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Mindful Master Joyce Levy Talks Movement, Meditating, and Momming

Grounded, peaceful, and calm, Joyce, the Director of Mindful Movement at THE WELL and a lifelong Yogi, is a breath of fresh air. Dedicated to inspiring people to live their truest life and master well-being, she talks, movement, meditating, and momming on the daily. Plus, the importance of compassion, noteworthy tips to focus, and navigating the new normal with equal parts structure and ease.


WELLNESS IS?

Right now it means staying positive for my family and community, daily meditation and mindful movement, acting with compassion, and taking my vitamins.

LIFE IN QUARANTINE?

I am managing a balance of structure and flexibility. For example, our mornings are pretty structured. I wake up and the first thing I do is meditate. The kids often jump in my lap to let me know that my time is up. Then my older son and I draw together, we all read or play, have breakfast, get dressed, and go for a run by 8:30 am. This is the time we used to leave for school, so the consistency has helped us feel normal. On days that we miss the morning Vitamin D — we regret it. Then what follows is a spontaneous balance of meeting everyone’s needs.

At first, I was trying to make hour by hour agendas for everyone, but that was creating too much friction and force. So I loosened up. Every day we seem to pick up new methods and try new ways for living that work for everyone. And, we stay open to improving.

It feels like I am juggling too many balls in slow motion. Although, having an understanding team, and meditation practice have helped.

WHAT'S BEEN YOUR "NEW NORMAL" DAILY ROUTINE?

Meditate. Parent. Coffee. Run.
Home School. Email. Yoga. Sing.
Lunch. Parent. Cook. Meet.
Check out. Check-in. Break up a fight.
Write. Teach. Dance. Laugh.
Eat. Cheer. Bathe. Read.
Meet. Clean. Collapse. Pray.
Read. Love…

Not really in that order, but rather all at once.

HOW DO YOU FORESEE THIS PERIOD OF TIME IMPACTING YOURSELF?

I’ve been leaning on my meditation practice for decades, but this has taken my relationship to sit quietly and cultivate compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, and equanimity to a much deeper place. I feel the positive influence it’s having and I’m sure it will inform how I parent, lead, teach, and act for the rest of my life. I’ll also probably wash my hands for 20 seconds, make sure the next place I live in has outdoor space, and appreciate long hugs more.

LOVE RITUALS. WHAT ARE YOURS?

Meditation
As soon as the pandemic started taking over, friends and colleagues turned to me for what they could do to manage their anxiety. In response, I launched a daily meditation at 10:30 am on The Well’s Instagram live. Starting my day with this for the last 6 weeks, which has become an anchor. I begin with a drop of my favorite essential oil, the Rise Essential Oil Blend from THE WELL’s new self-care line, and then we do a breathing technique I call 3D breathing, which is an efficient way of embodying the present moment. Then we meditate.

Gratitude
My husband and I have also started a nightly ritual after reading to the kids and scratching their backs. We tell each other what we are grateful for. Specifically, I acknowledge his efforts, and he thanks me for mine. We started this because we were feeling frustrated with each other at the beginning of this ordeal. We were overlooking all of the things that each of us was doing. It’s far more effective and healthy to guide each other through gratitude than blame, but we have to consciously keep ahead of this.

Get Outside
I also think it’s important to not only have daily rituals but weekly ones. We may need to take out some of the things that we used to do daily, but can we still balance them weekly? Like every Saturday we go for a long hike and spend the whole day outside.


TELL US ABOUT THE WELL AND YOUR AMAZING ROLE THERE?

The Well is a complete ecosystem for wellness that recognizes both the benefits of Western medicine and the wisdom of Eastern healing. Our mission is to help people to take greater agency over their health. The Well started with a gorgeous 18,000 square foot club in the heart of NYC in the fall of 2019, and under the direction of our incredible founders and leadership team, we have now moved our offering online. I am the director of the Mindful Movement department and in addition to live classes daily, I am turning my focus now to building a library of curated content, opening up classes for people to be able to drop-in, and a weekly community class which can be accessed via our digital membership. (use code Joyce2020 to sign-up for your first month as a free trial, and then stick around at a reduced rate of $119/month!) Plus, Health Heroes working on the front lines can sign-up for a year free membership!

WHAT ARE SOME BENEFITS OF MEDITATING?

Scientifically, meditating can help to restore homeostasis in all of the systems of the body — especially the nervous system. It can reduce inflammation, and improve digestion, mental clarity, and sleep. Spiritually, focusing on gratitude leads to feeling fulfilled and generous; focusing on compassion leads to deep and meaningful relationships; focusing on space leads to patience; focusing on equanimity leads to absorption and feeling at one with the world. Focus is the gateway to meditation. So what we focus on affects the benefits we will experience.

TOP TIPS FOR MEDITATING, REFLECTING, AND BEING MORE PRESENT DAILY?

Enjoy meditating. Don’t fight with yourself. Decide you are going to do it, and then show up. Find some teachers you resonate with and take their classes regularly. Whatever arises when you are meditating: experience it. This holds true for life too. Don’t run from your life. Smell it. Taste it. Make eye contact with it. Go on your journey. Hold your thoughts, feelings, sensations, or emotions like they are a young child you are trying to get to know and guide. Meditating is not about stopping your thoughts. It is about practicing self-control to express yourself more sincerely. Meditation and journaling are a great team. Journaling reminds you to think your thoughts through and not just stop them. Stopping yourself mid-thought is a tool, but it isn’t the only tool you need. Meditation is an opportunity to get to know yourself without judgment, which leads to feeling more clear-headed and authentic. You can’t force a luminous mind, but you can find meditative practices that work for you and stick with them.

QUICKIE YOGA MOVES THAT ARE GOOD DURING THIS TIME OF STAGNATION?

Sun Salutations because they are rhythmic, breath-based, and will leave you feeling energized but calm. Seated poses because they are grounding, they open your hips and engage your core (bonus, you can do them while sitting on the floor and playing with your kids). Backbends because they are uplifting and they counter the postural pitfalls of sitting all day.

SOMETHING THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING?

Resonant breathing: inhale for 5-seconds and exhale for 5-seconds. Do this for 10-minutes. That’s 6 breaths per minute. So don't just take a deep breath, take 60.

FIVE THINGS YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT?

Breath, Nourishment, Hydration, Sunshine, Love.

A BOOK THAT CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.

LISTENING TO THESE DAYS?

It’s a mixed bag. I make a playlist every month of the songs that hit home or created a memory.

HAVE YOU FIGURED OUT? HAVE NOT?

I have figured out how to stay present, but I am working out how to plan for my future.

UNWIND AT THE END OF THE DAY?

Sometimes, we dance.

Always, I have a bedtime ritual of washing the day away, making chamomile tea, putting my phone on airplane mode, writing poetry, and reading something enlightening before I knock out the lights. I have suffered from insomnia so a bedtime routine is crucial for me. Sometimes this goes on for an hour, other nights I cycle through in a few minutes.

WORDS TO LIVE BY?

Trust yourself.

TELL US A SECRET?

Ha. I wrote a book of poetry called Revolving, and someday I’ll publish it. That’s where you’ll find my other secrets.

ANY ADVICE YOU CAN LEAVE US WITH?

We are designed to move. Find the ways that you like to move, and do it every day. Moving mindfully and meditating every day is one of the greatest ways you can take the reins on your own health.

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