Angelica Radacinski currently lives in New York City where she leads Guided Meditation + Visualization sessions at Soho House’s Ludlow House on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for her fellow members. She gives private and group sessions and has partnered with Kit + Ace to give sessions 1-2 times a month for their mindfulness focus. Read on to find out how-to declutter your mind to live a more peaceful and intentional life!
Many minds are often overstimulated, stressed, and tired. There’s so much work left to do, but one can’t seem to find the energy to finish; what may typically be simple to accomplish, becomes complex and over-thought. Perhaps, one is simply searching for a means to receive relief and relax their mind, but cannot, or is unsure how to. For years, my mother, had encouraged me to meditate. I could never seem to find the time, or really understand how to “quiet” my mind, and always dismissed it. As a creative artist, who is constantly inspired, stimulated, and “going,” I am at the other end of the quiet mind spectrum. Regardless, how can one give their best, if they are not at their best? It was when I was at my worst, that I was able to find a way to not only help myself, but others.
When I moved back to NYC in 2012, I was faced with confusion, both in my life direction and identity. There were many drastic changes that surfaced, heartache, a stressful job that took a toll on my health, and a lot of loss, with the passing of friends and family. Not wanting to trouble others, I internalized this.
With racing thoughts and uncertainties, I often ran on empty, only sleeping four hours or so a night. I was unsure of how to deal with stress, and as a result created more for myself. One of the hardest facts I dealt with, also became one of my greatest and most rewarding life guides to date. When moving back to NYC, my family and I found out that my mother’s vision loss had been misdiagnosed. Instead of what was thought to be a cataract, she had developed an inoperable brain tumor that was pressing against her optic nerve, causing her to rapidly lose vision. This beautiful human, that I am lucky enough to call my parent, needed my support, my energy — the energy that I never seemed to have. Truly, I was mistreating my mind, my body, my heart, my soul, and my spirit, all of which were (and still are) endlessly working together to keep me going.
On September 29th, 2013 (to be exact), amidst a meltdown from all of the stress that I had acquired, I found myself on a bench at the Brooklyn Promenade. I took a deep breath in, and quietly said “Please, God, just give me some relief.” I took another deep breath in, and closed my eyes. In what felt like an abrupt shift, I ever so clearly felt a tear going down my cheek and became conscious of it. I could feel the tear’s warmth becoming cold, as the soft breeze touched it and changed its temperature. Carrying the faintest smell of fall in NYC, the breeze returned, blowing through my hair and back through the trees, causing the leaves to sound like sweet whispers. The sound of children playing in the playground behind me became pronounced, then blended like different layers of a track, before becoming a finished song. I recalled a memory of my Abuela (grandmother) taking me to play at that exact playground. In that moment, I began to taste Haagen Dasz Vanilla ice cream on a waffle cone (although I wasn’t actually eating it); she had bought it for me before we went to play. Being able to recall and physically feel this memory, brought immense comfort to my mind and body. The sun’s beams glistened through my closed eyelids, and I saw lines, circles, and movement of bright pink, red, and orange colors. I could feel, see, smell, taste, and hear in an elevated, trance-like state. My spirit was awake, my breath flowed in a rhythm; I could feel my heart beating, and for once, in a very long time, I felt alive. I recognized that this was a special moment, a moment where my body in all aspects became aligned and guided to receiving peace. This was my meditation.
As time progressed, I began calling on those moments for peace, especially when I became stressed. I wrote down ideas I had of expanding this journey, if you will, and began using visualization practices with my mother. I began with having her visualize her tumor becoming smaller, in hopes that some of the pain from her headaches would diminish (it would). With each experience, I learned, and formatted some of the steps I’m going to share below. Working in the Music + Live Events Industry, I noticed how stressed almost everyone becomes, and I began to share some of my visualization insight, whenever I was asked how I stay calm. My intention has always been to help people and our world progress through peace. Now, leading guided meditation + visualization sessions in NYC and while traveling, I know not only does it encourage peacefulness, but is so significant for our health within our day-to-day lives.
Please keep in mind that everyone has, and or, finds different methods of meditation that work for them. My guided meditation + visualization journey was created to be an approachable means of encouragement for people to welcome meditation into their lives. I’m sharing my story to acknowledge that we all have struggles, moments of stress, sadness, loss, discovery, and rediscovery. We have a choice (although it may not always be an easy one), in how we choose to deal with the many facets of life. If we can recognize that every person and experience serves a purpose, and leads us closer to learning more about ourselves through what/who we like, dislike, want, and don’t want in our lives, perhaps we can program our mind to use this as a guide in how we deal with day to day life. Had it not been for my mother’s health issues, and the difficult realities that turned my life upside down, I would not have reevaluated what is truly of importance to me, and what is not. Although a person or experience may cause stress, pain, unfairness etc. to deal with, by taking a moment to gain peace for ourselves, we can hopefully look back, and come to the realization that it is all preparing us for what is next to come.
