How often do you press pause? Put away your technology for an hour and be present wherever you are? How often do you just sit and give your mind the space to declutter and unwind?
It’s easy to use what we do as an excuse to always be on autopilot and overdrive. I could tell you that I’m a full-time student, I co-run a travel writing and photography publication on campus, I work for a start-up doing wonderful things to create community in the wellness space, and also work part-time at a badass boxing studio. I could hide behind all the labels that I wear, using them as an excuse to be too busy to take time for myself. If I did that, I would be doing myself a disservice.
Busy is one of my least favorite words. I won’t get on a soapbox and wax poetic about how offensive I find it when people tell me they’re too busy to see me. It’s normal these days to have a lot on your plate, but we still have a choice in what we prioritize. And yes, there are days or weeks when work or school need to take priority because there are things that just have to get done. But we’re not robots, we can’t work forever, and if you ask me, it’s equally as important to carve out time on a Sunday morning to go for a walk in the sunshine as it is to carve out the time to study for a really important exam.
And since the term balance gets my perfectionist tendencies trying to figure out how to achieve the perfect state of equilibrium, I generally prefer to think about flow. Sometimes you put more of your energy in one direction, and then you shift it in another direction. Sometimes the seesaw is teetering from side to side, other times it’s chilling with a little more stability. The moral of the story being, instead of trying to be perfectly in balance all the time, I think it’s important to be aware of when you’re expending too much of your energy in one place, and when you might need to put some of your energy into yourself instead.
Last week was one of those weeks where by Tuesday, I felt like I needed it to be Friday. I was running around the city without taking the time to feel my feet planted on the ground. I had let autopilot take over and I was in the back seat, scrambling to stay along for the ride. But on Thursday evening, a school assignment inspired, allowed, and required me to carve out some time to recharge my battery. Instructed to observe a ritual, I set off to attend a New Moon Autumn Equinox Ceremony.
Now, if you’re wondering how we went from talking about taking care of ourselves to new moon ceremonies, bear with me for a second.
After taking off my shoes, I crossed the threshold into an oasis. White walls, clean lines, potted plants, and crystals provoked an exhale of relief and of release. I sat on a pillow on the floor, holding a copper cup of water with a purifying crystal at the bottom, and settled in to my surroundings. Sitting in a circle with several other women, I meditated. I sang. I sent prayers into the universe. I set an intention for the next moon cycle, the next thirty-some days, and also for the next season, as we transitioned into fall. I slowed my breathing. I thought not about the readings I had to do the next morning, but about ways I could create space for creativity and confidence in my life.
There was something about the space (which is quite literally known as Space by Mama Medicine) that made slowing down so much easier. On the fifth floor of a building in SoHo, Space is set back from the hustle and bustle of the street below. Every item in the wellness haven feels intentional and in its place. There is no clutter, no bright light, no loud noise. It welcomes you, and allows you, to let go of some of the tension that hides in your shoulders when you walk the streets of Manhattan. Natural beauty products line some shelves, and succulents line others. There is space for wellness treatments, and space to sit on the floor and listen during a workshop. I felt as though I had entered another world, one where each stranger in the room had my back, where I could take a load off and let it go. When I went back into the world an hour or so later, I was calmer. I felt in tune with what my body was asking me for (a snack, and an extra hour of sleep). I felt more at home in my body, too, more connected with myself and my surroundings.
I’m not trying to suggest that you have to seek out wellness oases in order to create space for self-care and slowing down. The new moon ceremony was a far more structured form of time to honor myself than I normally have, which, in some ways, is what made it so powerful. All I had to do was truly show up.
But there are so many other ways to press pause, to step back, to carve out time to do something that feels soothing and nourishing, whatever that may be. Maybe it’s writing in a journal or writing a poem, maybe it’s cuddling with a dog, maybe it’s listening to a favorite song or album, maybe it’s taking the time to cook for yourself or to paint your nails. Whatever it is, it’s the intention that matters. That you’re making a choice to prioritize yourself. And if you haven’t put yourself first in a while, if you haven’t taken the time to do something for you, to do something you love, I’d encourage you to press pause on all the things you “should” be doing, and make a date with yourself ASAP. There’s something pretty magical about showing yourself some compassion and appreciation.
And, if you get the chance to visit the comforting, stress-clearing haven that is Space by Mama Medicine, I would urge you to spend a little time in that oasis. You may just find me there as a stowaway, curled up in the corner between some crystals and succulents.
Space by Mama Medicine, 73 Spring Street #501, New York NY, 10012