From early childhood, Jennifer Kass felt a fierceness within that would not be contained.
Back then, the now writer, speaker and coach rejected the Buddhist principles of her Boulder, Colorado household in favor of pioneering her own path: She moved to New York City to work at Allure magazine. Five years later, she left her job in search of an outlet for her lifelong anger over the world’s injustices and a way to be part of inciting positive change.
A gut-wrenching breakup a year later left her at rockbottom. That was ultimately the catalyst for a “radical spiritual awakening.” Over the next six months, her new bare bones, almost monastic lifestyle served as a backdrop for complete inner transformation and connection back to her true self.
Finally, Kass realized her mission: She started her own business and movement guiding others towards freedom and awakening through self-love. Thus inspired, she studied coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, started writing about her experience and, most recently, launched her #LovePioneer app, a mindfulness tool with personalized reminders and daily meditations to help quell the stress of everyday living.
Here, Jennifer Kass explains why, above all else, she believes in the power of love:
Live The Process: Initially, you rebelled against your Buddhist upbringing: Why do you think you did that?
Jennifer Kass: I had to pioneer my own path, find my own way, in my own time. After a weekend of mindfulness meditation training at age 13, it took me two more decades to sit down with myself. The rebel, warrior, fiery Aries in me needed to do things her way. From a very young age, I was more interested in truth-telling than fitting in. (In first grade, I exposed the truth about Santa Claus to the class much to the teacher's dismay.) Buddhism and my parents' progressive lifestyle and openness was a precious seed planted from the beginning, allowing me to bloom in my own unique way from a loving (and imperfect) foundation. Today, I teach directly from my own personal spiritual journey. My teachers and many of my spiritual initiations are my relationships.
LTP: Why was this particular breakup so emotionally disruptive and, ultimately, cathartic?
JK: It was love addiction that made the breakup rock me so hard. I had been in long-term relationships from ages 13 to 31 and was running away from myself for all those years. I was loving love outside of me, but not aware of the love inside me until the awakening in 2012. Not only did I awaken to divine love, but I awakened to my purpose: I wanted to start a new conversation on love and the connection to our spirit, our humanness and its power to change our lives and the world. A year after the breakup, I lost everything I owned. After living in New York City for eight years, all of a sudden, I couldn't pay my rent and had to give up my apartment and possessions and really save myself. My business and work in the world bounded to a new level within a few months following the devastation. My faith and trust in love was the golden rope that pulled me out of being a victim and into victory. Since then, I have written every day and published and begun using the hashtag #lovepioneer. I recently launched an app of the same name.
LTP: You became “an urban monk.” What did that entail?
JK: The monastic living was accidental. And it does not necessarily equate to some higher level of spirituality. I know many people who have regular lifestyles and do not even call themselves “spiritual,” but are living Yodas. What occurred four years ago was a profound inner shift that radically changed the course of my life and how I lived day-to-day. That first year, my life turned into a living meditation. After being an extreme extrovert my entire life, I barely spoke to anyone, spent my days walking up the water, meditating, writing down revelations, resting and cooking. I experienced a heightened sensitivity to everything that was blocking me from my life force and, so, I organically and intuitively let go of all caffeine, alcohol, animal products and toxic media. I didn't write or speak about it or preach it to my friends or clients. It was a very personal process led by my heart. I realized how important it was for me to be totally clear, so I could live my purpose. I feel that this is what freedom is: To live aligned with our own souls, to move to the beat of our own drums. This is what I humbly guide others to live. I like to call it, “living in love.” In love with ourselves, with each other, with life.
LTP: What wellness rituals do you practice to keep yourself feeling balanced and healthy, as you strive you help others?
JK: A daily practice is what supports and sustains me. That looks like daily meditation, yoga, cooking at least one meal, writing and connecting with someone in a meaningful way each day. I like being in my own rhythm now rather than rigid practices. My first two years of meditation needed to be at least twice daily right when I woke up in the morning and before bed. I integrated many changes over the years, so I tune into my own flow and what I need each day. Today, after the years of deep inner diving and making a cosmic connection, a physical yoga practice and human connection is more important than ever.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
JK: Happiness is self-love, living life to the fullest and totally and completely accepting our humanness—every emotion, every challenge and the ebb and flow of life.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
JK: “Live the Process” means three things to me: It means living what we teach, walking the talk (which is more important than ever for teachers), along with transparency and vulnerability. It means true knowledge is from experience, not from outside information. And it means the journey is the goal—not the outcome, not the arrival to perfection, not the end result. The process, the journey, is where the magic happens. We can live the process more each day by letting these three things remind us that we are all imperfect humans with great wisdom right inside ourselves; we are here for the adventure together and the process is lifelong.