Personal Growth

My Wellness Journey by Devi Brown, Chopra Global's Chief Impact Officer

Devi_2104I6A3387.jpg

Since childhood, curiosity about personal transformation and spirituality has always been at the core of who I am/my existence. Transformation, emotional resilience, the supernatural, and the effect of individual choice on the human collective fascinate me. I believe that so much of who we are, our innate skillsets, and even the longings and interests that we have were determined before we got to earth. In that regard, I know that so much of my connection to this work is—and always has been—above me. When you add in being an only child raised by a single mother in lower-middle-class environments, who for some years was a latchkey kid, you can begin to see how natural it was for me to begin to dissect and investigate the world and myself.

The Seeds Were Planted

Growing up all over Los Angeles county, access to glimpsing other cultures and belief systems was never out of reach. I didn’t, however, grow up in a home that practiced religion or well-being. We never, to the best of my recollection, spoke of any higher powers but I always felt drawn to that type of belief system. I remember briefly and vaguely hearing about meditation as a teenager and although it was many years before my first well-being experience, that kernel of knowledge planted a seed in my consciousness and a yearning for deeper knowledge.

As a child, I’d race home from school to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah was one of my earliest inspirations for what “enoughness,” purpose, joy, and majesty looked like. In my late teens and early 20s, I’d pick up spiritual books by T.D Jakes, Eckhart Tolle, and Deepak Chopra and listen to—what felt like at the time—insightful music. I attended talks and protests with like-minded people. At that point, I was very much in the intellectualization phase. At this stage in my life, everything sounded good but felt so far away and more like theory than active practice.

Focus on Career

By my mid-20s, I was deep into my entertainment broadcasting career and had already moved across the country twice by myself to work for top-tier media outlets. I was reaching career heights I had never imagined and was experiencing things many people had only dreamed of—parties, red carpets, celebrity interviews, ego, distractions. Before I knew it, I was disillusioned and stressed out. Nothing added up. Society told me that the career, the car, the man, and the home equaled success. But here I was with all of that and I felt completely unfulfilled. I was restless, depressed, navigating a stress-induced bout with shingles, and unfulfilled by my work. I needed more.

IMG_1120.jpeg

A major turning point for me came when a girlfriend mentioned I should do a detox vacation. I’ve always been very free-spirited and down to try anything without judgment or expectation. The next thing I knew, I found myself in Carlsbad, California, at a 10-day panchakarma at The Chopra Center. I went alone with no idea what to expect. The program had been at capacity but two days prior to the start, I got a call that someone had an emergency and couldn’t make it and that one spot had opened if I wanted it. It was meant to be. There, I learned primordial sound meditation and spent time savoring the seven spiritual laws of success. This experience lit a spark in me that changed every single thing about my life. I felt like I had new access to myself. I had glimpsed and tasted authentic peace and self-discovery. I knew that my life would be forever changed through this experience.

thumbnail_IMG_0601.jpg

Learning, Learning, and More Learning

The next few years were a blur of spiritual experiences, deeper learning in certification programs, personal growth, and a constant fluctuation between feeling light and inspiring, to dark and terrified. The journey is a constant, in-motion deepening. As your consciousness expands, your experiences expand and your ability to move with the flow of life expands. You change as you are ready and as you go. You don’t know or see how many changes have happened, or the rate at which you experienced them until they’re in hindsight.

At this point, beginning to meditate and study higher consciousness felt like enough. Then as challenges and obstacles present themselves, your heart stretches wider and you receive more knowledge and opportunity to become more. I returned to entertainment but knew my days there were numbered as I wanted to focus on nothing but higher consciousness. Engaging in small talk began to pain me. The work I was doing disinterested me. I was leaning more into stories of human connection than stories about celebrity.

Focus on Wellness

The decision to focus on wellness was very difficult at first, solely because of the unknown. Well-being and entrepreneurship hadn’t taken off in the way they have now, so I had no blueprint. At the time I was living in Texas and there was virtually no well-being lifestyle business that met my needs. My colleagues thought I had gone crazy and made jokes behind my back. My friends didn’t quite understand my vision, but they trusted my knowledge of self and my track record of making good choices for myself.

I was unsure what was to come but I was clear on what I was called to do and that this is the work I wanted to spend my life doing. I have always been someone who makes decisions based on my internal guidance so there was no fear associated with the choice, it was more so the anxiety of being something I had never been before. I wouldn’t say I lost anything, but I was being refined and needed more of my time for myself, which can be isolating. Also, going from working in a corporate setting to working alone is a jarring change of pace.

