Finding Your Centre With Nikki Janks

DSC_04932-e1484114215397.jpg

I first met Nikki on Panchakarma (Ayurvedic Detoxification Program) in Hyderabad, India nearly three years ago. We were both studying Ayurveda at the time. 

Naturally, we had a lot in common and over the past three years she has been an incredible source of knowledge and support in all areas of life. 

Together with her partner, Kevin, they run a drop-in meditation studio in the heart of Sydney’s CBD which continues to evolve, expand and help people and organisations manage stress where it is probably the most needed in the world – Sydney’s corporate district. 

Below I chatted to Nikki about the studio, meditation, Ayurveda and business in hope that she inspires you as much as me. 

How was Centred Meditation born? Do you remember the moment the idea came to one or both of you? 

Both of us were living highly stressful lives, experiencing anxiety and other physical and emotional ailments, and came to meditation as an antidote to stress. It had such a profound effect on our lives. Of course in the reduction of stress, but really it went so beyond that. We decided to quit our jobs and go travelling to India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, the source of meditation. 

We explored all different modalities, styles, philosophies and delved into the spiritual side too. Somewhere along the way, we realised that whilst all the spiritual knowledge and religious doctrine were fascinating - they simply weren’t required for meditation to work. As modern scientific research dictates, meditation is a simple mental technique that when practiced regularly, has immense physical and psychological benefit to one’s health and wellbeing. We mused “What if we could create a space and make it really accessible for people to gain the benefits that we ourselves had experienced, by lowering all the misconceptions and barriers?” And so, the concept of Centred Meditation was born. 

What was your career like before Centred Meditation? Did you both come from a corporate background? 

I (Nikki) was in the leadership and development space for community organisations and social enterprise. Kevin was in the security arena as a security consultant. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Kevin has a Masters in Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism. 

Both our jobs held heavy responsibility. Kevin used to experience violent nightmares and would frequently wake up in a pool of sweat. He also experienced recurring bouts of glandular fever, constant anxiety, tightness in chest and headaches. 

I was highly anxious form the studies, experiencing muscles spasms, digestive issues, sleeping troubles and constant worry about the future. 

How do you educate corporates and big organisations that meditation is a worthwhile pursuit? 

We begin by speaking to the detrimental impact of stress. It is estimated that mental health issues costs the Australian economy $12 billion a year in absenteeism, presenteeism, and 

compensation claims. When it boils down to it, at the core of every business lies a desire to improve the lives of people in some form or another. Often businesses get so caught up in that end game that they fail to realise the incredible opportunity right there in front of them to improve the lives of the very people playing the game with them. Thousands of research papers illustrate that meditation has profound benefits in enhancing health and wellbeing. The truth is that it goes way beyond that too. It impacts how you show up for yourselves and others as a manager, leader, employee, colleague, partner, parent, and friend. And this has a ripple effect on everyone around you and the world at large. 

How do you feel when you see the words "meditation" and "work" in the same sentence? 

I think that they go very naturally together. For me, it’s obvious that in order to access our full potential at work, we need a tool that will help optimise our level of human performance. Meditation is one such tool. A powerful one too! 

What is the vision and purpose of Centred Meditation? 

Our vision is to give urban professionals a greater sense of calm, clarity and confidence. Meditation triggers a state of calm in the body and mind. With that calm, comes the clarity of mind to ask the important questions in life that we usually don’t have capacity to consider. What do I really want for my life? Am I actually happy in this job or relationship? What difference do I want to make? And then the confidence comes to act on the answers that we discover to those questions and start aligning our lives with what we really see for ourselves. 

What are the main benefits you’ve seen in your clients? 

On a physical level, doctors send their patients to us to reduce blood pressure as well as improve neck pain, back pain, headaches, insomnia etc. Mentally, when they go back to work, they are so much more productive and energetic. Some report after their very first meditation that they have slept the best they have in months. Emotionally, there is less anxiety, less stress, less anger. Things that used to bug them aren’t bugging them anymore. They have more patience. More self-awareness. And generally feel happier and more fulfilled. 

What is your advice to anyone unsure or nervous about starting to meditate? 

The good thing is you don’t have to believe it’s going to work because the fact is it’s going to work regardless. My advice is to do your own experiment and just give it a go. Get the right instruction and then commit to meditating regularly for two weeks, asking for support along the way if any questions arise. Then assess whether it’s had an impact. 

What do you think has been the key to your brands success? 

Our effortless approach and our accessibility. Our effortless approach to meditation has it be easy, enjoyable and super effective. And it’s accessible because we are secular, conveniently located in the heart of the CBD, have comfortable armchairs are uber relatable. 

What are your top 3 business tips? 

1. Know your core purpose and be really aligned with it. For yourself and your team. 

2. Always put clients and customers first. It’s all about them. For us, this looks like extending their passes if circumstances prevailed, and breaking the odd policy if it means fulfilling on our core purpose. 

3. Keep evolving, gain feedback, be open and flexible. When we hear wants from our customers, we act on them and when opportunities arise, we jump on them. 

Nikki, you are studying to be a Psychologist and you are also an Ayurvedic Practitioner. How do you work Meditation into your practice? 

It ties together so perfectly. Meditation is the core of everything, of both mental health and even physical health. Whilst Ayurveda focuses on the physical side of things, meditation provides a foundation that then shifts into what you’re eating, your lifestyle routine, and treatments. Psychologically, meditation shifts how you see the world, situations, and yourself. If you do nothing but meditate, you start to become the observer of your thoughts and emotions and your self-awareness naturally increases. You begin to notice destructive thought patterns and amend them naturally. Then having the professional support helps take it all to the next level to create more sustainable and profound change. 

The business keeps growing with self-development courses, meditation retreats, corporate organisation and leadership training, community gatherings and workshops. What's next for the business and both of you? 

We are working on a teacher training program which will target people who want to take their practice to the next level and even consider teaching meditation. First we will start with people who want to facilitate guided meditation such as personal trainers, other health professionals and yoga instructors. 

We also have a virtual studio in the pipeline that will launch globally very soon. 

Our intention is also to open more studios in different locations across Australia and expand the corporate leadership side to provide profound shifts for personal growth in the work setting. 

What are you most proud of? 

I’m proud of the fact that we had a vision for the world, and even though it appeared that the landscape wasn’t set up for it yet, we put everything on the line and went for it anyway. Hearing the feedback and testimonials from our guests of the difference Centred Meditation has made on their lives over the last three years has been mind-blowing. 

Who has been your biggest teacher? 

There have been many along the way. From my very first meditation teacher to all the Gurus, Swami’s and seekers we met in India. Our most recent mentors are Walter Bellin and Robert Meredith who have been teaching meditation since the 70’s and have an incredible pool of knowledge and wisdom. Landmark, a renowned personal and professional growth, training and development company has also created a massive platform for us to be our own teachers: to work on ourselves by confronting the mechanisms of our minds and what gets in the way of us accessing our full potential. 

Join Nikki, Kevin, Walter and Robert on the upcoming Here and Now Meditation and Mindfulness Retreat on October 25-28, 2018. 

Head to www.centredmeditation.com.au for more information.