of course Arran who has changed my entire life, and my daughter Marley, who is my constant teacher and inspiration. I’m also grateful for humour, I actually couldn’t live without it.