By: Stephen Sokoler, Founder & CEO of Journey Meditation
Four years ago, I created Journey Meditation with the mission of helping all people live happier, healthier lives. We set out to build a supportive and inclusive community, both online and off. With the launch of Journey LIVE, the world's first live group meditation app, we are harnessing the power of human interaction to help us improve our lives, while feeling more connected to ourselves and each other. Our mission to improve lives is guided by five simple yet powerful principles:
1. We Are Better Together
With everything from curbing addictions to sticking with exercise plans, the support of others allows us to stay engaged and achieve more powerful results. Group accountability helps us to show up, and enables us to turn lofty ambitions into consistent routines. This has been proven by multiple research studies, which have shown that social encouragement helps people to more easily adopt and stick with healthy habits.
For thousands of years, all over the world, meditation has been practiced in communities. Those who are fortunate enough to live near a great teacher, or have the means to go on a retreat, understand the power that comes from sitting with people and practicing together. However, we don’t all have the ability - financially, geographically, or time-wise - to go to a teacher, studio, or retreat. At Journey, we are helping to solve this problem by providing access to a global community of world-class teachers and like-minded students. We offer live group classes right in the palm of your hand, and, for those times when you can’t make it to a live class, we’ve got you covered with recorded sessions.
2. There’s Power in Human Connection
By nature, we humans are highly social beings. We crave belonging and connection. Having others to share our emotions and experiences with allows us to live happier, more fulfilled lives. Feeling welcomed, supported, and understood by a community encourages us to improve our own lives, while growing together. The desire for self-improvement should not be an isolated pursuit, and by coming together, we can help each other to flourish, both individually and collectively.
Over the past four years, we've worked with a variety of communities, from teachers in Harlem and lawyers in London to doctors and nurses in the Bronx. After witnessing the power of people coming together to learn, connect, and grow, we asked ourselves: “How can we scale this transformative experience so everyone can access it?” By leveraging the power of human connection, Journey LIVE creates a space for collective growth and communal support, wherever you are in the world. Our classes are personal and interactive, with amazing teachers who greet you by name, and fellow students who help to co-create a meaningful and enriching experience.
3. Access Must Be Universal
An important aspect of feeling supported by a community is seeing yourself in that community. All of us deserve access to the tools for living a happier, healthier life - it should not be reserved just for those with social, financial, or institutional privilege. We, both individually and societally, cannot afford to consider mental and emotional wellbeing through a homogenous lens. Mental wellbeing is not a luxury, but rather a necessity for all of us to flourish. Therefore, we need to ensure that all cultures and communities are represented in our progress moving forward.
It’s crucial that people have the opportunity to learn from others with life experiences similar to their own. We feature inspirational teachers from around the world who understand how to teach profound topics in simple, approachable ways. These teachers hail from a diverse cross-section of cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds. The Journey team is proudly represented by over 50 percent teachers of color, which embodies our deeper commitment to mirroring the communities we serve. By reflecting our diverse world, we hope to also accentuate the common ground we share.
4. Technology Must Enhance Our Humanity
We live in an era where we’re highly connected, yet at the same time deeply disconnected. Our technology keeps us aware of every “like” or “tweet” but distances us from the authentic connection that comes from being with others. However, the phones aren’t the inherent problem. Technology can serve as a uniting tool when we engage with it in a way that nourishes us and helps us to authentically connect. We have a responsibility to acknowledge the impact that these products have on our lives, and our society is no longer served by simply embracing innovation for the sake of innovation. I’m a firm believer in the humane tech movement and their mission to promote ethical technology. We have to create tools that enhance the human experience and make people feel good about their place in the world.
With that in mind, it’s been fascinating to hear about the different ways that people are using Journey LIVE to bridge distances and show up for one another. An old college friend living in LA joins his senior parents living in South America for classes every morning. He’s said the experience has brought profound topics into their relationship that they never would have discussed otherwise. A marketing executive in New York shared that she closes the geographic gap with her girlfriends across the country by meeting nightly for Hector’s 10PM class. Other members of our community have shared that they don’t always have time to sit, but they’ll join a class anyway, just to listen and hear the questions while they cook or commute.
As humans, we desire to be part of something that feels familiar and good, and to share that experience with others. With Journey LIVE, we’re using technology to help people build and strengthen connections throughout their day.
5. Life Is About Waking Up, Not Calming Down
I love feeling calm. There’s nothing like taking a warm bath or snuggling under the covers on a cold winter night. But as humans, we can accomplish a state of being that is even more nourishing than tranquility. Today’s meditation apps market their ability to help us chill out, relax, calm down, or go to sleep. While these are helpful tools at times, there are enough substances and distractions in our modern world to help us numb or escape from our emotions.
Meditation is a tool for waking up, not going to sleep. We feel most alive when we’re embracing the full, messy range of emotions, from joy to sorrow. By cultivating a state of present-moment awareness, meditation allows us to fully immerse in the entirety of the human experience.
Our goal is to empower you to feel more alive. This transformation results from embracing and feeling a range of emotions, rather than trying to tame them. My favorite definition of meditation is the Tibetan word gom, which translates to “become familiar with.” As we become more familiar with our own thoughts, feelings, habits, and patterns, we’re more attuned to our lives, our communities, and our world. We have limited time on this planet, so let’s live our lives to the fullest - wide awake, and savoring every moment, whether ordinary or extraordinary.
Come Sit With Us
If these values resonate with you, come sit with us. No matter how Journey evolves over the years, these five principles will guide everything we do. We can achieve exceptional things with our lives when we’re more familiar with ourselves, and we’re stronger when we’re collectively working towards this greater purpose. We invite you to be fully present in this experience of life, moment by moment, as we work towards living our best lives, together.