Between the Democratic debates, California’s shaking tectonic plates, and the temperature clocking in at “brain scrambling”, we’ve been a little stressed to say the least. Luckily we got to sit down with all around beautiful human and queen of chill vibe city, Jessie May Wolfe. Through her HeartRise Method developed over years of research, Jessie May has found a way to make meditation accessible to those of us who suffer from what I believe is clinically known as “Tornado Brain”.
Within minutes of meeting Jessie May, it was clear to see why she’s been so successful in inspiring people with her unique approach. Her signature 4-Step Meditation Method has made her a sought after teacher in the wellness world. When not working with major companies like Amazon, Uber, Free People and WeWork promoting mindfulness within the corporate culture, Jessie May leads packed workshops at Soho House and the Den.
Can you tell us about your personal journey with meditation? How did you come to the practice initially?
Jessie May: I’ll start by saying that I definitely didn’t think I would be on this path. I didn’t grow up in a very spiritual home, but I was always a seeker. I was also very busy minded, entrepreneurial, on the go; a very “take the bull by the horns” kind of person. I never thought I would be someone who would be facilitating or developing a meditation method, just to put this all in context. In some ways meditation is seen as very one dimensional, but actually when I looked at all the ways I found serenity in my life, or cultivated a connection with myself, or found my creative flow through writing or being in nature, all those things had a meditative quality.
For as long as I can remember, I've had a desire to connect to something greater, but never quite knew how to do that beyond tapping into my personal creativity and being in nature. Now I see all of that as part of a meditative experience, but I was definitely not someone who could quiet my mind. Now I see all of that as part of a meditative experience, but I was definitely not someone who could quiet my mind.
I’ve always been curious about the human condition and the way we interact and engage. This curiosity led me to pursue a university degree in communications with a minor in film studies. Of course this came with a healthy dose of philosophy, anthropology, and sociology classes. It was Buddhism that piqued my interest in learning more about Eastern traditions and modalities including meditation. Even though I had done yoga from the age of twelve, I never thought traditional meditation was for me; sit and be still...not so much! Movement, dance, yoga, all those active paths were meditative for me, even though I wouldn’t have given it that label. My initial perceptions about meditation really caused a resistance. I just didn’t think it was for me.
I pursued entrepreneurial opportunities in photography, fashion, and marketing, at one point moving to London to work in graphic design and publishing. Upon returning to my hometown of Montreal, I launched a women's luxury knitwear collection, Jessie May, which I ran successfully for 6 years. Disenchanted by the rat race, I yearned for a way to help others connect with one another. Human connection was what I was craving. This kickstarted my new career in life coaching, and led me to study and train in various Eastern and Western practices. I just always had this desire to keep learning, even long after I graduated from university. I studied with Marianne Williamson for years, and she became a key mentor and advocate for my work. Another pivotal influence was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho which had themes of a meditative journey.
I started Soul Shine Coaching, which then led me to develop the HeartRise Method in 2012. In working as a coach with my clients, I started to see that they felt safe enough to open up with me, I was witnessing emotional breakthroughs and seeing major transformations in our work together. I shifted from working with clients privately to doing group work, and it was amazing to see people sharing in an open space. I became very drawn to group work, and started leading Friday night circles at my house. The HeartRise Movement really grew from there.
In terms of mind, body and spirit, what are the benefits of meditation?
Jessie May: Well, it’s funny that you say, “mind, body, spirit”, because one of the things I always challenge is that the heart gets left out of the equation. The heart is really the epicenter; in other practices you can quiet the mind, but the minute you stop your 20 minutes of that you’re right back to where you were before. That is precisely why I think the heart is so integral to recalibrate our whole sense of wellbeing. The goals with the HeartRise Method are emotional wellbeing, a sense of presence, calm, command, conviction, creativity, improved communication skills, focus, passion and radiance.
What are some misconceptions people have about meditation? What blocks do you come across when trying to teach this practice?
Jessie May: People think they don’t have time to meditate. We’re taught to revere “busy”, so the thought of creating space seems like a waste of time. There’s the discomfort of keeping still, the concern that you’re doing it “wrong”...all of that was true for me in a lot of ways. In bridging that, I realized that the head and heart have to work together to effectively meditate.
What is the HeartRise Method? What are the core pillars of your approach to meditation?
