Shelley Lewis wants to provide calm amidst the chaos.
Creative from a young age, the British-born entrepreneur and publisher first moved to New York City to work in the art world. But, after an eyeopening work trip abroad, she realized that her calling had more to do with spreading a message of peaceful repose in modern life.
In her early twenties, she published, A Key To The Heart, an award-winning children’s book that received accolades from the likes of First Lady Laura Bush and J.K. Rowling. At anti-aging clinic, Personal Best, she acted as communications director, integrating positivity practices and coaching. Finally, inspired by a passion for meditation and designing creative lifestyle solutions, in 2014, Lewis founded New York’s Sacred Space, a healing destination for inner guidance practices and bodywork techniques for releasing stress.
Here, Lewis shares why taking an authentic look within is worth the effort:
Live The Process: You have an unusual approach to problem-solving. To what do you credit that instinct for creative thinking?
Shelley Lewis: My father was a Type A entrepreneur. Yet, when I turned about 11, he suddenly became very interested in spirituality. Later, he said that the School of Philosophy in the U.K. saved him. So, my teenage years were spent painting (which I loved), going to Liverpool to listen to Jeremy Healy and Carl Cox and devouring any literature I could find that had to do with self-growth.
Then, I moved to New York and my mentor was so original in all his thought processes that he couldn’t even see his box! And so my already inquisitive and curious nature evolved even further. I suppose it gave me a kind of “anything is possible” mentality; it made me think I was capable of things that others considered impossible. Maybe it was my naiveté, maybe it was my courage. I still haven’t figured that out.
LTP: How did you end up transitioning from art into well-being and philanthropy? How does that interest in helping others manifest today?
SL: I moved to New York to work at Christie’s in Post-war and Contemporary Art, but really I just wanted to travel and do impactful work. So, about two years later, I got involved in a project with the National Science Foundation: I visited Bangladesh as a field officer to oversee test results of a program they were sponsoring. It totally changed my life. I came back, quit the art world and picked up my “real work”—the work that was unique to me, that I felt I was designed to do. It took the poignancy of that experience to get me on my path. So, my turning point really had to do with an awakening to my own humanity rather than an obsession with the world of the Beautiful.
My publishing company for children, Chocolate Sauce, is my “give back.” We’re currently working to build libraries in underserved parts of the world and have some pretty interesting partnerships in the works. It makes me uncomfortable that there is so much excess while so many people are in need.
LTP: How and when did you come to found Sacred Space NY? What do you offer there and what makes it unique?
SL: My long-standing practice of meditation spurred my interest to develop Sacred Space NY as a means to help New Yorkers (and other stimulated overachievers) find their inner calm. As New Yorkers, we are the most active workforce in the world and rare quiet time is at a premium.
I wanted to combine my love of art and design with a well-being philosophy that supports the transformative power of the individual to harness his or her own inner healing abilities. I think pervasive technology is interrupting our natural patterns of wakefulness and, while we’re adapting to it, our inability to “switch off” is causing us to lose touch with ourselves and each other in really profound ways.
Our all white design helps us experience a meditative mind-state we like to call “white space.” It reflects a pure blank canvas back to us on which we can rewrite our own stories and set the intention to design our lives as we dream them to be. It’s never too late to start fresh.
I’m excited as this fall we’re taking the show on the road with our Serenity on the Go experiences and other pop-up wellness events around the city. Whether at our flagship healing pod inside of Yelo or on the go, our focus is always on curating experiences of healing and oneness for our clients. The therapeutic nature of meditation and healing bodywork techniques helps us rewire and reset. Specifically, our Art of Reconnection experiences are designed to help New Yorkers move out of a fight-or-flight mindset to deepen tranquility and compassion. Sometimes it’s as simple as holding space for people to be.
LTP: What are your current wellness obsessions?
SL: I’m a mad Physique 57 fan. I’ve been practicing at the studio for four years. I like it because it’s demanding, but not overly strenuous and I think women need exercises that support their feminine. I also love my new Elvie, a kegel/pelvic floor exerciser. It’s totally convenient; you can use it anywhere!
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
SL: A long sit in a peaceful place; giggles with loved ones; my English wellies, tea, misty mornings, oak trees, turquoise waters, wild beaches, my dogs and family and a nice glass of red wine beside the fire after a long walk.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
SL: Mahatma Gandhi said, “In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness.”
I think a lot of people have this sense that spirituality is woo-woo. I think it’s fierce, not a journey for the faint-hearted. It calls you to ask all the big questions, to constantly evolve and deal with your shadow self. That means no comfort zones, no safe harbors: simply a willingness to be open and ready to embrace whatever life throws your way.
My “Live The Process” moments are early morning White Space sits. They can happen anywhere or in Sacred Space, but the technique is the same: I breath in to release any stress and frustrations I’ve accumulated the day before. To cleanse my mind and nurture my body, I slowly set an intention for the day or connect with my intention for the week. It helps me keep on track.
One of the keys to living with a “feet forward” attitude is experiencing gratitude in life for everything we encounter. It helps us contextualize our experience in a way that always keeps us looking ahead.
Especially in this town, I think one of the goals is to remain gentle in your heart, open to new experiences and kind to others and still get things done.