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Meditate with Kevin and Nikki: the ‘zen-trepreneurs’ helping overworked urbanites
Fri 24 June 2016 - 11:13 amEntrepreneur | Featured | Profiles
Society is moving at such a rapid pace that striking a healthy work-life balance seems increasingly impossible. We’re expected to wear multiple hats, juggle competing deadlines and deliver immediate results – yesterday. Meet Centred Meditation’s Kevin and Nikki Jankelowitz, the husband-and-wife team helping workers tame the chaos.
Launched in June 2015, Centred Meditation is billed as Australia’s first guided meditation drop-in studio. Situated in the heart of Sydney’s CBD, just minutes away from Martin Place train station, the studio is a sanctuary for time-poor urban professionals wearied by the excessive demands of modern work life.
With its subdued lighting, natural sounds, soothing scents, freshly brewed tea and comfortable armchairs (decked out with cushions and blankets), the studio has been designed as a dignified and tranquil setting that enables clients to readily de-stress and recharge.
Meditation sessions are 30 minutes in length and conveniently scheduled throughout the day, granting clients the time and freedom to boost their confidence, clarity and calm without falling behind with their work schedules. Co-founders Kevin and Nikki, the ‘Chief Meditation Officer’ and ‘Marketing Guru’ respectively, are the session facilitators along with Nadya Peshevska and Kieran Toohey.
Repairing the body and mind
“Let’s face it – life is stressful,” Kevin admitted to Dynamic Business. “Stress leads to poor decisions and discontent as well as depression and anxiety. It’s also a risk factor for cancer, coronary heart diseases, diabetes, poor memory, hypertension and back pain.
“Countless studies support the role regular meditation and mindfulness play in reducing stress, enhancing productivity, protecting health and wellbeing, and unleashing creativity. We ensure that everything we preach at Centred Meditation is always backed up by the latest science.
“We also understand that when a client walks through our doors, it’s likely their minds will be particularly wired. Fusing breathwork, visualization and effortless awareness, with the use of sound or breath as an anchor, our meditation sequences take someone from their heightened state of awareness, step-by-step, to a de-excited place where their body and mind can begin to repair.”
A life-changing experience
Prior to taking up meditation themselves, Kevin and Nikki both led stressful lives. Kevin’s high-pressure job meant he was always on-call. As a consequence of frequent late-night calls to address work crises, he was plagued by sweat-inducing nightmares three to four times a week. Meanwhile, during her final year of psychology at university, Nikki’s health took a hit as she came under intense pressure to secure the grades necessary to continue on to postgrad studies.
Desperate for relief from life’s stresses, Kevin and Nikki decided to give meditation a shot, wary of its efficacy. To their surprise, the benefits took hold almost immediately.
“Improvements were evident in all aspects of our lives – health, relationships, study and work,” Nikki said. “We became more productive with less mental and emotional energy expenditure, and our threshold for stress increased tenfold. We began sleeping better, getting triggered less, and feeling happier and more confident.”
Having experienced, first-hand, the effects of meditation, Kevin and Nikki quit their jobs in 2013 and embarked on a sabbatical.
“We spent eight months travelling, mostly through South Asia (Nepal, India and Sri Lanka), delving deeper into the philosophical side of meditation,” Kevin said. “Living in Ashrams, attending courses and meditating at silent retreats, we came to understand, quite profoundly, the relevance of meditation in the modern world. Upon our return, we made it our mission to make meditation accessible to the most highly-stressed of our society by eliminating barriers to entry.”
Surprising the skeptics
According to Kevin and Nikki, Centred Meditation has been popular with bankers, lawyers and other corporate types. The studio also works with organisations, including major banks, law firms, tech and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, and recruitment agencies to facilitate guided meditation sessions, tailored to their workforces and workplaces.
Crucially, Centred Meditation has had success transforming meditation skeptics into converts with an accessible style of the ancient practice that’s not associated with any spiritual path or religious order
“It’s generally easy to spot the skeptics,” Nikki told Dynamic Business. “They come through our doors every week. Sometimes, meditation has been recommended to them by their GP – for example, to manage their blood pressure. Other times, they’ve been dragged along by a loved one or work colleague. Fortunately, they tend to sing a different tune following a 30-minute meditation sequence. Kevin and I have had people tell us, ‘Wow, that was amazing and not at all what I expected. I feel so calm now’. Even better is when someone comes back the very next day and reports having had the best sleep in recent memory.”
A modern necessity
A challenge Kevin and Nikki continue to face is helping people to understand that meditation is not a mere luxury.
“I believe it’s a necessity in this day and age,” Nikki said. “People often rely on meditation for reactive relief when burn-out has already occurred rather than as a pro-active strategy to prevent it from happening in the first place. As the effects of meditation are cumulative, by incorporating meditation into our regular wellbeing routine we can learn to bust stress and boost productivity in a sustainable way, gaining more confidence, clarity, and calm in the process. The world would be a better place if everyone learned to manage stress inputs more effectively.”
Kevin and Nikki have spent the last year refining their offering. While they’re happy with the progress they’ve made, they are now looking to expand.
“From a business perspective, we honestly aren’t 100% certain how this will look,” Kevin said. “It’s exciting that there are so many avenues open to us. Ultimately we will let our vision and core values lead the way.”
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