Jessie May: There are four steps to support taking someone from their busy mind (their “head trip” as I call it), to their heart power. It’s really a journey from head to heart. We tend to dismiss our heart as being unreliable, irrational or illogical, but this method is all about tuning into the intuitive wisdom of the heart. We’re not dismissing the brilliance of the mind, but the focus is to harness the intelligence of the heart that often gets overlooked.
1. With heart vision, I see:
All forms of meditation include witnessing and cultivating an energetic awareness. You may notice a trigger, maybe it’s an email from a person you’re dreading and you get that sinking feeling...instead of snapping to it with the head trip, you would bring it to your heart center. “Okay, this email came in...I’m aware that it’s triggering a negative reaction for me.” That’s the first step, just cultivating an awareness to be present and notice the things you want to attract or reject. Bring aware and present is the first step.
2. With heart focus, I feel:
What you’re doing here is tuning in to what you feel, for example, when you get that email that triggers you. We usually block it, stockpiling the fear or anxiety that’s been triggered. With practice and with breath, you feel what’s there instead of suppressing it.
3. With heart knowing, I free:
This step is about building the heart muscle, taking that contracted energy (pent up stress and anxiety) and releasing it. You’re repurposing feelings as freedom, transforming that blocked energy into purposeful knowing.
4. With heart wisdom, I flow:
This brings us back to our state of flow, tapping into our intuitive currency. You’re coming home to your natural guiding source; being present, listening, not driven by the ego, metabolizing that pent up negative energy and using it to your advantage.
Our thinking mind goes through 60,000-80,000 thoughts a day, but most of us get stuck looping through the same 3 or 4 thoughts over and over, wasting energy in this spin cycle. What this practice is doing is bringing an awareness to the heart center...instead of just trying to quiet the repetitive thoughts, we’re bringing attention to the breath and feeling it power your heartbeat. In igniting this heart fire and engine, you’re practicing a more engaged, active form of meditation. In my classes we will work through these steps together, usually focusing on a specific theme. It’s a guided experience, and then we wrap up as a group at the end. Too often we think that wellness and self care is a solo mission, but so much of your wellness exists in community.
Some of us (uh, specifically me) suffer from Tornado Brain. Meditation can be frustrating. Do you have any advice for those of us struggling to quiet the overactive mind?
Jessie May: What I would say is, start with someone who guides you, a good teacher you feel in tune with. Checking in with my podcast or going through the HeartRise course is a way to build a foundation for this practice.
I also recommend integrating the steps as part of a daily routine at the beginning or end of the day; it can be as simple as putting your hands on heart center for 2-3 minutes. The HeartRise reframe allows you to bring an awareness, shake yourself out of our automated patterns that don’t serve us, and makes spaces to invite curiosity and creativity in.
How has your practice carried over into other areas of your life?
Jessie May: It’s literally guided me in my decisions. Most people are head trippers and not heart leaders, it’s been a more challenging, but ultimately a more rewarding path. It’s given me the freedom to do what I’m doing; creating my company has all been through the conviction of the heart. It’s opened me up to different communities and enriched my life... I live it and breathe it. I get to practice it all the time, and ask myself, “How can I be more tender with myself?” Radiance is contagious.
Where can people learn more about the HeartRise Method and what you’re cooking up?
Jessie May: On my website there are links to my classes, online courses, my book, all my social media and my podcast High on Heart (new episodes dropping weekly on Sundays). To get you started, here’s one of my guided meditations (Jenn: this link is in our email, sent from Jessie and Ashley) We want to link to the website, book and course, classes, and all social media, including the High on Heart podcast (weekly on Sunday).
We love your approach and the passion you bring to sharing what you’ve learned with others. You’re a true soul sister and inspiring heart leader!
About Jessie May Wolfe:
Jessie May empowers teams of creatives, entrepreneurs and executives around the world using the integration of the HeartRise Method. Over the last decade she has activated HeartRise in cities globally, sharing the method with educational organizations + leading-edge companies, foundations and communities. Each program powerfully results in increased emotional intelligence, strategic problem solving, corporate communication, and leadership development. From Wellness to Tech, Travel, Advertising, Real Estate, Non Profit, and Education, HeartRise disrupts company culture offering a fresh take on heart powered leadership.
Jessie May is building bridges with the language of the heart.
HeartRise Movement is a universal call to ignite the radiant heartpower in all of us.