As the resident meditation leader for 1 Hotels and a frequent collaborator with Lululemon, Biet Simkin is well known in the world of high-end mindfulness. When I met her at an event she hosted at the HGU New York hotel last month, the first thing she did was warn me that the meditation she’d be leading that night would be intense. I was intrigued and kind of scared. The event was called Real Love, and promised guests a chance to “meditate and focus on understanding and finding romance in a mindful way.”
I have to confess that going into it, I thought it would be a simple, typical guided meditation with some quotes about love thrown in. What followed was a much deeper exploration into relationships. A brave volunteer told the tumultuous story of her last relationship to the room, with Simkin and her fiance Christophe Glass offering advice along the way about where she went wrong and how to move forward. We all filled out a questionnaire examining the details of our last failed relationship and discussed it with a partner before participating in a meditation soundtracked by Simkin’s own music. It was indeed intense, especially at the end of the emotional night.
Simkin’s overall theory seemed to be that in order to find love or improve a relationship, you have to work on yourself, using meditation and self-evaluation to gain confidence, figure out exactly what you want and to resist settling for anything less. I left the event impressed with the way she captivated the audience (of almost completely women), but with a few lingering doubts.
Still curious and with love on the brain as Valentine’s Day approaches, I sought Simkin out to chat about just what it is that she does and her views on relationships and romance.
How did you get into meditation in the first place?
My father was a shaman. He was kind of like Eckhart Tolle meets Mr. Miyagi. My whole family died when I was growing up except for him and my brother and so I was left in this household where one parent died and everyone else died, all my grandparents, and I was left with a shaman. It was a very bizarre upbringing. He taught me all these techniques and we were meditating together when I was in diapers. It was a super traumatic childhood and I went into deep depression. I coped with it by using poetry and art and music. When I was 18, I got signed to Sony and toured the country and rode around in limos and developed a bit of a drug habit doing that. About nine years ago my dad died and then a year later I got sober. I started meditating every single day for half an hour a day and I formed groups where I would go deep into these studies. We’d read the books together that my father and I had studied my whole life and we would meditate together. Then about four years ago in my own meditation, I was guided to found a meditation system, which is the one you experienced a piece of.
When people see you for life coaching, how do you help them find love?
When I deal with an individual, I take them through an inventory of a history of their entire love life. Starting from when they first started dating all the way to now. And I go through that questionnaire that you saw and I take them through it thoroughly. I’m also hand holding while this is all going on. Usually it takes about six months to go through the entire process. When they’re done I have them create an ideal, a vision of what it is they want. And I just want to be super clear that I’m not a witch or some kind of a magician, but usually 95% of the people that I work with after going through that process find a partner shortly thereafter and are able to kind of be a different kind of partner than they would [have been otherwise].
What’s keeping most people from finding love before they see you?
It’s one of two main things, one is being kind of an asshole. Being a crappy partner themselves and not wanting to look at that, and then the other one is a belief that they’re not good enough to have a partner that treats them well, so they’re going out into the world and they find someone who is wrong for them or mean to them or anything because they don’t have a specific standard. They don’t have a bar. If you don’t have a bar, how do you know that somebody didn’t hit it?
How is it different when you see couples? What do you have them do?
I do have them meditate together, I don’t do the questionnaires because I firmly believe that couples should not know about the past of each other’s love life. So I more just ask them about the current moment and what they want or what they’re looking to create or what they’re looking to be or do with one another. Usually they have problems that they are individually dealing with, and if I can help them individually even if it’s side by side, the problem that couples generally have aren’t with each other. Most couples are just struggling in their own lives and then they take it out on each other.
What can people do to help themselves manifest that positive energy and all those qualities that they might want to achieve in themselves?
I mean, I would instruct people to meditate every day for sure. And then to find spiritual teachers and people who have what they want and ask them how they got there. Whether it be in business or romance or anything else, if you don’t know how to get somewhere and you don’t ask someone how they got there how are you going to know how to get there. So that, and meditate, and pray also. I believe in prayer, but I’m not religious, so I just call it asking. I communicate with my higher self.
What is your personal view on Valentine’s Day?
I want to celebrate love every single day. 365 days a year.
Can you tell me about the event you have coming up on February 16?
So the event is a Club Soda event. Club Soda is a community that me and Ruby Warrington, the founder of the Numinous, created. It is a sober-curious club. So we come together, we’ve been doing quarterly events. I’m sober, but Ruby isn’t. She’s just consciously drinking. We’re opening the doors to everybody to say, what would your life look like if you just tried sobriety now and then? What if you try it on when you wouldn’t normally? This particular event is about love. It’s called True Romance. We’re doing it at the Lululemon Hub. We’re going to have groups talk about love. We’re going to have Jesse Israel, the founder of The Big Quiet come and speak about the man’s perspective on being in love and being in a relationship and self love as well. We’re going to have this woman Erin, a reiki healer, come and speak about self love and how important it is to love ourselves.
Is the idea that if you drink a little bit less you might be able to find something more authentic?
That is the idea. Also the idea of just that if you drink a little bit less and you don’t pursue love outside of yourself, but instead pursue falling in love with yourself, then you can create a better relationship from that.
To sign up for the Club Soda event, visit soda.splashthat.com/.
All images courtesy of @guidedbybiet