How This Hip-Hop Influencer Went From Burnout to Bliss
After years of dues-paying in her career, Devi Brown reached milestone after milestone, eventually becoming an well-known radio personality—and yet, she felt like something was missing. As she went deeper into her own spiritual and wellness journey, she became inspired to share her findings through Karma Bliss, which offers inspiration, guidance, and resources for the modern seeker. Here, as part of our Wellness in Color series, she shares her story with W+G Council member Latham Thomas .
Latham Thomas: Devi, tell me a little about your journey. What is the story behind Karma Bliss?
Devi Brown: I worked in radio and TV for 13 years, mostly in the hip-hop format. I was interviewing every rapper that ever rapped, which was fun and exciting, but the biggest thing that attracted me to radio was the connection that you have with people. It felt sacred and intimate. What drew me to that world was a desire to help people tell their stories, and having that ability to connect on a deeper level with people that you don't know.
My career was great, but then I started feeling like, Well, what else is there? I started thinking about how society defines success—getting the promotion, the car, the house, the family, the retirement package. With this idea of always hustling, you're being measured by your productivity, and I bought into that. I started to completely drain myself and feel deeply unfulfilled. So I started to go inward and get in deeper touch with myself. As I was taking that journey, I was still doing my radio show. People were calling me and saying, "You always have this good energy."
Latham Thomas: When was this awakening happening for you?
Devi Brown: Around 2014. At the time, I didn't really see anything like Karma Bliss, so I started putting up ideas and thoughts. I had developed all these tools, but I didn't want to just hoard them. I wanted to share and give back.
Latham Thomas: So you started to share the tools that were enriching your life, and then what happened?
Devi Brown: First and foremost, the most important part of my journey was learning how to meditate. That's what initially kicked all of this off for me, and my first offering to people was teaching them how to meditate by hosting meditation meetups. A lot of people thought it was witchcraft or against God, but others showed up. One night, we did sound healing and candlelight meditation. I put the announcement on Instagram, and I was expecting 10 people to come, but hundreds showed up! That was the push that brought me into this space.
Latham Thomas: What are your practices are for self-care—and really making sure that that your cup is full?
Devi Brown: I've had to fine-tune my daily practice to be something that fills me up and allows me to always return to center, no matter how chaotic or challenging life may be. I dedicate at least 45 minutes at some point in the morning to myself. I practice primordial sound meditation through Deepak Chopra. Some days, I might also do a guided meditation, ring my sound bowl, light some palo santo wood, and do some reading and affirmations.
But I'm also needing more playful joy. As adults, we move away from that so much. For me, self-care means more moments to access that childlike joy and energy— and the self that I don't get a chance to access as an adult. I try to activate more moments for play, and more moments to do things that just make me smile.
Latham Thomas: Is there an example of that you can share?
Devi Brown: Recently, I was on a plane with no wi-fi or TV, and I didn't bring a book. So I spent several hours making a 26-day playlist. It's something like 15,000 hours long. I went through all of my music and picked songs that, to use the words of Marie Kondo, sparked joy. The playlist is all over the place, from underground hip-hop to '90s country—just any song that brings about some type of good memory or makes me smile. For me, that playlist represents self-care, because I play it every day, all day, and it makes me feel good.
"I'm also needing more playful joy. As adults, we move away from that so much." —Devi Brown
Latham Thomas: What is your wellness mantra?
Devi Brown: Right now, it's "Build a career around your life instead of building a life around your career."
Latham Thomas: Is there a piece of advice that sits with you or a moment of of real reflection that occured between you and an elder?
Devi Brown: It's not a piece of advice, but how my godparents live really inspired a sense of adventure in me. They've both passed on, but they lived in the Hancock Park area of LA, and they were both educators. They had such a zest for knowledge! Their house was filled with things from their travels: papyrus on the wall from their trip to Egypt, spices they gathered from India, even flatware from sitting first class on planes. In a subtle way that I didn't realize until I became an adult, that was significant to my young brain and young heart. Seeing their home gave me access to worlds I hadn't seen yet. I honestly don't know who I'd be if I hadn't had access to them—tasting different cuisines, staring at their walls, seeing them stand in front of the Taj Mahal. It did so much to change my view of who I could be in this world.
Latham Thomas: What is your wellness superpower?
Devi Brown: My curiosity. I'm a deeply curious person. I like applying methods of self-inquiry and asking other people questions that matter. Curiosity is a driving force of whatever work I do. And then, communicating and trying to stand in a space of non-judgment with people. I don't like how this day and age centers on forming fast opinions with limited facts and forming judgments on everything. I try to stand away from that and to hold a space for people that is a zone of free communication and real, genuine interest.
"It's not enough to martyr yourself for other people. You have to do your own work." —Devi Brown
Latham Thomas: Are there any ancestral practices that you pull from that inform your work?
Devi Brown: I don't necessarily know if I'm tied into ancestral practices from only my ancestry. I have found so many nuggets and gems and pieces from all belief systems, and I've compiled them together. I've found what serves me in many different teachings.
Latham Thomas: Any last thoughts, comments, or ideas?
Devi Brown: Something that keeps coming up for me is just reminding people to do their own work. It can be easy to feel righteous about yourself when you're constantly helping other people. When we do that, we can spend our entire lives distracting ourselves from ourselves. It's not enough to martyr yourself for other people. You have to do your own work; you have to actually dig into yourself and be honest and real with yourself. A lot of times, it's easy to run from that because you have convinced yourself that your time is better spent healing other people. I think it's just another tool of self-avoidance. I want to encourage people to not feel that they have to be the fixer and savior of other people's lives. Let people run their own race and hold loving space for them to do that. Focus all of that [energy] on you.
Latham Thomas is a master manifestor and the founder of Mama Glow, a healthy gal's guide to actualization in the modern world. Her second book, Own Your Glow, was recently published by Hay House Inc.
What—or whom—should Latham write about next? Send your questions and suggestions to email@example.com.
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