Live Consciously, Mindfulness & Meditation

Meditation Guru Jesse Israel Loves Green Juice, Cheeseburgers, and Singing Loudly

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By Emma Stessman

Meditation isn’t the most social activity. Generally, you practice it alone—before bed to quiet a manic mind or in the office to de-stress during the workday.

Not, say, in an arena surrounded by thousands of people. But Jesse Israel wants to change that.

Israel founded The Big Quiet, a mass meditation movement that gathers crowds of like-minded individuals to meditate together in places the practice has likely never been before. Think: Madison Square Garden, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The result is a shared meditative experience unlike any other.

But becoming a meditation guru wasn’t always his goal. As a sophomore at NYU, Israel co-founded record label Cantora Records and signed MGMT, an up-and-coming group at the time. He stayed in the industry for nearly a decade before the job caught up with him; he started meditation to cope with the anxiety and panic attacks he had developed in the high-stress role.

Today, Israel incorporates his musical background into the meditations. At every session of The Big Quiet, attendees can expect sound meditations, vocal toning, and even surprise performers. (Miguel and Arcade Fire have stopped by to sing at past events.)

Plus, some of his own healthy habits can get pretty loud––and even a little weird. “[I sing] strange sounds at the top of my lungs while I play my Shruti box (an accordion-like instrument from India),” Israel says. “It’s incredible how energizing and heart-opening it is, although my neighbors 100 percent think I’m a full freak.”

Outside of meditation, he has some pretty enviable self-care practices and a great reason for skipping barre class. More on his Nutritious Life, below.

Jesse Israel

How Does Jesse Israel Live a Nutritious Life?

If you had to name your healthy diet, what would you call it? Why? The balancing act. Because I love green juice and cheeseburgers.

Your go-to breakfast? Scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, avo.

Your go-to workday lunch? A warm salad from Sweetgreen.

RELATED: The Rules of a Perfect Salad, According to a Sweetgreen Founder

Your go-to workday dinner? Warm veggies, meat, and a great sauce.

What’s the one food you always have in your fridge? Almond butter.

What’s the one food you’d never buy? Cottage cheese.

The snack you always have with you when traveling? Kind bars.

What do you eat before and after a workout? Before: banana or a handful of almonds. After: plant protein smoothie with almond butter.

RELATED: 5 Simple, Delicious Smoothies for Fall and Winter

Your favorite food indulgence? HARD TACOS FROM TACO BELL.

Other than water, what do you sip regularly? I love flavored sparkling water, ideally tangerine.

How often do you exercise, and what’s your workout of choice? Three to four times per week––weight lifting and yoga.

Which workout would you NEVER do? Barre is way too tough on my butt cheeks.

How do you stay active outside the gym? I love riding my bike.

What’s your go-to tool for managing stress? Meditation.

RELATED: 5 Incredible, Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation

How do you pamper yourself when you need it? It starts with an acupuncture session, then I walk over to my favorite reflexology massage spot, then I cruise home for a lavender Epsom salt bath, jump into my robe (gold insignia reads “Jesse” in cursive), put on a podcast, light candles, and turn wifi and cell service off.

How do you express and spread love? By acknowledging the things I see in people that make them shine.

What does it mean to you to “live consciously”? To be committed to enhancing and refining my awareness, so I can make decisions that best serve me, others, and the planet.

Which healthy habit do you wish you had more time for? Cooking.

Lightning Round

Meditation or massage? THIS IS SO HARD WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME.

A hot shower or a soothing bath? BATH.

Almond butter or peanut butter? ALMOND BABY!

Coffee or tea? Tea (unless I’m in Europe).

A long run outside or a dark spin class? Outside jog.

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