Singer J Balvin is sharing a personal essay about his struggles with anxiety and depression  — and how meditation has been a helpful tool in improving his mental health. 

By J Balvin
June 24, 2020 08:55 AM
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J Balvin
Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty

It’s funny — there are a lot of things in life that we don’t hesitate to call universal.

Sports are universal. Love is universal.

And you can trust this kid from Colombia who followed his dream: Music is universal.

Even though we each have our own personal experiences with these things, we are also all a part of a larger collective experience. There is a connective fabric.

There is something shared.

This is beautiful to me, and so important.

But there are other things out there that are also universal — and unfortunately we don’t talk about them as much. Maybe they’re not as obvious. But they’re just as important.

One of those is mental health.

What makes mental health universal is that it does not discriminate. Mental health doesn’t care about your age, your race, your background; none of those things. It doesn’t care what you look like, or who you’re dating, or how much money you have in the bank. Of course it’s different for each of us. But it affects all of us.

The truth is, anyone in the world can struggle with their mental health.

And yet not everyone is ready to accept this.

I know that firsthand because I have gone through it myself. For one, because I am an artist who has had success, no one thinks I could ever have anxiety. But I have struggled with anxiety. And also, because I am Latino — I know there can be a certain stigma in my community when it comes to mental well-being. Many Latino men will not want to talk about depression, because they fear it is not a manly thing, or that they will then be known as loco. But I don’t hesitate to say that I have been depressed.

There are many ways that I have dealt with my mental health. I have gone to see doctors. I have taken medication. These things are essential. But one other method that has meant everything to me — and is the reason I’m writing this — is meditation.

Meditation, to me, can be one of the key first steps in achieving mental and spiritual well-being.

Why? Because in many ways it is the most natural step. Meditation is about opening your mind to self awareness. It’s about understanding that your mind isn’t just an idea — it’s a living, breathing thing, something that needs to be cared for and looked after. Meditation is the act of mental hygiene.

And meditation is something that — for as long as I have this big platform — I want to help promote to the world.

Which is why I have partnered with Chopra to launch a FREE, 21-day meditation experience, guided by Deepak Chopra — a pioneer in spiritual well-being — and myself. It focuses on a few big concepts: resilience, healing, and what it means to create a new version of our lives.

(L-R) J Balvin and Deepak Chopra
Chopra

I am hoping that, with this experience, many more people will explore meditation — and will start letting mindfulness play a role in their daily lives. I believe, if we can make our collective world even just a little more in tune with our mental health, then this partnership will have been a huge success.

Then we’ll truly be thinking on that universal level.

But the universal, again, is also the personal. And for me, this is personal. Which is why in many ways the person who I’m most looking to reach with this program is a past version of myself. I’m looking to reach the person who thinks that meditation could never be for someone like them — or for a community like their own.

And that goes especially for this moment we’re currently experiencing: where money is so tight for many; health is such a question mark on a global level; and the fight for racial justice is more urgent than ever. Our Black brothers and sisters are fighting to be represented and heard — and fighting for their lives. I stand with them.

When our world is in flux, our mental wellbeing is often one of the first things we neglect. But this should not be the case.

In fact, it’s in times like these that mindfulness can help us most.

Which is why it’s simply not enough anymore to have a product that’s for everyone — access has to be for everyone, too.

And it’s because of this that I’m proud to tell you: Renew Yourself won’t only be free, it will also be Chopra’s first-ever bilingual partnership. Even just writing that makes me excited. I love the thought of it. Millions of people around the world….. now able to open their minds, their bodies, their spirits in Spanish. Now able to be a part of that connective fabric.

Now able to find that something shared.

I’m just a kid from Colombia who followed his dream, and meditation saved my life.

Who knows what it will do for yours?