Suze Yalof Schwartz doesn’t want to change your life. She just wants to make the one you have better. “I want everyone to meditate,” says Yalof Schwartz, CEO and founder of Unplug Meditation studio in West Los Angeles. “I want to take meditation from the esoteric to the accessible.” Indeed, Unplug, which opened in 2014, is a welcoming place where anyone can drop in, sit down, take a deep breath, and—just maybe—find not only one’s self but life balance.
Yalof Schwartz is living proof. Not long ago, she was in the center of her own storm—juggling a demanding career at a glossy women’s magazine with family, life, and the hectic everyday. In 2012, she, her husband, and three boys moved from New York City to Los Angeles, where Yalof Schwartz continued to freelance, traveling between coasts, seeking, unsuccessfully, a sense of equilibrium. As her stress increased, her mother-in-law suggested meditation. She tried it—and almost instantly was hooked.
Developing a consistent practice took longer. She wanted to find a place for a quick-shot guided meditation, like a yoga studio, to escape from the distractions of her West Coast life. “There were six-week programs, meet-up groups in temples, corporate retreats,” she says, “but nowhere you could stop by feeling yucky and walk out feeling great.” On a mission to fill a personal void, she created a quiet oasis where others like her could disconnect from the hyper-connected world. She fittingly christened it Unplug.
Dating back to 5000 BCE, meditation may have never been more necessary than it is today. The health benefits are plentiful: meditation lowers blood pressure, increases memory, grows the prefrontal cortex (which helps regulate cognitive, emotional, and behavioral functioning), and shrinks the amygdala (which controls automatic responses associated with emotional stimulation). But furthermore, there’s empowerment in all that stillness. A mind uncluttered makes room for clarity, improved focus, self-assurance, and a sense of personal direction. Paradoxically, Yalof Schwartz acknowledges, by slowing you down, meditation helps you accomplish more.
The meditation enthusiast and entrepreneur hopes to expand Unplug well beyond its initial location. Yalof Schwartz is unworried that she’ll turn the ancient art into “McMindfulness” by making it trendy and accessible, making Unplug the “Drybar” of meditation, distorting the message in the medium. In her recently published book, Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation for Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers, Yalof Schwartz writes with conviction about “the gap,” a transcendent state she describes as a “perfect moment of complete awareness, peace, and relaxation.” Accessing that place in your brain pulls you to the present—it’s there that the surrounding chaos falls mute, calm rises, and clarity is achieved. What Buddhists call Nirvana.