Meditation City: Why You’ll Love the Relaxing Be Time Bus

Meditation City: Why You’ll Love the Relaxing Be Time Bus

I could feel my boots kicking up water as I bobbed and weaved down the sidewalk. Man, I hate that, I grumbled as I tried to keep my umbrella from poking any innocent tourists in the eye. How fitting, I thought, that as I was making my way to a mobile meditation and relaxation studio I’d become so aware of the small pet peeves that clutter our minds. Letting the zen sounds in my earbuds fill the space between thoughts, I pleaded with myself to slow down, but not be late.

When I finally made it to the BE TIME bus quietly perched on 42nd street between 6th avenue and Broadway, I was mesmerized by the glow of the serene face painted onto the black exterior. Even in the hustle and bustle of New York City, amidst grey clouds and downturned faces, the bus looked peaceful on this little corner of the Earth.

Entrepreneurs are always on the go. Finding time to be still can at times be hard to come by. BE TIME is on a mission to change that. When you first see this quiet sanctuary it smiles and calls gently to you. I remember discovering the mobile meditation and relaxation studio as it sat quietly near Madison Square Park one June day. The flow of sunlight illuminated the rays of the smiling decal, and beckoned for anyone passing by to step in.

Be Time Bus Exterior - Black
Photo Courtesy of Be Time, by Matt Roy

BE TIME just celebrated their New York City launch this past January with family and friends testing. In February they opened the doors to their classes and the team, led by CEO and Founder, Carla Hammond, has been steadily spreading the joy of meditation and mindfulness ever since. As an entrepreneur and mother of twins, Carla has seen the importance wellness plays in staying grounded.

I had the pleasure of experiencing the bus first hand and chatting with Carla about how BE TIME is bringing bliss to one of the busiest cities around. In a day and age where getting peace of mind is becoming more and more sacred, having 15 to 30 minutes to vibe out is a blessing. I hope you’ll enjoy stepping into this gem with me and learning more about the inspiration behind the BE TIME bus below. For more chill vibes catch their meditation memes on Instagram.

•••

As the door opens and I climb into the quiet sanctuary, I watch all my thoughts float away. Light sweet scents of jasmine fill the interior, and a vibrant pink glow from behind the white curtains summon me and another attendee into the space. The interior of the BE TIME bus opens with cubbies and flows into two rows of lined meditation seats. I glide down the aisle, taking note of the neatly folded charcoal blankets, wheeled cushions and seats with back support.

Our instructor, Prerna, greets us warmly and fills us in on the two different seat options. To keep my legs from falling asleep, she suggests I grab one of the cushions. Once I take my seat, she explains to me and the other woman, seated towards the back and to the left, that the weighted blankets are to provide an added measure of grounding. The blanket feels secure and soothing across my lap. Which makes sense, considering Prerna also shares that the blankets were originally designed to imitate human contact for autistic children who find touch too intense. Ah, safety. I can get used to this.

Inside Be Time Studio (Pink Lights)
Inside the Be Time mobile meditation and relaxation studio!

I run my fingers across the interior of the bus, feeling the small metal etchings through where the soft rose LED light beam out. The orb, or oculus eye, where Prerna is seated unifies the entire space. Raindrops gently ricochet off the bus. It’s a nice rhythmic lullaby.

Prerna asks us to close our eyes and begin to let go, to let the city meltaway. Begin breathing gently, she encourages us. In and out. In and out. With my eyes closed the jasmine scents begin dancing on my nose. The raindrops sound closer, and the swish of cars seems to draw ever nearer. With her melodic voice, she challenges us to forget the outside and create space. Today’s practice Be Love, focuses on patience and compassion. The breath is just the first step.

We sink in with creative visualization. Seeing ourselves sitting across from us, we send out a blessing from our heart to this mirror image. Then to a number of loved ones: a friend or family member we love deeply, a spouse or partner we miss, someone we care for, a buddy we aren’t necessarily on good terms with, an acquaintance we don’t know well but would recognize.

Wide view inside Be Time meditation studio - pink lights
Meditation seats and cushions.

