Devi Brown’s signature voice has captivated the radio and television airwaves from Los Angeles to New York for more than a decade. However, over the years while audiences were consuming her insightful interviews with everyone from Kendrick Lamar to Quincy Jones, they were also bearing witness to her second calling– connecting individuals to something deeper than themselves.
Highlights of Brown’s impressive career include hosting MTV talk show Hip Hop Pov, helping launch and co-host SiriusXM’s Sway in the Morning show, hosting and serving as Music Director for Los Angeles’ 93.5 KDAY, and most recently serving as Music Director and the #1 radio host for iHeartMedia’s, 93.7 The Beat in Houston, Texas. But in the midst of her steady ascension in the media industry, Brown had a moment of self-reflection that led her to the The Chopra Center in San Diego and ultimately changed her life forever.
Through years of self-inquiry and certification in Primordial Sound Meditation by The Chopra Center, Brown, who is an unapologetic hip-hop lover, vibrant millennial, and occasional TV show binge-watcher, learned that she didn’t have to sacrifice any of those distinctive qualities to reach her inner-self. Although her spiritual growth has been transformative, she didn’t have to transform who she was to access it. And neither do you.
This realization led her to become the founder of Karma Bliss, Brown’s new retail and self discovery brand created to “demystify the way we tell ourselves that spirituality is supposed to look.” Through meditation, crystals, vision boarding, and journaling, Brown is introducing millennials to a version of spirituality that doesn’t intimidate or boast, but instead one that meets them right where they are.
Her Agenda had the opportunity to talk to Brown, a Houston-based radio and television host, about Karma Bliss and why your spiritual growth is just as important as your professional growth.
Her Agenda: Oprah said recently, “Your intention always determines your outcome. And only the purest intentions work like velvet.” What was your intention when you began your spiritual journey?
Devi Brown: Well when I began my spiritual journey my intention was to be a happier person with less stress and more peace. I found myself so wrapped up in stress from work and life. Being someone relatively young and chasing their dreams, the level of anxiety I was feeling on a daily basis was really taking away from the quality of my life. I wanted to feel better everyday. I started to feel frustrated with the fact that I’m chasing my dreams but not happy, it didn’t make sense. You’re chasing your dreams, your destiny, your purpose, but you don’t feel good about it. And that led me to really just feeling very exhausted, very unenthusiastic.
I was getting the promotion and the gig that I’ve been wanting, why don’t I feel ecstatic about it? So my search initially led me to the Chopra Center in San Diego on a meditation retreat. And it was more of a detox. 10 days to decompress. I went there not really knowing what to think, I just knew that I needed something to happen. The first rule is no phone, no email for 10 days. So at this point I thought I was going to die, like what do you mean? I can’t answer my emails? I can’t answer my voicemails? But it was one of the best things I ever did to completely disconnect fully, across the board. Nothing, just me. That’s when I learned to meditate and where I first learned to get still, be quiet, and start journaling.
From then I knew this had to be a part of my everyday life. It changed me completely. And I feel like sometimes it’s almost silly the fact that it’s so revolutionary to just be quiet. Being quiet, just sitting still, is life changing. I started meditating every day, twice a day and I just started to notice that everything about my life just started to feel good.
Even if I’m stressed out, even if I didn’t get the thing that I was after, or things at home weren’t as great as I’d want them to be, I still felt peaceful. I still felt optimistic, I still felt really grateful. And that feeling was something I decided I needed to have in my life all the time and if I don’t get there, I need to at least strive for it everyday and that’s what started my journey.
Her Agenda: So when you first started, was it difficult to be consistent and maintain that practice?
Devi Brown: Actually, when I first started it was really easy to be consistent because I was seeing the effects right away and kind of in this zone. [I’d compare it to the feeling you have] when you [get] something new and you [need] to have it all the time, because you’re addicted to the feeling it gives you. Every chance I got I was meditating and feeling fulfilled. But when life starts to settle back in and the newness wears off that’s when it got a little bit hard to remain consistent.
When I got out of the honeymoon phase of my spiritual practice that’s when I had to become very deliberate about it. I had to plan my day to have things in it that reconnected me to that space, because it’s so easy, especially when you’re busy to get pulled away from that and into your regular routine. It’s really easy to get caught up in that and before you know it you’re just as unraveled and frazzled as you were before. And that’s even more of a tragedy because you actually have the tools, but you’re making the conscious choice to not utilize them when you need them.
