In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, Billboard has partnered with The Mindful Creative on a series of conversations with music artists and executives about the self-care practices they use to keep themselves on track, both during the pandemic and beyond.
Today’s conversation is with Devi Brown, chief impact officer at Chopra Global and a board member for the Mental Wealth Alliance Foundation. Prior to joining Chopra, Brown spent more than a decade in broadcasting as an on-air talent for companies such as iHeartmedia, Sirius and MTV. After experiencing so-called ‘burnout,’ she began her personal growth and mindfulness journey after becoming a Chopra certified practitioner of primordial sound meditation seven years ago. Now, the L.A.-based founder of Karma Bliss, author (Crystal Bliss) and podcaster (Dropping Gems) is focused on sharing tangible healing practices with Millennial and Gen Z women of color in support of “whole-life wellbeing.”
I feel really grateful and honored for all the places that my journey has taken me because I’m recognizing that kind of divine synchronicity in each moment and how everything serves a purpose. You know, I’ve always been a seeker. I was the kid in middle school that had self-help books. Who does that? I was always in deep thought about myself and my experiences. I’m an only child raised by a single parent and so that lends itself to a lot of what feels like emotional isolation and on the other end, an opportunity to really know myself as deeply as possible from a very early start.
My life first took me into entertainment. I started working in radio and doing some TV, and kind of on the L.A. music scene when I was 18. But the deeper desire there was always the storytelling and it was always my curiosity. I don’t consider myself in the music industry now. I actually don’t even listen to anything with the exception of Soulection Radio, which I think is one of God’s greatest gifts. Back then, I had a lot of access to celebrity but the root of my work was always in deep curiosity about people’s journeys.
I interviewed Kendrick [Lamar] maybe like a decade ago, and in that interview I asked him about depression and mental health – that was the word that we were using. I was getting responses from listeners about how much that helped them. I also remember I interviewed Common around that same time and I brought up the concept of PTSD in the hood.
So, when I see the music industry expanding in ways where people are honoring their individual journey while also holding the space of being a celebrity and holding the space of the people that kind of [set the] pace [for] the culture, I’m excited to see what is happening, which is the elevation of our collective consciousness. It’s the opportunity for us to start being honest about our stories so that we can demystify the roads we use to free ourselves. And we can also let people know that we’re not alone in our experiences. I think across human history, no one was speaking freely about their truth for a multitude of reasons. One of them being the different systems of oppression that have been in place.
Now I think that we have the expansion that’s really taking place in such a rapid way in the last five years. It’s really just us being ourselves and us being unafraid to stand in our authenticity, whatever that looks like, and us being open to learning new ways and knowing that we don’t just have to stay within the confines of our origin, family structures and our belief systems that we haven’t even given our consent to. When I see those kinds shifts happening and that freedom being extended to the music industry or just seeing that those that are ready are sharing their full selves with their fan base, that feels really exciting to me.
When I was looking back at my time in the industry it was actually kind of challenging to look at the music that I used to be into as a young person. And when I first left the music industry, I spent my time and spent my life in deep study of trauma and deep study of mental health while amassing different certifications and a multitude of healing modalities.
This idea of mental health, I feel like, can sometimes be really restricted. And the conversations we have about it, because it is so new and there’s not enough education around what that means. The term is being used in so many different contexts, in different ways. It’s also being used nonchalantly as like a catchall, like everything is mental health. For me, mental health and my well-being are one. They have to always exist in the same sentence. It really always revolves around the holistic approach. I’m in constant observation of myself without judgment and seeking out the tools when I need them. Also surrendering into the tools that I’ve already cultivated and knowing that I have the ability to meet my needs in that way.
I really luxuriated in the spaciousness that the pandemic gave me in terms of like not having plans anymore, especially evening plans. I have a toddler now so for parents, you know what that life is like and what that can kind of mean for our silent time. I usually I wake up at 5 a.m. every day just naturally and my son is up and running soon after. There is not a start and stop to my practice, so I feel like it runs the range of 24 hours. Now I think I’ve really expanded to say my entire life is an offering to God, my whole life, everything that I do during the course of the day is in service to that. I’ll do my own kind of cleansing exercise for my energy and recharging. And I’ll set an intention for the day, open up a bunch of windows, throw on some frequency music and get my day going.
A thought I would love to offer artists and executives is to be in constant acknowledgement that you are not what you do and you are not the roles that you play in other people’s lives. There’s opportunity for more. This is such a 24-hour business that is so deeply steeped in lifestyle that sometimes what you do, how you live, how you’ve seen it all melts together and it becomes this one thing. And then that becomes how you know yourself and how you think of yourself. But there is so much more available for each of us. We exist and have worth outside of what we do, outside of how many accolades we receive. We are more than any role. We are more than any accolade. There’s opportunity to love yourself as deeply as possible.
As told to Griselda Flores.