As we cycle through each visualization, I feel the tension rise up and out of my body. My shoulders droop down, my breath finds it’s pace, my crown begins to tingle. My thoughts start to wander away, and I let them go. I let them circle around as I see parents, siblings, exes, friends appear before my mind’s eye, smiling and full of joy. One or two of them even sticks their tongue out at me. My cheeks find their way up to my eyes, my smile spreading as I send them a blessing heart to heart. The inside of the bus hugs me gently. I feel the love walking through my body.

The thought of lightly falling asleep in the middle of New York City, in one of the busiest cross streets, without a care in the world is lost on me. When I finally come to, it’s to the gentle notes of Prerna’s telling us to wiggle our fingers and our toes. In that moment I realize my foot has hit the snooze button, and I thank it for the power walk it put in to get me here. Following one more in and out breath, I let my eyes flutter open the way Prerna suggests.

The hustle and bustle of New York City come floating in, softer, kinder, a bit more easeful this time. How lovely, I think, to be able to take this time out in the day. I thank our instructor and step back out into the rain, letting the drops soak me in their serenity.

•••

Dronile: Hey Carla. Thanks so much for being open to talking with me and sharing more about the BE TIME mobile meditation and relaxation studio. The first time the bus caught my eye was right near Madison Square Park in the middle of the summer. I’d never heard of or even imagined a mobile meditation and relaxation studio. A lot of our creatives and entrepreneurs want to create something meaningful and different like your meditation bus, but have yet to found that *spark*. I’d love for you to share with the community what inspired you to start BE TIME?

Carla: I practice at home so 4 years ago when my twins arrived, and it got a little crazy I found myself wishing for a quiet, cozy space where I could visit at least once a week to do my thing. There weren’t any formal meditation studios back then and the meditation classes that were offered were at inconvenient times or locations, so I realized there was an opportunity in the market for studio/space like this. I then started noticing the food truck movement and it suddenly clicked – imagine creating a mobile meditation studio?! That way we could serve more people and more locations… and BE TIME was born.

Dronile: That’s such a beautiful visualization! A meditation space that comes to you. As you mentioned, apps like Headspace and studios like MNDFL are just the start of the meditation movement happening now in our culture. You’re really passionate about giving people “time to just be.” I love that it’s reflected in the name. How did it come about for you? Did it come organically or were you mulling over the name for some time?

Carla: It actually came about pretty organically – I was always inspired by having a space where we could all have some “me time” and just let ourselves disconnect, reconnect and BE. Because that is what I believe meditation offers us. I feel like we forget to set that time aside for ourselves in the midst of our busy lives. So, in the spirit of mixing “being” with making time, the name BE TIME came about.

BE TIME Studio Interior (Blue lights)
Photo Courtesy of Be Time

Dronile: As a society we definitely don’t take enough “me time.” We’re constantly plugged in, turned on and connected. Based off this idea of disconnecting, BE TIME offers 6 different opportunities to do so: Be Creative, Be Here, Be Intention, Be Love, Open Space, Quick Rest. Tell me more about these classes. How’d you zero in on what to offer and what was needed?

Carla: We wanted to make sure that we offered people the opportunity to explore different meditation techniques – mantra/intention repetition, mindfulness, creative visualization – so we integrated that into these thematic focuses for everyone to try out.

 The Open Space was created for people who might have their own practice and prefer to enjoy that or use their favorite app while in our serene environment.

 Quick Reset was made for people on the go – it has been proven that even 10-15 minutes of meditation practice per day does wonders for both mind and body!

Dronile: That’s dope. I had a chance to try out the Be Love practice with creative visualization and it was really calming and peaceful. The space plays a huge role in that as well. The interior of the bus looks absolutely stunning! Architects Rolando Rodriguez Leal and Natalia Wrzask of AIDIA Studio created a very futuristic vibe with laser-cut wall paneling and high-tech LED lighting. Clearly, there was a lot of intention behind how to mix mindfulness and wellness into the space. There’s aromatherapy, there’s chromotherapy, there’s weighted blankets. What was the interior design process like? What were you hoping people would feel when stepping onto the bus?

Carla: I’m so glad you enjoy it! The idea was to create a unique and unexpected space where you can walk out of the city hustle and walk in to a sound-proof and expansive-feeling cocoon that welcomes you to take a breather and promote a deep and personal experience.