So for me to keep a hold of this daily spiritual practice I have to be very, very deliberate about being consistent. I have to set alarms on my phone or I have to really value myself in every moment and say you know what “that phone call, can wait until tomorrow. Or I have 45 minutes before I go to sleep, let me not scroll, let me not answer emails. Let me not binge watch that episode I’ve been meaning to watch. It’s those kind of choices that set me up with the ability to be consistent with my practice.
Her Agenda: I know for me personally, it often feels like I have 100 tabs open in my brain and retaining focus takes a daily effort. How can women begin to close the tabs of distraction and really begin their spiritual journey?
Devi Brown: We have to start being more strategic with ourselves. I think that women are phenomenal beings in every way. We possess the ability to multi-task, to cater to other people’s needs, to heal the world and be great leaders. But we have to be as deliberate about ourselves as we are about our careers.
So in my career, I’m practicing, I’m reaching out, I’m setting myself up for different events and opportunities– that strategy is the same strategy I need to apply to me. We have to stop telling ourselves the lie that we don’t have time. We do it everyday just not for us. We do it everyday when we’re finishing that project for a boss, or we’re trying to get this start-up or business off the ground, or we’re helping a girlfriend trying to figure out how to best map out her goals. But we tell ourselves that we can’t do that for ourselves or our spirits, and it’s just not true.
Every time I find myself thinking that I do have too many tabs open, I have to remind myself of the true story, which is that I do this every day. Why would I give that strategic, mentally empowering part of myself only to work and not to myself? So break down what your goals are. Are your goals to be more fulfilled, to be happier, to tap into things that bring you joy that have nothing to do with work? If so, write that down, put that up.
We overthink it. When we decide to get real with ourselves we don’t have to go buy every LuLu Lemon item and sign up for a month of yoga in advance, that we’re not going to show up to. We have to figure out ways to show up for ourselves each day, no matter how small.
Her Agenda: It almost sounds like when someone decides “You know what, I put so much effort into my boss’ brand, or my company’s brand. I should start to refocus and think about my own brand.” That same thinking explains why you should put that effort into your spirituality, because it’s just as important. You’re putting that effort into so many other things and you’re forgetting about yourself in the process.
Devi Brown: And you know what it’s actually more important. Because when you’re in the flow with yourself and you’re aligned with who you are, you have peace and joy, then all the other synchronicities of life happen on their own. Like have you ever been in a situation where people want you on a project cause they just want you around? Like yea you’re talented a lot of people are, but they’re like “hey, something about you! It makes me feel better about life to have you around.” That’s you exuding your truer self! I feel like the more we do that—yes we still have to work hard and stay up on our game but the more we do that, things fall into place without you having to try so hard any way.
Her Agenda: The Karma Bliss motto is “a place for seekers.” I find that so many young busy women are seeking for peace. They’re juggling their careers, families, and personal goals, but struggling to fit spirituality into the mix, what would you tell them?
Devi Brown: I think for me, seeking is life. I know seeking is not just a phase I’m in, it’s a part of my life journey. I’m seeking to know more than what is plainly in front of me. When we open up to the attitude of being aware of all that we don’t know and the desire to just get to deeper layers it’s a continual thing, it’s not something that we’re going to arrive at [and it’s over]. I could meditate every day for 10 hours, but I’m never going to become the Dalai Lama. I’m not going to reach that level of enlightenment, but everyday I’m seeking to be better than the last. And I think that’s kind of the attitude that you have to have. Just starting. When I say sometimes that I meditate for 25 minutes twice a day some people are like “Oh there’s no way,” every single person says that. I said that too. Everybody thinks that they think too much to be able to do it, right? But it’s not about not thinking, it’s about making the commitment to yourself to be silent and to be still to allow the universe or whatever your belief system is to pour through you in those moments where you’re not trying to control it. So the first step to living a seeker’s life is to just sit still, be quiet and don’t peek at your phone. And every time you start thinking a thought, choose to release it and not obsess over it. That is literally the most simplest starting point possible for the lifestyle of a seeker. Sit still and be open.
Her Agenda: We’re so fast paced and we’re trying to do so much in 24 hours that being still seems like a very difficult thing to do.
Devi Brown: It does, but it’s not. We tell ourselves stories that talk us out of things. I think this is one of the biggest stories we tell ourselves, that there is no way to be still. If you manage to get lost on Instagram for 30 minutes, you have time to be still. Seriously. How much time do we lose to things that don’t grow us? The 15 minutes you spend checking your phone first thing in the morning, could’ve been used to meditate. If you’re on the train headed to work, you could close your eyes on the train—if it’s safe.
