360 Degrees of Wellness: Meet Devi Brown, Founder of Karma Bliss
Welcome to our newest series, 360 Degrees of Wellness. I founded the WELL brand back in 2014 on the belief that wellness should be a 360-degree conversation. Wellness isn’t just what the number on the scale says, but what you put on your body (hello, getting hives from skincare products), the company you keep and the thoughts you feed yourself. Living well is not just what you eat—it’s also about how you talk to yourself; it’s how you nourish your mind and soul. It’s about the consumer choices you make, the effect they have on others and the planet. It’s about the work you do and environment you spend your time in. All of it is connected.
In this series, I’ll be interviewing wellness luminaries on what wellness means to them and how they practice it in their daily lives. Wellness is well-rounded, a 360-degree perspective in our lives, and we want to encourage our community to lean into what they’re already doing, as well as give them tips on being WELL. So, without further ado, here’s our first interview!
Devi Brown (formerly Devi Dev) is a communicator on a mission to connect people with the worlds inside, and outside, of themselves. She’s spent more than a decade hosting radio and television shows from coast-to-coast. Today, through radio, TV, podcasting and workshops, speaking opportunities and her company, Karma Bliss, Devi is connecting women with tools for personal advancement that are relevant and beneficial to their lives. What I love about her is her genuine openness. She’s willing to talk about all aspects of wellness and she’s authentic and thoughtful. Plus, she’s been in the thick of it: She found herself struggling with stress-induced burnout, and she figured out not only how to make a change to help herself heal, but also to bring others along on her journey. Plus, she’s Gwyneth-approved. Here’s Devi.
Meet Devi Brown, Speaker, Author and Founder of Karma Bliss
What does workplace wellness look like for you as an entrepreneur with a line, Karma Bliss, that can be found at Nordstrom?
The biggest hurdle on my entrepreneurial journey has been creating structure for my work day. My workplace wellness has been me diving into unlearning the corporate model of a work day that I spent my adult life adhering to, and trusting my process. I’ve found that working in clusters of time throughout the day (2 hours here, 4 hours there) has helped me stay creative and provided a great work-life balance. It’s been a true blessing to be able to create work structure around my one-year-old son and my intuition.
Can you share with us the story of how you came to realize you were experiencing stress-induced burnout? What did you do to recover?
I got shingles in my mid 20s (something that typically you’d never experience until your 70s) and my doctor said it was 100 percent due to stress. Also, I realized that as I was hitting milestones in my career and they weren’t giving me the feeling of fulfillment that society tells you making money or gaining popularity will; if anything it made me less grateful for the present and I was instantly focused on the next achievement.
All the extra time I had was centered around feeding my career or the relationships with people in my life. That’s a beast that will never be satisfied. Living like that is not sustainable and, moreover, it doesn’t provide true long-term success of any kind. I knew I needed to start inserting more things into my lifestyle that would help me access more facets of who I was and become more in tune with my deepest, most authentic self. The part of me that was valuable no matter what perceived success I had.
You’ve become a bit of an icon for Black millenials looking to embrace spirituality outside long-held cultural norms. How do marry some of your traditional beliefs in God with the spirituality of meditation, crystals and the like?
First, THANK YOU. The thought that me working towards being the highest version of my true self extends permission for another to do the same is extremely beautiful. I find truth and beauty in many different belief systems and rituals from all over the world and I don’t think you need a middle man to access God or to love yourself. Also, I don’t need validation from anyone to know the right way to tap into my connection with God/my spirituality. In turn, I also don’t need to prove to anyone else that what they’re doing is wrong. Whatever works for you is enough.
We are all just doing the best we can based on our life experience thus far. I personally find a lot of religious institutions and doctrine to be very egocentric in nature, and more about lifestyle and perception than building a true relationship with a sacred power or healing yourself. Some strictly followed traditional practices don’t necessarily want you to gather tools for radical change, or want you too tapped into your personal connection with God and self because it would change the centuries-old structures, power and revenue streams that have been in place. I believe that to know God is to know that he has the ability to speak to you directly and to see things he puts in your path are ultimately meant for you to grow, love and seek.
What wellness products are you obsessed with?
A Focus on 360-Degree Wellness
What does 360 wellness mean to you?