1. Be in control of your thoughts, DO NOT let them be in control of you:
Easier said than done? Perhaps, but we often build out scenarios and stress ourselves out before anything even happens. Did you ever anticipate a situation being so horrible, then it happens and ends up not being so bad, or even great? When you allow a thought to be planted, and feed that seed, it begins growing, internalizing, and manifesting. Before you know it, you become drained, anxious, or even feel sick! Before you begin internalizing a negative thought, dismiss it. Distract yourself with a positive thought, humming, music, a mantra, visualization, or whatever may work best (a healthy alternative) for you. Make sure you get into this healthy habit, as it may help in softening stressful moments. Remember, when you’re looking for peace, or if you’re wanting to meditate, that is YOUR time, and no one else’s. Just as if you were treating yourself to a sweet, trip, etc, give yourself the gift of peace, even if it’s for a few moments.
2. Write down what or who you want to let go of, then rip it up, and toss it out while stating out loud, “I release you!”:
Many times, we are our biggest limitation, and we become unsure of how to eliminate that block. We let outside influences, and ourselves, impact us and distract us from happiness, our focus, creativity, etc. Writing down what we want to release or what is bothering us, is a great start because we are exercising our motor skills, releasing tension, and placing our thoughts down where we can review them rather than allowing them to overwhelm our mind. In a sense, by doing this, you are distracting your mind from an excess of thoughts because you are dealing with them one by one. What we may think is important in our mind, may actually be of less importance once we get it out, and write it down. Is it really that important in the long run, or just in that moment? Joel Osteen suggested an idea that I often refer to, “act, don’t react,” and this goes back to the old saying, “think before you act.” Once you feel like you’ve written down what you need to, tear it up and say “I release you!”. Verbalizing what you want is so important, because you’re initiating the exchange of energy, similar to making and then signing a contract. How can you receive what you want, if you don’t ask for it? Make sure to always phrase desires in the positive form: what you DO want, NOT what you don’t.
3. Focus on your breath, and feel the connectivity of your mind, body, heart, soul, and spirit:
What I notice in most of my guided meditation + visualization sessions, is that when clients focus on their breath, and give themselves a chance to properly breathe and release, not just out of necessity, they instantly feel more calm. I go over four different breathing exercises before I start the meditation journey, and note that they are very helpful and easy to do anywhere, but are especially great to do before sleep (and for troubled sleepers). I suggest doing each around 10 times, preferably with your eyes closed, and begin with tense and release breathing, as this is really great to initiate relaxation of the body. I then transition into abdominal and chest focused breathing, where one may notice that afterwards, their heart is beginning to beat differently and feel more apparent. I ask clients to take a moment and place their hands over their heart, simply breathing in slowly, out slowly; feeling their heartbeat, and recognizing that they are alive, right here, right now. I then close the breathing exercises with alternate nostril breathing, and have clients continue breathing in through their nose, and out through their nose for the meditation. I ask that you notice how you are breathing, what it feels like, and what it sounds like.
4. Awaken your five senses:
We are often so overstimulated, that we literally don’t “stop and smell the roses.” Close your eyes, breathe in through your nose, out through your nose, and focus on/guide yourself through each of your senses (no specific order) for about 30 seconds to a minute each. The reality is, we’re always using our senses, but we don’t often focus in on them. Whether you are at work, out, or at home, take a moment to do this, as it will help relax your mind.
a) Focus on what you smell – your perfume/cologne, food, fresh air.
b) Focus on what you taste – something you ate, drank, your saliva.
c) Focus on what you feel – the breeze, your sweater keeping you warm.
d) Focus on what you hear – birds chirping, air coming out of a vent, your breathing.
e) Focus on what you see (with your eyes closed) – movement, color, shapes.
5. Visualize yourself in a place of peace:
Visualize yourself in a place where you feel total and complete peace, maybe at the beach, or in a park. As you’re visualizing this place, visualize yourself there and notice how calm and happy you look, and feel that within. Have you ever looked at a photo of you on vacation or at a time when you felt really happy, and your are able to smile and recall what it was like? This is what you’re doing with this exercise! You’re bringing yourself back to those moments and those feelings.