Sometimes my day is so chaotic that I know there’s no way when I get home, I’m going to be able to meditate when I get off work. So I decide to squeeze in time in the parking lot. I sit in my car and I turn on the air and I meditate in the car before I get home or before I get in traffic. We have to find the moments. You have to strategize your time better and find those 15 minutes somewhere in the day.
Her Agenda: And so it really begins with the language that we use everyday to tell ourselves what we can and can’t do?
Devi Brown: That’s the perfect way to put it. It really starts with the language. On a deeper level, it starts with the self-awareness. You know the thing I always tell people or that I tell myself is that it’s so easy to repost a meme on Instagram that says the right thing, but it’s a different thing to download it in our life. [A] way to love yourself is [through] self-knowledge. Self-knowledge means self-inquiry, asking yourself questions — asking yourself is this true? When you tell yourself “there’s no way I would ever have any time for this,” is that true? Let me change my language. Let me not say that to myself and live that. Once we start paying attention to those things and patterns, breaking those habits, and choosing new words in place of others, that’s when we’re able to really get on that seeker’s path and get consistent with whatever we want our practice to be.
Devi Brown: When I look to my journey and I think I always wanted to learn how to meditate for years. I remember as a kid being open to seeing it and wanting to know what it was but then talking myself out of it because I was too busy or think too much. And when I finally did it, I remember thinking how easy it was to get started. The starting point is not as hard as we tell ourselves it is. I wanted to share with people tangible tools to start. I wanted to demystify it.
When you see people who have peace or who just glow or radiate and you think, “how do they just have it all together? How do they have so much peace that they’re always optimistic?” We think that they climbed a mountain or they did something that we could never do. And what I really wanted with Karma Bliss is to demystify the way we tell ourselves that spirituality is supposed to look and give you the tools to start accessing it for yourself and create your own recipe. With Karma Bliss I just wanted to get people started, I wanted to encourage people to do the heavy lifting, to do that soul searching, to be very honest with themselves at all moments, even your weak moments. Be honest about the beautiful parts, the ugly parts, the painful parts– cause we all have them.
Devi Brown: Well for me crystals have incredible energy and I think when you kind of look at crystals it’s also another way to get close to nature. If you’re thinking “what is this hocus pocus?” It’s of the earth. God made the earth. Period. I personally think he left nuggets around for all of us to aid us on our journey. Crystals are millions of years old. So they have been on the earth long before we got here and I believe they carry energy. Everything holds energy. We hold energy. I love them because they’re beautiful, they remind me to be connected and centered to nature. But I also believe they harness that energy of the world, that energy that existed before we did, that energy that existed before technology, before half the storylines of this country came into play. To harness that energy is a gift. It’s believed that every crystal has a different vibration and a different frequency that it uses to help heighten your own energy and lead you toward more things that you’re trying to manifest.
Devi Brown: Journaling is such a powerful tool. Just like there’s power in the tongue, there’s power in the pen. Something about getting it out of you and somewhere else frees you in a lot of ways. We get so caught up in our heads and sometimes each of us could be going through things that we don’t ever necessarily want to say out loud, because to get it out of us means it’s real. Journaling is a way to release things that need to come out — good and bad, creatively, the positive, the more painful stuff. It is a way to aid you in your ability to release those things from your life and ultimately cultivate more peace.
It’s also a way to document yourself and keep note. It’s another way to strategize on yourself and help you grow yourself. Think about all the notes you make for work, do that for yourself too, but with more detail. A great way to even start that, if you don’t know where to begin, is to ask yourself what am I feeling right now in this moment? What is that tightness in my body? Why am I frustrated? Okay, so why did that thing bother you so much at work? The deeper we dig into our own thoughts, the more we can free ourselves from them. And I think journaling is such a great tool to start that dialogue.
Devi Brown: Gosh I don’t even know how to put that into one thing. I am deeply grateful for the courage to keep going everyday. The courage to keep going, I think sometimes it’s a long road to get there and once we’ve found it, it’s something that is in every facet of your life. Because the work is never done and we’re never going to be fully rid of obstacles, but I’m really thankful for the courage to keep going because it’s added so much peace to my life.
Gratitude is important because you can’t really live a full life without it. It doesn’t just mean to be thankful. It doesn’t just mean thank you God for giving me this or thank you whoever, gratitude is literally synonymous with the lifestyle of mindfulness. Gratitude is finding joy and peace even when things aren’t going your way, and definitely when they are. Gratitude is such an interchangeable word that goes right along with everything that mindfulness embodies.
[Editor’s note: This post was published December 5th 2016 and has been edited for length and clarity.]