Over the years, Jesse Israel has learned what it means to unwind and clear your mind. In his younger years as a student at NYU, he was living the ultimate young-twenty-something in NYC lifestyle: running a record label out of his college dorm room, signing bands and growing the label from the ground up, partying, maintaining a social life… you know how it goes. It’s all about the hustle, right?
Eventually, though, Jesse realized that with that lifestyle came a whole lot of stress, anxiety, and burnout. He found himself experiencing intense and frequent panic attacks at 23, made even worse by the idea that he felt he couldn’t speak about what he was feeling openly.
“I started to get pretty burnt out when I was 23. Really fried, having panic attacks, and I didn't really feel like it was something I could talk about. In the music industry we definitely weren't talking about mental health.” - Jesse Israel
After experiencing the burn out that came with the lifestyle he was living, he decided to take matters into his own hands and gain some control over his mental health. He worked to find resources, tools, and techniques that could help him on his journey to improve his mental health and eventually left the music industry several years later after finding comfort in meditation. After realizing what meditation was doing for him on a personal level, he decided that he wanted to share what he was learning with others and started leading group meditations with his friends across New York. Eventually, he moved on to founding The Big Quiet -- an organization that hosts mass guided meditations at iconic locations like Madison Square Garden and atop the World Trade Center. Through this lifestyle change, Jesse has found that the power of meditation can be incredibly strong. He wants to share these powerful tools with others and works to spread his message through group guided meditation, public speaking, and workshops.
Following this theme, Jesse joined Norby for Season 1 of Creators Who Share for a webinar where he shared some of his expertise and best practices for getting your mental health right. If ya missed it, don’t fret. Read on for some key insights from Jesse’s Creators Who Share webinar and how you can make clearing your mind an everyday practice.
To navigate this crazy life, sometimes instruction and direction is necessary. No, life definitely doesn’t come with an instruction manual, but Jesse’s magic formula is a great guide for navigating the crazy world we all live in. The formula is simple, yet effective:
Don’t worry, I’m pretty bad at math too, so here is Jesse’s breakdown.
“Self practices are the things that we can do to take care of the self. This is such a big one for me. Meditation, slowing down, creating quiet, rest, the way that we speak to ourselves, the way that we treat ourselves, the way that we take care of ourselves. Social practice can be being in community, showing up with friends, with family, with our coworkers or colleagues, being of service, feeling like we're contributing to something beyond just ourselves. When we're able to find that dialed in balance of self practice and social practice -- taking care of ourselves and feeling like we're contributing and playing a role in community and something greater than ourselves ... This is when we, as humans, become our most powerful.” - Jesse Israel
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the small, daily stresses of life. Things that may seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things have the power to overwhelm and stress us out beyond belief, and when our bodies feel stress, the automatic response is to go into fight or flight mode. Being in this state of mind takes a real toll on your body. When you think about it, is it really necessary to be in fight or flight when your life isn’t actually in danger? Jesse spoke on the nuances of daily stressors and what being absorbed by them does to your body.
“When we see a rude comment on social media, when we're sitting in an Uber and we're stuck in traffic and everyone's just blowing their horns at us and we can't get anywhere. When we get in an argument with a partner… the various things that occur in our lives that shape our lives, and create stress in our lives, but are very rarely actually life threatening. This is true for a lot of what we're experiencing in our media and in our news as well. So the body thinks that it is protecting us by turning on the stress response, but these are not actually life threatening things. So we experience a lot of unnecessary stress in the body. And as stress builds up, and as the fight or flight response gets triggered constantly like it does for so many of us, it starts to really fatigue our system. It starts to create a real burden for the body and for the mind. And when we experience lots of stress, the body can't handle it and it starts to break down.” - Jesse Israel
Sometimes, the techniques you use to overcome stress in your life can be as simple as taking a breath. Jesse believes that taking those few moments for yourself to focus on you and you only can do wonders.
“Five big breaths. Super simple. Do this at moments where you just feel that heightened intensity, that heightened stress or anxiety that may be coming up for you. You can do this by yourself or you can do this with other people. But it's a really simple practice. It just gives your nervous system a reboot, and brings it right back to a balance point. So the way it works is pretty simple: it's breathing in for five seconds. And then breathing out for five seconds, and doing it five times.” - Jesse Israel
Jesse has a strong belief that connection is essential to balancing your mental health. As much as the breathwork exercises above can be helpful in certain moments, human connection makes you feel...well… connected. It makes you feel like a part of something outside of yourself. Jesse made a few key points about feeling connected to others and the benefits this can have on your mental health.
“What I've grown to see is that the thing that I believe we actually yearn for most as humans, is connection with other people. And especially in this day and age, when we have been so isolated from each other, we yearn for it even more. Now, in this day and age, it's, I think, very easy to feel like we don't have a tribe, like we don't have people that we can give to, contribute to, feel seen by, feel supported by. And I think for so many of us (and I have felt this many times in my life) that it can create a sense of something's missing. And I think that a lot of times this can lead to some of that stress, some of that anxiety, and that loneliness that we feel. So in my work, I'm really interested in ways that we can, from our own siloed lives, create little moments, sensations, of community togetherness.” - Jesse Israel
Jesse is a firm believer in major tech reduction breaks. Without even realizing it, we spend hours each day invested in our phones and social media. Texting, taking calls, scrolling Instagram, Tiktok and Twitter, all the things. While these tools are a major piece of our lives these days, that doesn’t mean everyone doesn’t need a break. Jesse goes as far as turning off all of his notifications aside from incoming calls. He also goes into airplane mode when he goes to sleep to avoid anything disrupting his resting time. While that may seem like an impossible feat to some, it has really helped Jesse in terms of his mental health.
“I think that so much of creating healthy social practices in our lives also has to do with how we can create healthier relationships with our technology. We are not really trained or taught at any point in our lives to understand how to use our devices, these things, these little glass computers that we all have. So I think it's really important that we, while understanding how much overwhelming stress our bodies experience, can create some guidelines for ourselves and some boundaries for how we use these devices. And in doing so we create a healthier social dynamic.” - Jesse Israel
Feeling zen’d out after all those tips and tricks? Yeah, me too. It’s easy to deprioritize your mental health when there can be so much pressure to do the most. Taking time to assess where you are at mentally and taking necessary steps to better your mental health can be one of the most rewarding forms of self care. Mental health is wealth, after all... and Jesse is all about spreading that wealth. Be sure to check out creatorswhoshare.norby.live for more information on Jesse, The Big Quiet, and more Creators Who Share Szn 1 content.