“People talk about stress as something we have to learn to live with, particularly anxiety,” she says. “Actually we can do something about stress.” She believes we need to change our mindset around what she sees as one of the greatest causes of suffering today. There is no such thing as “good stress”, she says. “People are tired, exhausted and stressed. And they compensate for that by all sorts of behaviours and habits. I want to bring us into a normal state, a balanced state that is healthy.”
Lavender is the least guru-like guru you could hope to meet. A Kiwi by birth, she talks in the no-nonsense style of the publishing CEO she was – “Rest is the funding mechanism for everything you do” – before discovering Vedic mediation in Sydney in her late-20s. In 2008, she set up the London and New York Meditation Centre with her American partner, Michael Miller, who she met on a retreat in India. The couple, now in their 50s, live in Notting Hill with their young daughter. They emit the sort of glow usually reserved for the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow. It’s not for nothing that they have built a following among burnt-out celebrities and stressed execs, with fees operating on a sliding scale from £400 to (you may need to sit quietly for a bit) £2,000 according to salary; their unwafty approach appealing to those who would run a square mile at the whiff of a joss stick.