After an overly productive yet ultimately chaotic year, Sydney based Jacqui Lewis realised her daily mediation practice was what enabled her to hold it together. Deciding to fully explore and study the practice of Vedic Mediation, Jacqui together with her husband Arran Russell created The Broad Place – a centre which sets out to foster a thoughtful, modern approach to mediation and conscious living.
Jacqui shares more about what happens at The Broad Place, what led to its creation and how mediation can enable us to think more creatively and dynamically.
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How do you describe The Broad Place to someone not familiar with it?
The Broad Place is a platform for education and wellbeing. I teach courses in Vedic Meditation and Arran my partner designs and produces a selection of product that support the non-negotiable parts of the day such meditation, feasting, relaxing, being inspired and more. We are taking a thoughtful approach to what conscious living means, with high quality experiences and products.
What planted the seed for this idea? What made you realise it was worth pursuing?
After practising the technique of Vedic Meditation for years, I decided to become a teacher. The turning point from being a student to a teacher came after a particularly grueling year of having too many balls in the air.
I was running my creative agency FOLKE with my husband Arran Russell, who also had fashion brand Vanishing Elephant. We work with brands like The Galeries, Laurent-Perrier, The Grounds, Audi Centre Sydney, Hendricks and a range of great Sydney hospitality venues. It’s a pumping agency that requires a lot of passion, and a lot of time. Simultaneously, we took over my family’s restaurant Pier, and flipped it into The Sailors Club, designing everything from the interiors, the branding, the uniforms, and working on liquor partnerships, staff acquisition, budgets. To top it off, our daughter was five at the time and in her first year of school.
To say it was chaos is an understatement. And the only thing that kept me going (that is, literally stopped me from having a nervous breakdown) throughout this time was my meditation practice. So I committed, and spent a year studying with Tim Brown, my incredible teacher, and doing some mentoring with Thom Knoles and became a qualified Vedic Meditation teacher and launch The Broad Place.
What was involved in seeing the project from concept to completion?
The education process, sourcing and then setting up The Broad Place as a studio, working out what we stood for and how we would be relevant, designing, sourcing and producing product (which we are still in the middle of) and creating the online platform in which to educate people on what we were doing.
Meditation is often thought of as a personal pursuit for solitary time. Why would somebody want to use or attend The Broad Place? Are the benefits within group mediation?
We view meditation is an experience that although while pleasant when you’re within meditation, is really a tool to bring the best of yourself to the world afterwards. A 20 minute investment of your time de-exciting your nervous system to be calmer, more grounded, make faster and wiser decisions and think more creatively and dynamically in the time you have after meditation. So it’s a short solitary pursuit that makes you better integrated within the world.
Group meditation is part of the course in Vedic Meditation but after that you’re really independently practising and can meditate anywhere, anytime whether alone or with someone. We offer weekly Group Meditation Meetings where students gather and meditate together and ask questions and we explore Vedic knowledge. The benefits are that you tend to have a deeper experience within a group, as it’s like you catch the slipstream of a group meditating together.
Is it true mediation is equivalent to having extra sleep?
It sure is, 20 minutes of Vedic Meditation is the equivalent of 2-3 hours sleep which mid afternoon you can imagine is a huge bonus!
What’s next on the cards for The Broad Place?
Launching the product which will happen in April/May, online and within The Broad Place. We have a few special dinners happening at The Broad Place this year, and lots of travel to teach around Australia, a product sourcing trip to Japan and a trip to Kerala India with a group of meditation students for Panchakarma; deep Ayurvedic cleansing of the body and mind.
What is one piece of advice you would give yourself if you could go back in time to the start of the process?
In regards to Vedic Meditation, I would have liked to have been more aware of how intense the education and training would have been! In regards to life, I would have liked to have in my earlier years accepted that it was all going to turn out ok, and inherently trusted that everything happens for a reason.
The Broad Place