 An oculus serves at the far end of the studio acting as a focal point – the third eye of centered consciousness and the interior lining pattern derived from studies of sacred geometries and fractals, taking cues and inspiration from nature and the universe.

 The fruit of life symbol was used as the base module for the wall pattern. McKenzie then helped this design come to life incorporating efficiency, safety and durability elements including: an efficient diesel ten-kilowatt industrial generator to comply with NYC’s strict idling laws, high durability flooring, kinetic switches, air purifiers, and insulated walls for temperature and noise control, amongst other key elements.

Be Time Studio Pink Lights
Photo Courtesy of Be Time, by Matt Roy

Dronile: Wow. I actually didn’t know you’d need ten-kilowatts of diesel in NYC! That’s a lot. Food truck entrepreneurs take note. :-p I’d love to transition now to your journey, Carla, as a business owner. You started in the non-profit world as an International Relations professional and shifted to entrepreneurship. What was that like? Did you have business experience beforehand? How’d you navigate the leap?

Carla: I had a career in the non-profit sector and, somehow always landed at start-ups. That really gave me great insight and experience into how to build an organization from the bottom-up and those skills have helped me tremendously in starting out this new venture.

 That said, I had no idea the amount of learning and challenges I would be facing! There has been a constant learning curve that I am trying to adapt to everyday. It can be overwhelming at times but it is also part of what makes it fun and keeps me on my toes!

Dronile: Your story is really encouraging. Many business owners fear that they need to come out of the gate already knowing it all. But you’re affirming that someone can build their dreams while still learning.

When BE TIME launched with classes this past February, you’d been meditating since the age of 15. Which is incredible! And you’re a mom to twins. What role has meditation and mindfulness played in your life since starting? How do you keep both at the center of your day as an entrepreneur and a mother?

Carla: My first experience meditating at 15 has been a practice that I keep on coming back to, having it be a constant presence in my life. This project, along with my children, has been one of the best ways to truly use my practice: when things seem like just too much and/or there is a problem to troubleshoot I make a conscious effort to come back to my breath and focus on the present moment, on what I can do now. That is how I try to go about my every day.

Be Time Exterior 2
Photo Courtesy of Be Time, by Matt Roy

Dronile: “Focus on the present moment.” Love! We’re seeing more and more mothers strive to create that work/life balance and be present. Have you seen motherhood affect your role as a business owner?

Carla: I have had to be very strategic and careful with my time.  And I am going to be honest, it can be a lot to handle! I used to feel guilty sometimes when I missed my kids and I realized I am not spending as much time as I would like with them, but then I remember that I am teaching them how to work hard and follow their dreams; I remember how fulfilled and happy I feel by having the opportunity to do so – and that translates onto them.

 I want to offer them that example. Although I might have less time to spend with them at the moment, I make sure that I am being truly present during the time we are together. I believe that is the best gift you can give anyone: your mindful attention. Quality can be so much more valuable than quantity.

Dronile: What advice would you have for other women looking to start their own businesses and be their own boss?

Carla: I would suggest that they explore that spark. Sit down and write things out. Make it real. Transform that into a business plan. Look into the current offerings – how can yours be unique? Once you have that, take responsible baby steps into it. Find mentors who can help guide you along. Trust your inner compass. If all aligns – give it your all!

Dronile: That’s great advice Carla, thank you! BE TIME is “committed to providing meditation classes to as many people and in as many locations as possible.” With the huge success you’ve had so far in NYC, what’s next? What’s on the horizon?

Carla: We have exciting new things in the pipeline, starting with the launch of our merch line in the coming month! We are exploring the many opportunities presenting themselves for BE TIME to expand its offering in inviting people to meditate and make it a cool, essential part of their everyday wellness routine. We‘ll keep you posted and hope you will join the meditation movement!

Dronile: Thanks so much Carla! I’m really excited to continue to see BE TIME and the meditation movement grow. I hope more and more creatives, entrepreneurs and business owners will carve out space in their day to unwind and disconnect.

