President and CEO of Bennett & Company, and life-long spiritual seeker.
Jacalyn Bennett, a practitioner of Buddhist meditation throughout her life, imbues the power of this spiritual consciousness into all facets of her business. She has sustained a visionary and vibrant garment company, unique in being both a global trendsetter in design, and industry-leading lingerie manufacturer, for over thirty years.
Jacalyn’s constant vision is to dissolve the walls between our work life and our individual, spiritual consciousness; between the poetic and the practical – the frontier between them is there for the crossing.
Client relationships include Victoria’s Secret & Limited Brands (30+ years), Avon (15+), Lane Bryant (15+), Soma/Chicos (14+), Guess, Marks and Spencer.
My personal practice is…….
Ever since I was a child I have always been drawn to spiritual practice. Once I even thought that I was destined to be a nun, but now I know that my spiritual calling is to be of service to others through the world of my work.
I have taken a vow within Buddhism called the Bodhisattva Vow, which means that I will dedicate my life and my spiritual practice to inspire others to follow their own spiritual path.
The spiritual practices of the ancient Celtic and Roman Catholic traditions also resonate with me deeply. Being present in nature and the cycles of the seasons, and respecting the mysteries of the unseen world around us are daily practices for me.
How did you discover your practice?
My father was deeply respectful of spiritual practices from all faiths, and this respect fostered in me the curiosity to go out and seek my own practice.
During my travels to India and Sri Lanka in the early 70s, I experienced the profound reality of how spiritual practice can lead to enlightenment, and how this practice can actually make all of our lives more peaceful, prosperous and happy.
Why do you practice?
A deep level of insight into the nature of myself and the world is revealed through this practice, and this helps me and those around me in very meaningful and beautiful ways.
Gratitude is the blossoming and the fruit of it all.
How frequently and for how long do you practice?
My formal sitting practice is twice a day, every day, in the morning and at night, for about an hour. I schedule retreats into my calendar three or four times a year. I also do weekend retreats twice a month. And then just being outdoors in nature, silent, is pure nourishment for the soul.
What’s something that gets in the way of your practice and how to you move through it?
The stresses of work and the pains of life can easily interfere with my practice. But I know that to get through these things, the best thing for me is my practice.
What supports you in staying committed to your practice?
The Dharma, the Way and the Path. My Teachers, and my Sangha, my community and refuge.
I am part of an Insight Meditation Center that I co-founded with Matthew Daniel and Larry Rosenberg here in Newburyport, MA. I regularly attend classes here and retreats throughout the year. All are welcome to join us!
What role does your practice play in your work?
I wish to end the suffering of all beings, and I have found that one way I can do this is through designing, manufacturing and delivering beautiful garments with teams of so many inspired and beautiful people all over the world.
Describe someone you know whose practice inspires you.
My teacher and old friend Larry Rosenberg, who has dedicated his life to assimilating and translating the wisdom of Eastern mediation practices for the Western world. A spiritual pioneer and profound teacher. You can experience his wisdom at the Cambridge Insight Meditation Center, MA
And my other teacher and old friend Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne from Sri Lanka. He founded one of the largest community development organizations in the world in Sri Lanka called Sarvodaya (Development for All) and it has transformed that country over its fifty years. Dr Ari’s practice inspires so much because he has brought his own personal spiritual vision into the world through a real, grass roots development organization, and he has made so much good in the world through doing this. You can visit his website and support this organization here.
A practice I’d like to explore is….
With Vipassana, or Insight Meditation, a 2,500-year-old meditation tradition, we go ever deeper with continuous practice.
The deeper we go the more the mystery unfolds, of the universe and ourselves. Mediation practice is likened to playing the piano, the more you play the more practice you put in, the more sensitive and finely attuned the music becomes.
Anything else you’d like to share about practice.
Spirituality is a constant journey to ever unfolding mystery that is unique to each individual person. Continually seeking and deepening the right practice that resonates with our own individual intellect, spirit heart is the real meaning of this incredible and beautiful catastrophe of being fully alive.
Here are some books that have shaped my own spiritual practice…
Loving-Kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg
Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation by Larry Rosenberg
Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein
You can learn more about Jacalyn and her company here.
Photo of Jacalyn with her old friend and teacher Dr. A. T. Ariyaratne, founder of the Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka.