Bright Lights: Nikki Walton Helps Listeners Have a Good Morning
Nikki Walton is in the business of brightening mornings—one show, one meditation, one listener at a time.
After launching CurlyNikki.com in 2008, Walton reached millions of women in more than 30 countries with natural hair care tips and best practices through her blog and media appearances. Soon she was everywhere—Today, The Tyra Banks Show, The New York Times, Forbes, Essence—but she sensed that something was definitely missing, even amid so much success. She found her focus shifting, and today her daily podcast GoOD Mornings helps listeners worldwide find “peace in chaos, love in fear, silence in noise, and light in darkness” by starting their mornings off right with a mini meditation retreat.
Searching for Something More
Walton couldn’t deny the emptiness that accompanied her success. “There were moments of peace, but there was also a hollowness,” she notes. This wasn’t exactly a new sensation: Walton says that as a kid, she often felt out of place, and in her early professional roles, she had a strong sense that the work she was doing was just not what she was meant to do in life.
In 2013, Walton began her own spiritual deep dive, reading hundreds of books related to spirituality. She was raised Catholic but saw herself as a questioner, which wasn’t always well-received. For about two years, she was still CurlyNikki in her public persona—but in private, she was developing a felt faith, reading books and adopting a regular chanting and meditation practice. She explored nondualism, Hinduism, the Adi Granth (Sikh Bible), and the mystic poets, and she found they were really all focused on the same idea: teaching us to practice love.
At the end of 2015, her grandmother made her transition. For Walton, this was a worst-nightmare scenario. She had been very close to her grandma and had started to fear her death. But when it was time, Walton was by her grandmother’s side, and all she felt was the love.
For Walton, daily meditation has been a key element in her spirituality. She begins each day at 5 a.m. with the Mahā-mantra or Hare Krishna mantra, a chanting practice that takes her about an hour and a half to complete. It is an early start, but the solitude is worth the effort.
“At 5 a.m. I don’t have to be anyone to anyone else,” she says. Walton treats it as an essential part of the day—just as crucial as eating food, drinking water, or getting sleep. “When you start showing up like that, it becomes a way to make life a meditation, not just your formal sitting practice.”
One of the biggest surprises on her journey was realizing that the more you think you know, the more you probably don’t know. That could lead to feelings like overwhelm or uneasiness, but Walton cheerfully points out that the sitting and the not-knowing is the whole game.
“Just sitting with myself, I often find the answer that I need,” Walton says. “But there’s this feeling that can come up where I wonder if maybe a sixteenth-century sage knows more than me, and then I have the urge to go looking elsewhere.”
A Practice of Doing Less
Whether with hair care or spirituality or any number of facets of life, doing less can be the trick to making more out of our lives. “You have to take out everything, you have to subtract a lot of things, and you’re left with who you are,” Walton says. Cut the chemicals from your hair care routine. Unlearn tension in your body and your relationships. Become aware of your natural state and nurture that—not the scaffolding that can be so easy to build up around it. Still, she says there’s no need to put pressure on yourself.
“You don’t have to become expansive,” she says. “Just breathe into it and remember that there’s nothing you need to add.”
Walton describes a common shift when people start making one change and then experience the urge to shed other habits or to let go of thought patterns that no longer serve them. Investing in your morning routine, for example, can afford you the energy to make healthier lifestyle decisions.
There’s no reason to discount your past or your unrelated experiences, she adds, which can be a great help when trying something new. Walton says her experiences on daytime television and on the radio as CurlyNikki taught her how to speak succinctly and to deliver a powerful message quickly and directly. Moving on from a job, career, hobby, or practice does not mean you must abandon the skills or the lessons they gave you. Finding new ways to benefit from those experiences is part of the joy of the journey, she points out, and can often be a helpful reminder of what we already have, rather than constantly seeking new tools or perspectives.
Although it can be easy to tell ourselves we need something new to unlock healing or to make the change we want to see in our lives, Walton says the magic is in committing to a practice.
“I’m sure you have a great plan already—just commit to it!” she advises. “Do it like it’s going to pay you, because it will, and often in unexpected ways.”
This is also when turning to others for advice or support can end up clouding our own intuition. “You already know the answer. You don’t have to turn to anyone else,” Walton adds. “Sit in the Silence to hear what it is—and once you know, you start.”
Showing Up Every Morning
In 2021, Walton was doing a monthly show for the Be Here Now Network, a podcast network inspired by the work of Ram Dass, when the thought suddenly came to her to do a daily show. Looking back now, she says it did not make logical sense to commit to a show every single day. “It was starting before I even thought I was ready,” she says with a laugh.
Within a few weeks, however, Walton (and her new show, GoOD Mornings) had been featured on The Breakfast Club, a popular morning program featuring celebrity interviews. She gained hundreds of new listeners. The podcast, which is released each weekday at 1 a.m. (CT), includes five to 10 minutes of guided meditation, inspirational wisdom, and practical tips for embracing your spirituality.
Walton says she keeps expecting to run out of words, but it’s not really her doing the talking. “It’s not Nikki who’s under pressure, because Spirit always shows up,” she says. Likewise, she describes her writing process as showing up, “an allowing,” to see what message arrives. While her CurlyNikki persona gave her the chance to share an exploration of hair care, GoOD Mornings is a chance to share her spiritual exploration. “Learning to love my hair was my own private journey made public,” she says, “and learning to go deeper and to find peace was my own private practice made public.”
Nikki Walton is a podcaster, author, and beauty expert. Follow her on Instagram at @CurlyNikki, and download GoOD Mornings wherever you listen to podcasts.
This article appeared in Unity Magazine.