A Conversation with Jewel
Esalen Team
January 1, 2017

In February 1995, singer and songwriter Jewel emerged on the national scene with what would become one of the best-selling debut albums of all time. Twenty-two years later, she will lend her familiar voice in a new way as a featured speaker at the annual conference of Wisdom 2.0.

“We are excited to hear from Jewel about her storied past, growing up on an Alaskan homestead, leaving home at the age of 16, and struggling with all sorts of internal issues, to rise above and rediscover her true self,” said Wisdom 2.0 founder Soren Gordhamer. The conference, of which Esalen is a community sponsor, will be held February 17-19 in San Francisco. Wisdom 2.0’s annual retreat at Esalen will be held August 2017.

In anticipation of her Wisdom 2.0 debut, eNews spoke to Jewel about the experiences which have brought her to this latest chapter in her life.

eNews: Many people identify you as an award-winning singer and songwriter and now most recently a best-selling author. How would you describe yourself?

Jewel: I describe myself as a person who is constantly evolving. Music, books, and poetry are all the soundtrack to my own personal evolution. I believe that if I delve deeply into the river of myself, it will lead me to the ocean of everyone else. I think that's why my writing speaks to people, because it’s not just my story — it's the story of us all. The story of struggle, triumph, failure, and the will to keep standing with greater grace each time.

eNews: When you wrote Never Broken, did you have a vision to create a mindfulness movement and community behind it?

Jewel: I was compelled to write Never Broken in response to a question I get so often: how did I go from an abusive background, to moving out at 16 to being homeless to happy? I know how much people struggle to feel the healing and internal permission needed to become an architect of your own life, instead of the backseat driver of one you were born into. I believe there are every-day solutions that can help other people find peace of mind and live an extraordinary life.

I had hoped to launch the website with the release of the book, so I could pick up where the book left off and offer real tools. I soon found out that getting the exercises I created for myself out of my head and into simple shareable steps would entail a lot of time and thoughtfulness. I released the book while I worked on perfecting the exercises and learned more about the business side of creating a new platform outside of the arts. But personally, I see what I'm talking about in Never Broken, and my exercises are the same thing I have been talking about my whole career:  How do I live a more authentic and satisfying life that has harmony in all aspects of what it means to be human? But now I want to do it by sharing specific things that helped me.

eNews: What has surprised you most about your experience in launching the Never Broken community?

Jewel: I was so pleased when renowned mindfulness expert Dr. Judson Brewer agreed to be my science endorser for the website. I made most of my exercises when I was 18, so to have him and so many wonderful therapists I respect endorse my site (and to see Dr. Brewer explain why my exercises work) has been pretty thrilling.  

eNews: Can you share a bit with us the journey that has brought you to this place in your life where you’re helping others with the tools and insights to bring mindfulness and joy into their lives?

Jewel: I think this has been a mission I have always been on. Hands and Who Will Save Your Soul, among other [songs], were about these topics. My life has been a journey of learning how to look at nature versus nurture and challenge the assumptions and give power back to myself. If I received bad nurture, could I get to know my true nature? And could I re-nurture myself? Could I relearn a new emotional language so I did not repeat the one I was raised with? The answer is yes, if you're willing to look inside and work for it.

Happiness is available to anyone who is willing to look in the mirror and say they demand their life to rise to that level, and then set about creating and executing a plan to create meaningful change. It doesn't take the right therapist, spouse, house or family. It takes learning that happiness is in your hands and yours alone.

eNews: You shared once that a secret you have learned in life is that the great thinkers of the world were not great thinkers – they were great “get-out-of-their-own-wayers”. How are you able to get out of your own way, and what can we do in own lives to do the same?

Jewel: I don't believe scientific, personal or artistic breakthroughs of any kind happen because a person thought about it. It's because they learned how to escape the mind and tap into a larger sense of intelligence. Eureka moments come when we are inspired — and that does not take place in the mind, nor by being consumed with thoughts of anxiety, fear, or worry. They come from developing a relationship with your own inner Observer and distancing from the noise and static in your head so that you can hear your own soul's longing to talk to you.

eNews: What does it mean to be a farmer of light?

Jewel: I sign all my emails with this quote from a poem I wrote: "We are not in the business of fighting darkness, we are farmers of light." To me, it means we no longer lend our strength to that which we wish to be free from, choosing to focus instead on the good we can grow in the world.

eNews: You’ve inspired so many with your heart-felt words and music. Who inspires you?

Jewel: So many amazing authors... Rilke, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Flannery O'Connor, Steinbeck, Pablo Neruda.... really too many to count!

Learn more about the Never Broken community.

Tickets are still available for Wisdom 2.0. Register today.


Esalen Team