By Nkechi Njaka. Photography by Eric Michael Ward.
“LISTEN TO YOUR BEING. IT IS CONTINUOUSLY GIVING YOU HINTS; IT IS A STILL, SMALL VOICE. IT DOES NOT SHOUT AT YOU, THAT IS TRUE. AND IF YOU ARE A LITTLE SILENT YOU WILL START FEELING YOUR WAY. BE THE PERSON YOU ARE. NEVER TRY TO BE ANOTHER.” —OSHO
We need to be our authentic selves in our most intimate relationships. This is only possible when we remove toxic and unproductive relationships from our lives. Consider approaching all relationships with mindfulness—from within, the use of body literacy and intuition.
I listen to my being, practice awareness and presence to help me navigate which relationships feed my soul and which ones deplete my energy. This. Is. A. Process.
The reason why I do this is because I am ultimately in the practice of creating a life of more abundance, ease, nourishment and joy—and people are a part of that.
It's important to mention people. People are everything.
Think about who you share space with—roommates, a partner, family, friends, co-workers, business partners, stranger in public spaces.
Now think about those who give you energy.
Now think about those who simply don't.
I keep a small group close who I feel safe to share my visions, dreams and goals with. I set boundaries and not let everyone or just anyone have my time—only those who literally add value to my life. Some may call this crazy. Some might call it selfish, self-serving or self-centered. I believe that it is energy efficient, nurturing and vital to my practice of being the greatest service to my vision. I experience so much more joy in my life now in my thirties than I did in my twenties because of this practice.
“AT EVERY STAGE OF LIFE, OUR INNER SELF REQUIRES THE NURTURANCE OF LOVING PEOPLE ATTUNED TO OUR FEELINGS AND RESPONSIVE TO OUR NEEDS WHO CAN FOSTER OUR INNER RESOURCES OF PERSONAL POWER, LOVABILITY, AND SERENITY. THOSE WHO LOVE US UNDERSTAND US AND ARE AVAILABLE TO US WITH AN ATTENTION, APPRECIATION, ACCEPTANCE, AND AFFECTION WE CAN FEEL. THEY MAKE ROOM FOR US TO BE WHO WE ARE.”―DAVID RICHO
It's important to hold a sense of ease and self-care when entering and exiting spaces and it's important to know when other people (and their energy—good, bad, challenging and confusing) affect the spaces we exist in and move through. The beautiful thing is that we can make and clear space for the relationships that will best support us. And we do this through practicing awareness. Make space in your life for the relationships that nourish you as a means to making space for the life you desire.
The first thing is to know the signs.
SIGNS OF THE DEPLETED: (not an exhaustive list!)
—You have spent time with someone and you feel drained afterwards.
—You yawn and feel fatigued when you speak about a conversation you had with this person.
—You let their calls go to voicemail.
—You ask WTF when you see that they are calling.
—You take triple the amount of time to respond to their text messages than you do others.
—You avoid making plans with this person.
—When you are around them you feel exhausted, guilty or unhappy.
—Seeing their social media makes you angry or anxious.
—They make you angry or unhappy.
—You feel unsupported or unheard when spending time with them.
—You feel a loss of power after spending time with them.
—You feel competitive with this person.
—You find yourself checking out of the conversation to reserve your energy.
—You have to prepare to spend time with this person.
—You are annoyed with this person the majority of time.
While this list is not exhaustive, you start to see a pattern. By knowing what to look for, you have choice in changing your reality in any moment—moment to moment.
“WE CAN ACTUALLY RECONSTRUCT OUR PAST BY EXAMINING WHAT WE THINK, SAY, FEEL, EXPECT, BELIEVE, AND DO IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP NOW.”―DAVID RICHO
WHAT TO DO
Practice mindfulness. While it may sounds simple, try noticing how you feel, how your body feels and how your breath is when you spend time with people that you have identified as energy-draining. Also do this for the people in your life who give you life.
Practice these two meditations:
Inhale in: Show me all of the people who deplete me of my energy and leave me feeling tired, exhausted and drained.
Exhale out: I am letting go of that which and who depletes me of my energy.
Inhale in: Show me all the people who give me joy, energy, positivity, and love.
Exhale out: I am letting go of that which and all who depletes me of my joy, energy, positivity and love.
Take a moment to write down any thoughts, memories or images that came up in your meditation.
Inhale in: I am open to creating the type of relationships that allow me to feel like myself and full of life. I embrace relationships that encourage and affirm me.
Exhale out: I am releasing all the relationships that take away from my most powerful self.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN FRIENDS + LOVERS
LIFE IS VERY SHORT AND WHAT WE HAVE TO DO MUST BE DONE IN THE NOW.—AUDRE LORDE
Nkechi Njaka is the founder of NDN Lifestyle Studio where she curates lifestyle and wellness content for brands and individuals. She is also the co-founder of Sitting Matters, a mindful lifestyle brand. She is a woman of color, deeply concerned about personal and global well-being. Nkechi holistically approaches her wellness with mindfulness, movement, nutrition and style. She attended Scripps College in Claremont, CA where she majored in neuroscience and dance and went on to complete an MSc. in Neuroscience at the University of Edinburgh. She attended the Institute of Integrated Nutrition and holds a certification in Holistic Health and Nutritional Counseling. When not involved in NDN projects, you can find Nkechi teaching Mindful Movement or Mindful Style classes + workshops, taking a yoga or modern dance class or choreographing independent work. She creates, curates, coaches and collaborates in San Francisco, California. Read Nkechi's article on growth through meditation in Issue 001: Growth, and on transformation and death in Issue 002: Death and Transition. Follow Nkechi on Instagram @Ndnlifestylist and Twitter @NkechiNjaka.