woman meditating with headphones

Her Short-form Podcast Is Crushing the Meditation Genre

Chel Hamilton’s Meditation Minis won the Best Religion and Spirituality Podcast from the Academy of Podcasters in 2017. “My big, crazy, audacious goal is that I would love to be the voice that calms a million people a week,” she says. Photo by Nursah Woods, courtesy of Chel Hamilton.

She entered the Bodhi Tree bookstore formerly on Los Angeles’ Melrose Avenue to browse shelves in search of ideas for more consistent employment, but Chel Hamilton felt less than optimistic. An Ohio native, she moved to Hollywood to work as a screenwriter, but after the birth of her son, she needed something more secure. She jotted down a list of potential opportunities, which included nursing and being a paralegal. But despite repeated run-ins with hypnotherapy advertisements in the newspaper and offhanded mentions from friends, Hamilton resisted adding hypnotherapy to the list. Then she heard a book fall. “I turn, and it was a book about hypnotherapy,” Hamilton, 49, says. “There was literally nobody around when the book popped itself off the table and fell with a loud thud on the floor behind me.” And with that, she capitulated. “I was like, ‘O.K., fine. I will put that stupid idea on the list. Whatever, universe.’”

More than a decade later, that “stupid idea” earns Hamilton accolades, awards, and income. Last year, Hamilton won Best Religion & Spirituality Podcast from the Academy of Podcasters for her guided meditation podcast, Meditation Minis. The weekly, 10-to-15-minute podcast has accumulated more than three million listens over its first 124 episodes and is considered one of the genre’s best shows.

However, the workload of seeing clients at the hypnotherapy clinic she founded in 2007, Columbus Ohio Hypnosis, combined with three years of producing podcasts, forced Hamilton to rely on her own art to find the peace of mind she seeks to give others. It’s a peace she struggled to find throughout her life. As a child, Hamilton went through talk therapy for her attention-deficit disorder and general anxiety. After enrolling in a one-year program at LA’s Hypnosis Motivation Institute, the nation’s first accredited hypnotherapy college, in 2006, she was convinced of hypnotherapy’s effectiveness despite a previous bias against it. It offered a refreshing, result-driven approach that differed from her frustrating talk-therapy experiences. “I thought that hypnosis was just something that my flaky LA friends would fall for. I’m a practical Midwestern girl; I don’t do that,” Hamilton says. “But hypnotherapy doesn’t really worry so much about why something is happening; it supports you in changing what you are doing in the present so you get a different result.”

After following the universe’s hints and gaining her hypnotherapy certification, Hamilton returned to her practical, Midwestern roots in 2007 and moved back to Ohio, selecting Columbus as the location for her hypnotherapy clinic. For eight years, Hamilton made a living seeing clients one-on-one at her clinic. However in 2015, she got the inspiration to return to her creative roots.

The idea to make a podcast combined her creative background with a financial opportunity that Hamilton had first noticed during her time at the Hypnosis Motivation Institute. During a tour of the school, she noticed that the school’s professors were turning their works into books, CDs, tapes, and DVDs. “I saw that and I said to myself, ‘A-ha! Residual income possibilities,’” Hamilton says. “So I saw I could make audio. I could do this hypnotherapy work, and have it grow larger than me.”

More than 100 episodes later, Hamilton still produces, records, edits, and uploads her own work from her Columbus apartment. She originally planned to record podcasts for just one year to gain greater exposure in her field. As the show gained popularity, Hamilton enjoyed knowing she was reaching more people than she ever could at her clinic.

I want every human in the world to wake up and be creating a life that they are absolutely excited to get out of bed and do.

“I definitely feel a sense of magical wonderment that it has touched so many lives, and the most amazing part of it is the emails I get from people,” Hamilton says. “Sometimes I read them, and I don’t have the words to write them back. I am just so moved by their experience of the show and how listening to it has transformed their lives. I never could have imagined that when I started the show.”

Listeners reviews indicate their approval in the iTunes podcast profile, where Meditation Minis boasts a five-star reputation thanks to 698 different user ratings. “Chel Hamilton has the smooth jazz voice that makes these meditation minis so relaxing,” one review reads. “Short, sweet, fits in my busy day, just perfect!” Another reviewer writes,“Chel is the best. If I want to get clear and centered, I go to Chel.”

Meditation Minis is designed to give listeners a short, positive burst of energy to help clear their minds during their busy schedules. The show’s brief runtime is an exception in the guided-meditation genre, where episodes often demand a half-hour or more. Pacifying music underlies Hamilton’s soothing voice as she paints reassuring landscapes and passes on positive messages to the subconscious. Hamilton strives to create an audio experience that people of all faiths, backgrounds, and belief systems can use to address daily anxiety and find peace in the everyday hustle. “I made a show that I would want to listen to, and I think that people really connect with not only the fact that I know how it feels to be anxious — literally how it feels to have panic attacks,” Hamilton says, referencing her own past. “I understand the pressures of being a parent, and I think people really connect with the fact that I seriously care.”

“I want every human in the world to wake up and be creating a life that they are absolutely excited to get out of bed and do.”

Hamilton says she treats each episode “like a piece of orchestra music.” Between creative conception, recording, and editing, episodes consume six to 12 hours, which takes time away from Hamilton’s own meditation practice. “You wake up one day, and you’re walking through your day, and you’re like, ‘Wait a second. How did I become so unpleasant?’” Hamilton says. “I was completely overworked and not honoring the fact that we only have a certain amount of energy.”

Hamilton realized a shift was necessary, and over the past year, she reduced her days at the clinic from five to three. This coming year, she plans to stop seeing clients one-on-one entirely, a decision she said she “hates.” However, it’s part of moving into a phase of life where she can do the most good. “I want every human in the world to wake up and be creating a life that they are absolutely excited to get out of bed and do. That would be heaven on earth to me,” Hamilton explains her goal is to hit one million weekly listeners. “That every human gets to wake up and feel excited to do their day. And I’d like to add more trees to the planet — lots and lots more trees.”

Jared Bomba earned his bachelor of arts in history with a minor in Hispanic cultures from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. An avid sports fan, his work experience includes time in college athletics and covering high-school sports for The Post-Standard and His other interests include travel, podcasting, history, and politics.