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 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.
Links to various non-Aetna sites are provided for your convenience only. Aetna Inc. and its subsidiary companies are not responsible or liable for the content, accuracy, or privacy practices of linked sites, or for products or services described on these sites.