The Teacher Will Appear

Something that I’m always in awe of regarding a spiritual journey is how true this saying is: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” At every juncture on the path of spirituality and life I was walking on, the perfect teacher would be reveled at the exact moment I was ready for more. Sometimes that teacher was a person or a guru, but mostly the teacher was a perception-altering conversation, a shift in consciousness, the investigation of a wound, a book, a recommendation, an event, a challenge I was facing, or an opportunity to rise.

When I was in the thick of my process, I did not know what all of this knowledge and training would turn into. I was still working pretty relentlessly in the entertainment industry, but after spending so many years as the only millennial Black woman at every wellness retreat or education program, I knew that I was being called to share my process and understandings with my community. I felt so proud to share. However, I didn’t always have the depth of healing language to express myself in a way that was relatable. I wanted this work to connect with people for their highest good, but it took time to discover my own divine translations for what I knew to work.

Sharing Wellness Tools

When people started calling my radio show asking me what meditation was and why I always seemed like I had so much peace, instead of requesting that I play the latest hit song, I knew that it was time to transition fully into a new version of myself and teach. This all took place right before the “big bang” in wellness happened. There was no “find your tribe” or “Black girl magic” anything. No wellness Instagram pages. No #MeToo movement, mental health awareness, or social justice initiatives to raise our collective consciousness. Outside of trendy yoga classes, this lifestyle was in the shadows, especially if you were non-white and not living in the trendy parts of Los Angeles or New York.

I wanted to share the tools that had been working for me. It started with my website karmabliss.com (my self-discovery and ritual company) and my Instagram where I would blog, play singing bowls on video, share quotes, and sell crystals. I wove this work into my radio show and TV news segments. Then, I expanded to hosting meditation events, started writing a book, and sold my products in a big box department store. Even with the early success, I still felt like I wasn’t reaching the audience I was after as quickly or as easily as I had hoped. I was engaged in trial and error and waited for the world and the internet to catch up.

Wellness Career Launched

Leaving the only career I had ever known was a big decision, but it never felt hard. I always felt guided by my spirit and trusted that I was being led to this choice for a reason. When starting Karma Bliss and writing my book Crystal Bliss, I was literally called crazy by all my peers. People joked behind my back that I left my life to “go play with rocks” (crystals); no one in my orbit seemed to have any understanding of this world and zero desire to heal in the way we experience it now. I would hold meditation meetups at the park or local businesses and try to infuse teachings of higher consciousness while doing an awards show interview. Though interest barely trickled in at the start, the response I was starting to get from being of service to women of color through wellness was all I needed to keep pushing to create space for us in this industry.

Representation

For me, this lifestyle was easy to learn and apply once I opened myself to it. So much of this works takes a deliberate unlearning of society’s capitalistic lens, sexist lens, and an awareness of the role trauma, family enmeshment, and systemic racism plays in our day-to-day lives and in the way we feel about ourselves. I never felt intimidated, but I did feel overwhelmed. In the beginning, it seemed like there were just so many things to know—so many ancient mazes to walk through.

Being in this space as a woman of color felt isolating. At times it was frustrating, and I felt defeated. I had a lot to share but I was also still learning. A big part of doing this work as a woman of color who was passionately looking to serve women of color was understanding our barriers to healing and why so much of this work was so foreign to our communities before I could gain a comprehensive understanding of my broader mission and embody the role of teacher.

Though we still have a way to go, gratefully, we see representation everywhere. Larger brands are amplifying new voices; inclusivity and democratization are frequently used terms. Expansive conversations are being had around the impact intergenerational trauma, systemic racism, and economic disparity have on access to healing for the Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) community.

On a human level, I think I never fathomed it. But at the same time, on a soul level, I have always been aware that anything is possible at any moment for me—all in service to my highest good. I feel equipped and deeply grateful for this moment in my life and spiritual journey. I have arrived in perfect timing for the gifts I have, the work I’ve embodied, and the knowledge I have amassed. I feel excited!

thumbnail_IMG_6952.jpg

What’s Next?

We all have the basic human right to healing, happiness, and wholeness. My desire is to make this understanding and work available to everyone. There is nothing in this world like a Chopra retreat. I hope everyone gets an opportunity to attend one just like I did. I want more people certified in this work. More sub-communities started. More well-being businesses started. I want people to see me and know they have a right to take up space in any industry and at any table. That they can radiate love, trust the universe, and experience joy and purpose in all moments.

My heart’s deepest desire is to see schools and companies implement programs with tangible healing tools:

  • For mind, body, and spirit well-being
  • For barriers to healing for POC to be dismantled
  • For BIPOC to flood these retreats, certification programs, and start well-being businesses in their communities

I know that I am living in my life’s purpose now, but also in retrospect, I have never not been living it. Your life and your purpose expand as your consciousness and heart space expands. We experience our lives in the ways we experience ourselves.