A Change of Heart: 8 Ways to Start Healing from Trauma

A Change of Heart: 8 Ways to Start Healing from Trauma

I begged God to kill me that night. I was laying on my parents’ couch ringing in the New Year and wishing for an end. Seeing trauma and abuse for what it is, comes and goes in waves. Like healing. It’s challenging to disentangle yourself from traumatic events and abusive relationships but not impossible. Many who end up in relationships with narcissists, for example, come to see the patterns that kept them hooked began within their own family or circle of friends. Being a highly sensitive and empathetic person can make you more attractive to individuals healing from trauma, even their own. The highs and lows of an emotionally and mentally debilitating relationship affects everything from your self-worth to your work productivity.

At times family, good friends, and beloved ones may not understand your healing process. The lingering effects of trauma helped me renew my faith and commit to a life with Jehovah. It has come with its challenges. Overcoming PTSD, releasing feelings of unworthiness and letting go of the cycle happen slowly. Relationships, in general, are challenging, and overcoming abuse – whether physical, emotional, verbal or sexual – will not be any different.

But there is hope.

The first and hardest step is to recognize the trauma and abuse. Seeing it for what it is will take listening to your own intuition and feelings. Over time, the patterns will become apparent. Acknowledging and accepting the events that brought on the pain will mean creating distance between yourself and the individuals involved. If it’s a family member, this can be a challenge because as a society we’re taught familial ties are sacred. Figuring out how to best protect yourself and your mental health will be a continuous process. There have been a number of things that have helped me in this journey and I hope will help you bring peace back into your life too.

Pray, pray, pray

If there’s anything that has pulled me through, it’s been prayer. My relationship with God has been a blessing in my life and has kept my spirits up in times when I thought I could not go on any longer. If you’re new to prayer, there are a number of prayers online or even within the Bible that can be encouraging in times of difficulty. The prayer cards at Prayer for Anxiety are my favorites. This site has prayers for healing a broken relationship, anxiety, and stress, even for family. You can also find prayers through Google or Pinterest. Creating a prayer routine first thing in the morning and the last thing at night can give you the spiritual nourishment to take on another day.

Find your spiritual community

Surrounding yourself with a positive, uplifting and loving community can provide you with strength and peace of mind. Your community may not know what you’re going through, and even if you don’t feel comfortable discussing it you can be encouraged that you have a community that cares for you, and welcomes you with open arms. Being surrounded by others of faith has helped turn around some of my most challenging days. As a result of community, I’ve felt more confident in using my voice and sticking up for myself. Finding your own tribe and people to turn to can help alleviate your recovery as well.

Listen to meditation music

Or switch on the affirmations. Trauma and the lingering effects of abuse can lodge itself deep into our bones, living in our subconscious for years and causing us to play out the same patterns over and over… and over After that New Year’s night, I realized there was a lot of self-hatred I needed to eradicate within myself. I struggled with thinking I deserved to be treated in a disrespectful and unloving manner.

These kinds of thoughts and feelings can take years to overcome, and meditation music is a very soothing way to heal those subconscious limiting beliefs. YouTube is full of music! From soft healing meditation music to open the heart and heal the chakras to positive spoken affirmations that you can listen to while sleeping. I’ve even begun running with affirmations in my headphones. They’re so powerful and can help you train your mind to focus on the positive life you desire and see for yourself.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Do something you love

Getting up and out of bed is probably the last thing someone in a depressive or post-traumatic state wants to do. As a result of your job or if you’re self-employed, your business may suffer greatly. What I’m about to say is crazy but… let them suffer. I know, that’s not what people will tell you but listen, if you can’t get through an hour of work without bursting into tears (*raises hand* hey, hello. My name is Dronile) or feeling intense physical pressure in your head then your body is telling you, you need a break. You need to focus on yourself.

In this day and age where we’re always on, we don’t often times have space to just let everything go, and focus inward. Bills require our attention now, that client from yesterday is still waiting for you to email them back, and time is money. Yeah, I get it. I also get that you and your life are way more precious than these temporary problems. So pick one thing, one thing that you really enjoy doing and let that motivate you to get up. For me, that was writing and reading. If I couldn’t get through the day, I would sit and journal. Mentally, give yourself the space to work through the fog and blocks to return with a strong frame of mind.

