Bringing all genders into the birth conversation has always been important to us, so we are very excited to have our first male-identifying guest on #thisishowiwasborn. Meet Jesse Israel, creator of The Big Quiet, a mass mediation for modern people made possible by community collaboration, that's taking over NYC (and the world).
We first met Jesse through Medi Club, his monthly gathering for people to well, meditate, and were impressed by his real gift of bringing people together and creating such a vibrant community in such a short amount of time (The Big Quiet was started less than a year ago and is now filling spaces as big as Lincoln Center). We sat down with Jesse to talk about how he was born and his move to make meditation mainstream with the millennials. And since we're stopping by Medi Club on 5/4 to talk about our Birth Gathering coming up on 5/7, it's perfect timing for us to introduce the Medi Club community to all of our Brilliant Peeps.
Here’s Jesse on how he was born, a man who had 90 babies, and being cool with not pleasing everyone.
HOW WERE YOU BORN?
I was born via c-section. My mom had been going to childbirth ed classes and she had it in her head that c-sections were bad. When she went into labor, her water broke and she was really committed to trying to have a natural birth. She was in labor for 36 hours, in a lot of pain and a lot of emotional distress. Eventually she decided to go ahead with the c-section. She was very relieved that she did it because I came out happy and healthy. She has no regrets around doing that. She actually said that one thing she wishes she had known beforehand is that it was ok to have a c-section, that she could have enjoyed the process more if she had allowed herself to trust that it was going to be ok. She had a VBAC 4 years later with my little sister.
DID HEARING YOUR STORY TEACH YOU ANYTHING ABOUT YOUR MOM?
I was surprised that she was willing to go through so much pain without taking pain meds. My mom hates pain and she likes to be pampered. It was a reminder of how much she loved me even before I was even born and how she is willing to put me first.
Wanna see pictures?
BB: Yes! Whoa, these are amazing! It is so rare to have pictures of c-section births, especially from the 80s. That is a photo of you literally coming out of your mom’s uterus!
J: Did you guys make senior pages in high school? Well everyone had pictures of their friends etc. and I was the weird artsy kid who used pictures of this.
BB: Love it.
J: Look at this one. I was born a Buddha baby.
BB: You were born meditating. How appropriate.
WHAT COMES TO MIND WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT 'BIRTH'?
I am a little obsessed with birth right now actually. My cousin just had a baby. I was with her over Christmas break when she was 9 months pregnant. She was carrying so much life and radiance. She was a glowing figure of feminine wonder! I had never spent so much time with a pregnant woman before and being with her was so eye opening; I was so drawn to her. Since then I’ve been doing all this research about birth and found some really fun facts. Now I am dying to be around more pregnant women. One of our circle leaders at Medi Club just told me she’s pregnant and I’m really excited. I just want to be around her all the time.
BB: Sound like you're ready to be a dude-la.
WHAT FUN FACTS ABOUT BIRTH DID YOU LEARN IN YOUR RESEARCH?
I learned about the youngest woman to ever be pregnant. She was 5 years old. She never revealed who got her pregnant but they think it was her father. She started getting her period when she was 9 months old. Her son lived to be 40. She’s still alive and lives in Peru. Imagine being 5 years older than your mom? Crazy!
Another crazy thing I found was this Russian farmer who had 90 kids, just with two women! One had about 20 babies and the other had the rest. What is interesting is that both of these women had a lot of multiple births. I think it was like 6 sets of triplets or something. Must have been something in his sperm.
BB: That's so wild. We're definitely going to to look more into that!
TELL US ABOUT WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY BIRTHING?
I am creating community and businesses around bringing meditation and personal growth to young people in ways that feel modern and easy to access. I am currently doing that through mass mediation experiences where lots of people come together to share silence. The idea is to also create space after meditations for the community to have conversations and share things that we are dealing with in our lives that are preventing us from living a life of fullness.
WHAT GAVE YOU THE "FINAL PUSH" TO START THIS COMMUNITY?
I was running a record company and tech investment fund for 9 years and was just feeling a very strong calling to move on. It was no longer fulfilling and hadn't been for a while, and there was some strong intuitive pull to do something else. I spent 9 years, grew and learned a ton, but the growth period ended and I felt it was time to step into the role of why I'm here on Earth and do something different. I came to that through a meditation practice which gave me the courage to act on it. So that was it. I just took a leap and didn't know what I wanted to do for a while. I started experimenting with Medi Club and now it's been about 2 years since I left.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE LABOR LIKE?
It was tough and scary and gratifying. I used to have big fears of speaking in public, and that is a big part of what I do now, so that was really scary at first. Mediation is such a sensitive thing for a lot of people, some see it as weird or self-helpy, so to come out to the world and say this is something that I stand for and what I'm doing was huge. To be public about it felt like coming out of the closet in some ways because initially, it was something I didn’t feel comfortable sharing, which was very challenging for me and my ego. And then organizing groups, wanting people to have a good time, wanting people to be comfortable and have a certain experience, hoping that they like me or they like what I say - I've dealt a lot with my ego and with releasing the control of making sure everyone loves me and has a good experience. Letting go of this control has been a really cool process. Now I know not everyone is going to like this and not everyone is going to like me. And as long as I am being authentic and really committing myself to the work, it’s ok.
We just brought on a new business consultant to help out with Medi Club and The Big Quiet. We have some real experts who are helping and I'd like to be able to go deep and nail the system here, with the leaders, the circles, The Big Quiets and an understanding of how we can go to other cities. Eventually I'd love to have a co-working space where we come together with these values and then bring it to other cities. But you know, it’s going to take time. But I really believe in the work we're doing. And the main thing is that I love it, and now I've come to terms with the fact that I am not making the money I would have been making if I had stayed at my company, and it feels fine. But it was really tough for my ego for the first year.
BB: Yes, we’ve been there. But once you start going down your path, there is no going back.
ANY FAVORITE #BRILLIANTBITS?
My meditation practice has been more than a relaxation technique; it’s helped me understand what I stand for. (Inspired by David Gelles)