It means giving my life my personal best in each moment. Making good choices that are serving to me and those connected to me. Moving and stretching my body. Mindfully eating. Facing challenges with curiosity and openness. Finding ways to be of service. Being kind and compassionate to myself and others. Calling out my own bullshit. Setting boundaries. Saying “no.” And finding, creating and celebrating tiny & big moments of joy in my day to day life.
What’s your favorite way to move your body?
Pilates! Pilates has been a GAME CHANGER for me since I had my son, Quest. I love the way it lengthens and leans your body as well as the way each moment challenges you to deepen your connection with your own body.
What’s your money mantra?
Make money, but don’t let it make you.
How do you tend to your emotions when you’re stressed?
My daily spiritual practice is a MUST to stay in alignment. If I am deliberate and disciplined in my daily practice, not too many things will trigger my lowest self. If I notice that I’m more stressed than normal, I up my meditation time, feed myself with more affirmations and reading, talk to God and seek out more opportunities to spend outside.
What does community mean to you?
Community means that if some of us are hurting, all of us are hurting. Community is compassion. Community is an opportunity to heal ourselves by being of service to others.
What’s one sustainable lifestyle swap you recommend?
Use your own bags and vessels when purchasing things in the world. I’m not a fan of lots of trash and packaging. I try to repurpose and reuse things. I’m not the most environmentally conscious, but I am trying and getting better at lessening my footprint every day.
What part does spirituality play in your wellness journey?
Spirituality IS my wellness journey. Without my connection to God and to myself, I have nothing.
What 360-Degree Wellness Looks Like In Devi’s Life
You’ve created a line of crystals and lifestyle products, Karma Bliss, to be supportive of people’s wellness. How do you personally use crystals?
I surround myself with them. They are all over my house, in my purse and worn on my body.
What is one wellness practice you have that you wish everyone could incorporate?
Meditation. By far, it has been the biggest tool I have gained on my journey. It’s truly the gateway to unlocking more of yourself and unlearning things that no longer serve you.
What are some ways you say “no” in your life, to protect yourself and set boundaries to avoid burnout again?
I simply say no. “No” without all the extra words and excuses to “lessen the blow.” I have a right to say it and saying “no” to something someone else wants isn’t a reflection of them or me; it is simply the choice I am making in that moment because it is what feels best to me. The more you connect to yourself and trust your intuition, the easier it is.
You talk about women wearing the “badge of busy.” Tell us what that means to you and why that’s not supportive of 360-degree wellness.
Society hates women. Historically all the way up to the present moment, it has been built and we have been trained to place severe judgment and impossible expectations on women. The idea that we have to sacrifice ourselves for everyone else and never speak up about it or accept help is something I absolutely do not subscribe to. We have been taught to and expected to be martyrs and to minimize ourselves in every way and in every place.
True wellness means exploring your wants, needs and fears. I am not interested in being a good looking, self-righteous shell of a person. I want to be a whole person. A full person. To do that, I cannot take on the weight and responsibility of every person I encounter and every opportunity I am a part of.
You’ve had a number of career pivots in your life. How do you suggest other women go about managing, embracing and orchestrating a career pivot, in a healthy, WELL way?
Never be afraid to reinvent! You are meant to evolve, change and grow in every area. By no means does this mean everyone needs to quit their job or change course every time a challenge arises, but it does mean that you should be seeking and learning and evaluating often. Being a multifaceted woman is a MOOD.
How Devi Brings 360-Degree Wellness to Technology
What’s your favorite wellness app?
What’s your favorite wellness podcast?
What’s your favorite wellness account to follow on Instagram?
@KarmaBliss of course!
What’s your stance on social media—is it helpful or harmful to our well being?
As with literally EVERYTHING, it is both. Yin & Yang. Personally I have to be very vigilant about limiting the time I spend on it. It’s designed to keep you on as long as possible in a way that you cannot necessarily control, so it’s incredibly important to be cognizant of that and set limits on your interactions with it.
What’s been most helpful for you in balancing the time you spend online vs. offline?
I try to build in time during my day where I am unreachable and don’t have access to my phone. Utilizing the “screen time” analytics on my iPhone has been sobering.
What’s your top tip for creating healthy online communities, like the one on your Instagram account?
A lot of that will be out of your control (the Internet is still the wild west in many ways), but I will say that being your most authentic self online and respecting your own privacy tends to attract like-minded spirits to your content.
Interested in learning more from wellness luminaries? Check out what these experts can’t live without.