Nestled at the foot of Jesse Israel’s bed in his Brooklyn apartment is a meditation cushion and a clock. Upon rising every morning, the 32-year-old Los Angeles native spends 20 minutes there, clearing his mind. But Israel does much more than practice meditation. As founder of the New York-based Medi Club, he's built a life around it. His meditation movement — which he started at the end of 2014 — brings together people from all walks of life.
The goal is the same whether he’s sitting with 10 people in a small apartment at a Medi Circle or joining 1,000 at the World Trade Center observatory for a quarterly Big Quiet gathering: to stay connected and make meditation a regular part of life. Even though he’s in the business of being centered, Israel still struggles to find work-life balance. So what does his average day look like, and how does he work toward achieving his own health goals?
7:30 a.m. I wake up every morning and stretch using a foam roller. Then I meditate for 20 to 30 minutes. On a good day, I still haven’t checked my phone at this point. I leave it charging outside of my bedroom, which has been a game changer for me for the past several years. I practice Vedic meditation, where you use a mantra, a sound that allows the mind to settle. It’s not a word that has any meaning — you never spell it, you never say it out loud. But it has a sacredness to it. So when I meditate, I'm just very gently thinking my mantra.
9 a.m. For breakfast, I grab a green juice or Acai bowl with granola on my way to the office. I like to get green juices that are mainly just vegetables, not the sweet ones with lots of sugar. If I make a smoothie, I like to put in almond butter and protein powder, different fruits and chia seeds and maca powder.
9:45 a.m. I have a daily meeting at our Brooklyn office, which is a 15-minute walk from my apartment. It's an accountability meeting where we go over the things that we want to tackle that day. Then from 10 to 1, I don't take any phone calls or meetings. I just use that time to focus on my top tasks and important emails.
1 p.m. I never eat at my desk. My roommate and co-worker Lauren and I encourage each other to leave the office to eat, no matter how busy we are. I usually have a lunch meeting with a work colleague or friend. I use a program called Calendly.com that lets people know the slots when I am available.
3:30 p.m. Today I have a session with my mentor to look at my top priorities. Because I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed and drained by all of my work-related events.
6 p.m. I meditate again in the late afternoon for about 30 minutes. I'll either book a little conference room or find an area where I can sit. I don't meditate at my desk. After I wrap up, I'll do a couple of final things before I leave the office.
7 p.m. Right now, I exercise 4 to 5 times a week. I go to the gym underneath my office to use the cardio machines or take a yoga class. I also like to swim at the public pool across the street.
8:30 p.m. I’m usually out late attending work events. One thing I'm trying to do is take more nights off, which I put in my calendar as “J time,” or me time. Those nights are the best, but I’m only able to do them once a month right now. When I am home, I love ordering in Mexican food. I don't cook.
11 p.m. Ideally, I'm in bed before 11. But most of the time I'm asleep around 12:30. My work is inherently social, so I find that when I get home I like to have at least an hour to just mess around before I go to sleep. I'll clean the apartment, talk to my roommates, and finally answer messages from my annoyed friends. I'm sort of peculiar with email. That’s why I set guidelines and times to react -- or don’t react -- to messages, allowing me more time to do other things.
Finding balance is still a work in progress for Israel. But he realizes that staying disciplined and making time for himself helps him to achieve his goals.
Christina Joseph Robinson is a veteran editor and writer from New Jersey who still loves to read the old-fashioned newspaper. She’s raising two fruit-and-veggie loving daughters to balance all the treats Grandma sends their way. Christina’s health goal is to resume her workout routine after being sidelined by injuries.
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