Get out in nature

Can I just tell y’all? Bugs and me… were not friends. Growing up, I’d squirm at the sight of an ant crawling up my leg. (Okay… so maybe I still do. LOL) Recently though, I’ve come to enjoy sitting in the grass or spending time by the water. Nature is full of serenity. Full of life and energy. Watch the way the leaves sway with a cool breeze, or how a dog bounces alongside its master. Surrounding yourself with nature can help take your mind off the challenges you’re currently experiencing and instead give you positive moments of reflection.

Sweat it out

It’s true what the wellness experts say about exercise and depression. Because of the endorphins, getting your body moving can be the 1-2-soccer punch your feelings need to take a hike. After a long hiatus, I’ve finally begun strapping my running shoes back on and pulling the yoga mat out! It’s something I’d been affirming for months, and finally found the courage to add back into my life. You can do this slowly at first. Dancing in your living room to that jam from The Weekend, or taking a brisk walk during lunch time. Over time, your body will thank you and even begin to ask you for more.

Photo Credit: Pexels

Read uplifting texts

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, The Four Agreements, The Artist’s Way… all of these texts were so powerful in helping me regain balance on this journey. (If you’re interested in even more suggestions, check out this list of best business books full of spiritual reads). Self-help tends to get a pretty bad rep. Though it’s incredibly important for us to learn how to honestly help ourselves. Especially since others may not often know how to help us, despite wanting to or their best efforts to. Finding books and texts that are positive, and can provide insightful guidance can help ease that feeling of being in it alone. It can also provide you with strategies that you may not have previously thought of. One of my favorite practices, which came from reading Latham Thomas’s book “Own Your Glow: A Soulful Guide to Luminous Living” was a dream jar! Every night, before I went to bed, I would write down one dream or affirmation. “I am joyful. Good things are coming. I matter.” Etc. Every morning during my meditation, I would pull one out and focus on visualizing it. What it felt like, looked like, sounded like. Small practices like this can be found in a wide range of nourishing reads.

Give yourself… time…

Finally, the hardest one of them all. Time. If you’re anything like me, you want to heal now. Actually, yesterday would’ve been best considering your packed schedule. :-p True healing is a spiral though. The further we move away from the pain, the hurt and the experience the more intensely we may feel it later when some of those feelings get dug up. Giving yourself time means understanding the triggers.

Healing from trauma and abuse may find you questioning every time someone shows affection towards you because you’re wondering if there’s an expectation you’ll need to fulfill or if it’s truly unconditional. Coming to see those patterns clearly will take honest introspection, and the willingness to sit with those challenging emotions. As they say “you repeat, what you don’t heal.” So don’t be angry, or upset or in any way frustrated with yourself if 6 months, a year, even 2 years in you’re still grappling with the challenges of abuse. Be gentle with yourself, and question where those emotions are coming from to get true closure.

Are you currently in or healing from trauma, an abusive relationship or a painful situation?

Whether it be romantic, friendship or familial – I pray the practices above while help you find peace and encouragement. Most of all I pray you reach out and find support. Often times the first things to go in an abusive situation is our sense of self-worth and security. In my road to recovery, I have found each day gets a little bit better. I find I have a lot more mental clarity and am able to better focus on or manage my day.

While this can take months of pushing out of your comfort zone and actively fighting the will to give up, it will be encouraging to see positive changes happening in and around you. It will be encouraging to once again have hope and to believe in a better tomorrow. At times we all just need someone to be there and I hope if you ever need a friend, you can find one in me.

I’d love to hear from you. Tell me in the comments:

  1. If you’re in or recovering from an abusive situation, what 3 practices or resources have helped you move forward?

Your recovery may just be what someone else needs to hear to find peace today. I love you all. <3

Forever Yours 💞

Dronile

Let’s Talk About Health, Baby: 5 Ways to Practice Positivity

Let’s Talk About Health, Baby: 5 Ways to Practice Positivity

Photo by Godisable Jacob from Pexels

The whole room was a buzz. I was sitting towards the back, taking in the scene as laughter and chatter filled the Tribeca hall. Being in a room full of bloggers, influencers, writers, and other creative entrepreneurs felt so refreshing. To kick-off 2018, I attended the #BlogHer18 Health Conference in January, and was incredibly inspired by the powerful stories of such women as Camila Alves, Arianna Huffington and Latham Thomas.It was motivating to hear how these creative entrepreneurs practice positivity. All these wonderful women shared stories about finding strength in the midst of challenging times. Overcoming depression, fighting for their dreams, getting through heartache.

