New Canaan’s Diane Nickelberg Barnett, a career real estate attorney who established her own practice in Queens, N.Y. 20 years ago, came to find meditation and yoga because her work was highly stressful and she sought balance.
She started teaching meditation and yoga 10 years ago, in New York City, at RBS in Stamford and through private lessons. Then one year ago, Nickelberg Barnett thought about starting her own permanent meditation business near home, and began looking for a location.
She found the perfect one.
“This is for anyone who has a stressful life,” Nickelberg Barnett said on a recent morning from Grounded Meditation, a serene space located in “the tower” at Pryority Wellness, a holistic wellness center at 45 Grove St.
“I mean, we don’t stop. We’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all the time. We’re always on the phone, multitasking. We don’t stop. Meditation allows us to stop. Just kind of take a pause and take a step back and that can be so beneficial because our minds are constantly going. If we can just settle our minds, that’s what meditation does for us. It’s 30 minutes. It’s really simple in that the technique is simple. People have to get used to the sitting down, being quiet and sitting still.”
With lit candles around the room, walls dotted with images of the Buddha and Ganesha, the elephant-headed god in Hinduism, Grounded Meditation has space for 15 people and Nickelberg Barnett continues to practice law full-time while she and a second instructor lead a broad range of classes, including a beginners’ class and a “meditation sampler,” every day except Sunday and Thursday.
A Long Beach, N.Y. native who earned a bachelor’s degree in child development at Cornell University and then a law degree at Queens College School of Law, Nickelberg Barnett is joined in the business by her husband Dr. Larry Barnett, a chiropractor who works as her publicist.
“The biggest challenge is we need to demystify meditation,” he said. “People have different ideas of what it is. Even before I started meditating I thought it was just kind of a Buddhist-Monk thing and I was going to wear a shawl. I had no idea really what it was and once I started, I realized it’s just something anyone can do. So right now we’re trying to educate people, demystify what it is and get them to incorporate it into their lives. Once they try it, they get it, they like it and want to come back.”
They’re in a good place to reach those people. Services offered at Pryority Wellness include massage therapy, acupuncture, pilates, personal training, infrared sauna and Ayurveda.
Pryority Wellness founder Julie Pryor said the wellness center “is all about helping our clients find their ideal paths to wellness.”
“It’s about the mind, body, spirit connection, and finding what works for each individual to achieve center and balance in their lives,” Pryor said. “The incredible thing about meditation is that it affects the whole person. It calms the mind, recharges the body and heals the spirit. It’s the ultimate mind-body practice—that’s the kind of programming Pryority clients are here for.”
Grounded Meditation has already joined the New Canaan Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber’s Laura Budd said, “With the hectic pace of a modern day life their services offer a wonderful opportunity for local residents. Grounded Mediation is a perfect complement to the self-care offerings at Pryority Wellness.”
Nickelberg Barnett, who is certified as a mediation instructor, said she is working toward transitioning away from her law practice and toward Grounded Meditation.
Asked what her long-term vision is for the business, she said, “I want to develop first, a community of meditators here in New Canaan. We’re doing different programs and we hope to eventually take it to the schools to do exam time meditation for students, maybe college application time mediation for students.
We’d like to take it to first responders, police and fire departments.”
Nickelberg Barnett added: “It’s such a beneficial practice for everybody, it’s not so much about making the money as it is about conveying the message and getting meditation out there and getting people involved in it and feeling the benefits of it.”