STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE: JACKIE CANTWELL

People

STORIES ABOUT PEOPLE: JACKIE CANTWELL

By: Parker Davis

Mental health and balance are at the forefront of Jackie Cantwell’s work. Jackie facilitates sound globally for mass meditations through sound bowls and led breath-work for some of the world’s most extensive ceremonies. 

Our conversation with Jackie dives into her many ventures and the shift to virtual work that caused her to restructure how she conveys her philosophy. Jackie opens up about the line between practicing inner peace and initiating that within others.

Tell us about how you initially got into sound music and meditation.

The first time I ever heard a sound bowl, the way it made me feel really took me by surprise. I had tears coming from my eyes, and a 15-min medi felt like a trip to the moon. The sound made me feel safe enough to go inside, during a time I found it really hard to be with myself.

Around that same time, I was becoming part of @thebigquiet team. The Big Quiet puts on mass meditations in some of the most iconic places in the world.

When Founder @jesseisrael decided to take The BQ on its first tour, he asked me if I would be interested in learning to play sound bowls so that I could provide sound during the meditations. I said yes.

Since then, I’ve played sound bowls for over 250,000 people all over the world.

You’re quite the entrepreneur. How do you define success for yourself? Which traits contribute to achieving it?

My own version of success is always evolving. I don’t think of success as a destination, but more of something to check-in on — knowing that it's already inside of me. As I try different jobs, relationships & life paths, I’ll narrow down what wakes up success in me the most.

Along the way I might learn that things I once valued highly, aren’t as important to me anymore. I may find that a certain lifestyle or achievement isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. This info helps me to define my own version of success even more clearly.

I think that if you aren’t connected to yourself, success can feel empty. That’s why comparing our success to others can set us up for a 🌎 of hurt — because we’re all different. When it comes to traits, I know I’ve got to have self-worth to achieve whatever success is for me.  

How do you distribute your time appropriately to all of your ventures?

I used to say yes to everything. Admittedly, I kind of get off on pushing my edge, to see how much I can handle. Historically, I've been pretty bad at relaxing. Learning to check in with myself, and scheduling in down-time, helps me to say no to things that aren’t good for me or will cause me to overextend myself. 

If I have some kind of routine or anchor, I’m a million times more likely to flow creatively, & really excel in all the other areas of my life. Routine & rituals can help clear the fog of stress & self doubt before I sit down (or show up) to work on a project.  

How have you adjusted to a virtual environment this year, and how has it affected your growth?

Oh man, right before COVID hit, I was on tour helping to represent The Big Quiet as part of Oprah’s 2020 Vision tour. We were putting on mass moments of meditation for sold out arenas of 15,000 people -- I played bowls. When we got back to NYC, quarantine hit.

As someone whose work is largely in person --I run community events like Medi Club (a monthly meditation meetup & sister community to The Big Quiet)-- COVID really turned my idea of work & career upside down.

One of the cool parts about Quarantine is the creativity it’s asked for. 

Our team at @thebigquiet shifted online, offering up free IG Lives, with weekly themes around the real shit that we’ve all been going through. It made moments of stopping (BQ style) accessible to a whole new group of people from around the globe.

Missing meditating IRL, but wanting to stay safe, I decided to roll my bowls out to Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick. I called it Sound Bowl Sunday, and did it once a week. This really expanded my idea of how I could make this kind of stuff accessible. 

It’s also during Quarantine that I taught myself how to use premiere, a video editing software. I started making funny little TikToks, which has since turned into quite a career! Now I’m creating digestible videos with hot tips on mindfulness and mental health.

Stresses related to business are something to which most people can relate. How do you find a balance between practicing for inner peace and practicing for a living? Is that something that you had to learn how to integrate and grow into, or did turning it into a business happen naturally?

It’s funny, for someone who guides meditations and plays meditative instruments I deal with a lot of stress & anxiety -- it’s why I got into this stuff & what makes me human.

There was a point during Quarantine where I was doing 4-5 IG Live meditations a day, and even though I was meditating with people, I was just about to lose my beans. I was getting burnt-out on screen-time. 

Even when I’m busy, my personal meditation practice is a non-negotiable. I make time every day to sit, even if it’s just for 5 minutes. This consistency primes me to show up in service, with a full heart, for the practices I share with others.

My rule of thumb has always been to practice what I preach. I only teach and share things that I have really spent some time with myself, so for me, my own practice and the practicing I do for a living are deeply connected. I think this mentality keeps me honest & real in my delivery.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working with groups of students?

It is an honor to be a teacher to anyone. Witnessing kids realize something for the very first time is a straight up gift -- their excitement is contagious. I teach to return the gift that was given to me by all the incredible teachers in my life. The most rewarding thing about working with any group of students is witnessing the evolution of their behavior, attitudes, and thinking. I get to see them unravel their uniqueness.

What did you gain by starting Camp Remember?

For much of my life, I felt like I didn't belong. I often felt lonely and was hungry for community and purpose. Growing up I had a lot of feelings, and didn’t know what it meant to take a deep breath.

At Camp Remember we come together to remind each other how cool it is to be yourself. The classes were from the dreams of my journal, and the teachers are all not only my friends, but people I look up to -- my community. The camp was all about self-discovery, and it helped me with my own self-discovery too. It helped me remember who I am. 

On days when you have more energy than normal, how do you expend it when your work is so focused on inner peace?

This is a great question, because I pretty much always have an intense amount of energy. For those that know me, they know that the sound of a big sigh & a rapid rubbing of my hands together means I’m trying to burn some shit out. 

I think that inner peace comes, in a big way, from learning to express ourselves outwardly. Taking time to work out, scream (I love screaming), breathe, be creative and share how I’m feeling, always clears up space inside so I can find a sense of calm.

Breath-work has been huge in helping me to move stagnant energy in my body so that I can relax into the moment. As a practice, I take a few juicies (my word for breaths) before I make things (like answering these questions). I find that this clears a pathway for my creativity to cruise, while also quieting my inner critic.

You’re a friend of the brand. How has MINERAL contributed to your routine?

I am a big big fan of a good nighttime routine. Most recently, I’ve been using a few drops of HYDRATE facial oil to give myself a nice face massage before bedtime. It’s v nice. I like to look at myself in the mirror and do a shout out for something I want to celebrate about myself, big or small :)

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