Let’s face it—anxiety has become virtually inevitable in modern society. Trying to balance the pressures of “hustle culture,” general life commitments, and a social media landscape that demands an image of perfection is enough to drive anyone insane. Sprinkle in decades of wage stagnation combined with rising housing and food costs, and we’ve got ourselves a recipe for Grade-A stress.
This is where the art of self-care comes in. As the topic of mental health has become increasingly destigmatized, so too has precedence of mindfulness activities like yoga, meditation, sound therapy, and conventional therapy playing a bigger role in daily life.
It’s meditation specifically that we were able to dig deeper into with DJ icons Jamie Jones and Lee Burridge one sunny August weekend. They certainly know a thing or two about a cortisol-infused lifestyle, with the Paradise founder and All Day I Dream founder clocking in decades’ worth of intense touring and off-kilter sleep schedules.
They have similar backgrounds with meditative practice, having picked it up years ago in an effort to bring more balance and clarity into their lives. It worked, and they’ve since adopted it into their normal routines. “Meditation was the cure for me for ongoing anxiety that, at times, I went to hospital because of,” voiced Lee as the two spoke to each other about the activity’s benefits.
Jones’ and Burridge’s shared love for meditation is what eventually brought them to MEYA—a mindfulness app made with the average dance music fan in mind. It’s designed to foster enthusiastic participation in the wellness arena by offering subscribers custom guided meditations and other exercises paired with dance music. Odd as it may sound, meditation and dance music are somewhat linked: in Jamie’s words, “There’s a moment when you’re on the dance floor where you lose track of time, completely entranced and in the zone—which is essentially being fully present.”
The talents explore more on this marriage, MEYA, and positive changes brought to their life by meditation in a candid back-to-back conversation.
LB: Mental health has become a major talking point in electronic music; why now, do you think, and do you think it's essential as artists to speak out about our own struggles to bring visibility and awareness around it?JJ: Even before the pandemic there was increasing pressure on artists to be successful especially as there’s so much visibility on what your peers are doing through social media. I noticed a lot of artists feeling like they weren't reaching their goals while seeing others achieve and I could see it affecting people’s mental health. And then when the pandemic hit a lot of artists obviously had financial struggles and felt like their momentum had been halted, which I’m sure caused a lot of people stress.
LB: Burning Man culture has played a huge influence on both of us. What other lessons can we take from the Playa and apply to the real world, especially when it comes to balance and mental health?JJ: The biggest lesson when it comes to mental health in relation to Burning Man for me is how valuable disconnecting from the day to day network that our lives are so entwined with can be. It gives space to be more emotionally connected with the people around you and to step away from the digital world and appreciate the real world.
LB: Through our partnership with MEYA, we're assisting in dance music-led meditations. What are some parallels you see between the entraining power of club music and getting into the meditative zone. Can dance music be considered a modern drum circle ritual?JJ: Yes it can be, definitely. There’s a moment when you’re on the dance floor where you lose track of time and are completely entranced and in the zone—which is essentially being fully present. Being in this state is a release and a break for your brain because you stop thinking about anything; you’re just enjoying the moment. This is exactly what meditation is, and the same feeling of relief and release is achieved through both things.
LB: What are some of the biggest lessons you've learned on your ongoing quest to become a healthier and elevated version of yourself on and off the tour circuit?JJ: One thing I’ve learnt is that sometimes the show and your performance is great, sometimes it’s ok, and sometimes it’s not so good. But whatever happens, tomorrow is another day, another show and another opportunity to try your best. So I no longer let anything affect my spirit and I no longer overthink and worry about the things I could have done better and can’t change and just focus on doing my best each and every time and whatever happens, happens. The other thing I learnt some time ago was how important physical health is when you’re touring heavily and the most important part of that is eating as healthy as you can. Lots of vegetables and water are essential.
JJ: You've had a personal journey with mental and spiritual well being even practicing meditation. How have these practices helped you? LB: Meditation was the cure for me for ongoing anxiety that, at times, I went to hospital because of. I was that person who thought he was about to die of a heart attack and, during the attacks I was so overwhelmed by the physical sensations that my mind registered as me having or about to have a heart attack. It was so crippling at times that even if I told myself it was a panic attack another more fearful voice told me I was dying. I tried medication and exercise (which in some ways also helps…especially dancing), but it never really cured me. Then, I found TM and literally it felt like I was cured overnight. Since I started meditating I’ve never had anything close to those awful experiences ever again. Aside from that, I find it a brilliant way to clear my mind which has allowed me to feel very creative at times. We all become overwhelmed some days and it’s then really hard to find 'the flow'. That being, creative ideas, thoughts and interesting directions that aren’t then interrupted by all the other things life loves to throw in front of us all.
JJ: Curious to hear more about the impact of yoga, meditation, etc at events like yours at All Day I Dream. What encouraged you to take this step? What has the reaction been? LB: I think the community in general that’s drawn to All Day I Dream also integrates these kinds of practices into their lives. Both yoga and meditation at the beginning of my events really set the day up to be positive and energised. It’s both a lovely and elevating experience that brings people's day into unison. Just like music and dancing actually. The reaction is great. It gets more popular every time. It's the healthiest pregaming you can do.JJ: How do you think that an app like Meya and the music technology it uses (frequencies, arrangements, binaurals) can enhance a meditative experience? LB: Whenever I’ve spoken to people about meditating I find one in two people (maybe more) don’t really think it’s for them. Perhaps, they don’t really understand how to do it or just can’t relate to it as maybe it feels like the kind of things hippies do. The thing is though, if you listen to music, you’ve probably already experienced a meditative state in some ways. All music takes the mind to a different place. MEYA has cleverly bridged the gap between dance music and mediation and this will actually introduce people who didn’t think it was for them to experiences they’ve already actually experienced. Ta da! Welcome to the first day of the rest of your new and improved life! Although people might not know that certain frequencies are theorised to be healing frequencies, this technology will allow them to explore these concepts in a way that's more familiar to them. The music itself brings something more familiar to the experience while the meditations and words that are paired with it slowly over time become familiar too.
JJ: Where do you see the mindfulness revolution going in the future, especially when it comes to electronic music? Do you think this movement is here to stay? LB: As we continue to explore and understand the health benefits of these experiences I’d believe and hope it will become a part of children’s upbringing and, hopefully, taught in school. I hope it continues to not just be considered something the woo woo crowd and born again consumers integrate into their days. Surely feeling more balanced and calm is for everyone, right? Not just people who go to Tulum or shop at Whole Foods. As for the electronic music part of this world, this gives yet another outlet for it to exist that's not exclusively for those going to a party. In society there've been negative stereotypes of who actually likes dance music even when it's actually been making people feel a part of a positive and welcoming global community for decades.
JJ: Is there a track that has “changed your life” or impacted you deeply and triggered a positive inner transformation? LB:There’s not really one particular track that changed my life but I discovered Alan Watts through dance music. I can’t remember which particular track I first heard him speaking on (there are many) but I loved what he was saying and afterwards found him online. He’s not only got a great voice but also so much wisdom that resonates with me.