Being an artist is challenging.

As a self-proclaimed (and proud of it!) writer, artist and creative entrepreneur, I’m no stranger to the challenges entrepreneurship brings. The journey is littered with obstacles, or tests, to weed out the non believers from the believers: dreamers who don’t care for being “realistic.” Balancing money with creativity is one of the fun (and no lie messy!) parts of following your heart. Is it possible to get your mind right and not let the negative nancy keep you from heaven? YES! Hearing all of these strong women talk about mental health, building their own businesses and overcoming challenges made it very clear to me that being tested is part of the artist’s journey– it’s whether or not we give the test a try that determines our success.

#BlogHer18 Health table sign

The line between work and life when work IS your life requires positivity and tons of self-care. Whether you’re a newbie freelancer, disciplined moonlighter or a well-spiced entrepreneur, be sure to care for yourself!

Here are 5 ways to maintain an equal footing as you reach for the stars:

  1. Journal: True story, I go through a journal every 3 weeks. If there’s one accessory I can’t live without it’s my journal. Journaling is so therapeutic. It’s a great way to vent, visualize your dreams and affirm the life you’d like to live. In those moments when you’re feeling really stressed out, or angry grab a pen or your favorite notes app. I’m a true believer that our words become our life. Instead of venting to a friend and circulating negative energy, use your journal to let out all of those feelings. Have you ever noticed how your keyboard gets the brunt of your anger when these emotions well up? Scribbling furiously into a journal is a healthy way to release those pent up sentiments. You’ll literally feel so relieved once you do it, that maintaining a positive attitude will be that much easier.
  2. Meditate: One of the best tools for gaining clarity, clearing stress and staying mentally well is meditation. Just a week of consistent meditation can greatly benefit your work and mood. There are a number of resources that allow you to get into the zone, from free recorded sessions on YouTube to paid apps like Headspace and Calm. You can even enjoy meditation on your own! If you don’t meditate already start by finding a nice quiet spot. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Count each breathe – 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 as you inhale, and so on and so forth. Count up to 10, then repeat. Do this for 5 minutes your first week. The next week, challenge yourself to increase your time and sit for longer.
  3. Get Creative: Allowing yourself space to “play” and get your creative juices flowing are so so so necessary for keeping a positive attitude while on the grind. Listen to one of your favorite podcasts, watch a video or even create something outside of your usual medium. As a writer, I love taking up my pen and pad to doodle! I always end up with some really hilarious drawings and illustrations. They make me laugh so much that I do it time and time again for the positive release. Not only is it a fun way to use your creative muscle, you also get to explore a new art form! Don’t worry about being good at it, just have fun with it. It’s okay to be silly!
  4. Do Something Nice For Yourself: Saturdays have become my favorite day of the week. Yes, it’s the weekend. It’s also the day I pamper myself like a celestial Goddess. When was the last time you treated yourself like the Goddess you are? Treat yourself to a nice at-home pedi or put on your favorite lotion to de-stress. Spend an hour a week doing something just for you to boost your mood, and free your mind. Taking time for yourself is not selfish, it’s a necessity. So go ahead. Love up on yourself!
  5. Carve Out Time For Learning: Is there a class you’ve been meaning to take? A skill you’ve wanted to add? Diving into a new subject or topic of interest is food for your brain and soul. No matter your medium, learning is beneficial to today’s hustle, hustle, hustle mentality. These days, you don’t even have to step outside of your home to take a class! Sites like Skillshare, Coursera and Lynda.com make it super easy to dive into new interests.

As creators, staying positive and maintaining a healthy mental balance can be a challenge. Taking care of yourself while hustling hard can do wonders for your productivity though. An imbalance in any part of your well-being can cause you to feel sluggish, unmotivated and even depressed. Affecting not just your work but your happiness as well. The first step is to check in with yourself.

Remember, you’re human. Not a productivity robot.

Has staying positive and maintaining your mental health been a challenge for you as a writer or artist? What helps you keep balanced? I’d love to hear your favorite practices! Leave me a comment below.