Chakra Dressing with Hawa Arsala

 #chakradressing is a project about showcasing women like us using daily activities, such as cooking, reading, laying down for a bit, dancing, lip singing, singing, baking, painting, to undress their mind from anything and everything. All of us have a different approach to this so it's very exciting to see how each month our different muses walk us through this process. We like to see this meditation practice as a very easy intuitive routine, and we have given names to each step of the process leading up to it to honor your time and to give this ritual the space and validation they deserve in our busy lives. 


The three steps to flow into mindfulness

Hawa Arsala


Hawa is a Brooklyn-based freelance creative director and strategist within various industries, such as the arts, media, and fashion. Although she works full-time at Viacom, she often hones in on her creativity through freelance projects that have a main focus on social and cultural impact. Her passion for diversity and representation has projected her into co-finding Browntourage, a media agency which was created under the principles of conscious consumption and production of culture and media. Through our short, but fulfilling, visit to her home, we got to learn more about her sanctuary, that she calls her safe space, and her ritual into "undressing" her day. Hawa has a few, but impactful, steps into winding down from stressful moments and reigniting her chakras to get her energy flow going the right way.

Daniella: With all that you do, are there moments where you feel flustered?

Hawa: There are many moments where I find myself in stressed out, anxious situations, or super flustered. I think that anxiety is probably the kicker for me because it’s something that can detract from the creative process, but still can fuel the creative process. So there’s this weird relationship with it where, sometimes, I need it to keep me going and push me, but there is a threshold. I’m always on and I really love that rush, but sometimes that adrenaline turns into pure anxiety. That’s where I get overwhelmed.


: You have created a safe space to retrieve back. How does it look like? 

H: So my safe space is a sanctuary and I’ve been very intentional about the way I set up my room and the objects that surround me. All the senses. Smells are super important to me, and also sounds—having a clean room and just walking around my room, I don’t want to hear crunching around my feet! I have different playlists for different moods. I have a lot of pieces that I've collected over travels or have inherited from my mother. And it’s very important for me to create a space that stimulates all of these senses in a way that I like to be stimulated.

D: So your sanctuary reminds you of where you come from and your purpose of what you do today?

H: Oh yeah definitely. Something will catch my eye in the room and I can tell you the complete story behind it. I have those brown pom-poms on my wall that was from a trip to Mexico City, it was the only thing I brought back with me along with a quartz gift for a friend. I like finding those unique pieces. I have my mother’s old necklace, from when she was in Afghanistan, on the wall. That purple tassel is a jewelry designer in Berkeley, she was one of the first people I shot for Browntourage. I have all of these pieces around me that have stories that remind me where I come from and where I’ve been. I keep adding as I go, such as the latest issue of Vogue Espain that I worked on. Having that a part of my space is a reminder of the things not only have I accomplished, but the motivation to keep doing what I’m doing.




"play the right music, light some sage or palo santo, do some stretching, and try not to come home and immediately get to work."

D: What is the first thing you like to do when you need to reset your mind a bit?

H: So I think I need the reminder to be grounded in my physical body. That’s why I also like having a skincare routine and I feel better when I’m taking care of my physical body as much as I am taking care of my mind. And so that ritual will look like coming home, taking all the makeup off, laying out my yoga mat... I’ll do some breathing, but I’ll always set the tone — play the right music, light some sage or palo santo, do some stretching, and try not to come home and immediately get to work. Sometimes I do guided meditation or yoga Nidra, where I’m following the words and being really present in my body and space, and that’s really helpful.

Hawa in the Crop de la Crop in Cloud and 
Bonita Skirt in Cloud while in her #EnergyFlow.



"Having that practice and tactile experiences, really grounds me."

D: Setting the tone is always essential. So you would say your #EnergyFlow is setting the tone. Do you like to lay down after this?

H: Oh no, if I lay down, that’s a wrap! I’m asleep (haha). But I actually like to stay productive. Keep moving. I like to draw, paint, and be expressive. I think before I start drawing, I’m in this place of needing an outlet. I feel full. I remember I had one of those weekends that I was oddly free and I decided to go to a museum, walk all over town, got a book and paint supplies… I brought it all home and that night, I turned on my overhead light and just wanted to draw and paint. I made a huge mess! It’s funny because I grew up around art, but never thought I could be an artist. And so, I’m trying to allow myself the space to express that. When I see a somewhat completed piece, it really surprises me. It fills me with light and joy because it’s so different from the other work that I do. Having that practice and tactile experiences, really grounds me.

Hawa painting in the See Through Me Top in Apple
and Making History Pants in Cloud

: Wow, so instead of winding down after you get your energy flowing, you feel more inspired to paint and draw—to give you head space.

H: Yes, exactly. It’s difficult to shut down my brain. I like to do my little activity and then unwind.

D: How long do you spend drawing?

H: Well, it all depends on how full I’m feeling. Sometimes it could take longer because I like to be creative in other things like collaging. But, I like to do short, quick drawings so like this piece [painting hung on the wall] probably took 20 minutes. I don’t like to think when I’m doing it. When I’m drawing, I just look at a sheet of paper with a pen or paint brush in my hand and I might see something on the page, but I’ll just start somewhere and then let it flow. It feels like I’m tapping into the unstructured world and being reminded of my past, my culture, and my purpose. I’m doing this for myself and it’s freeing.


Hawa painting in the See Through Me Top in Apple
and Making History Pants in Cloud


"I like to lay in the sun or sit by my window and just kind of daydream"

D: That’s such a great way to let out cluttered energy! And so you talked about your activity, like painting, and you mentioned you unwind afterwards. What does this look like?

H: Yes, that’s where I’ll really start to be at ease. And it’s perfect to do so in my space because I get such nice light in this room. I like to lay in the sun or sit by my window and just kind of daydream. I daydream a lot. I think a lot. My mom has told me that I’m a thinker.

D: I do too (haha). So overall, do you do your ritual every day?

H: You know, it does get difficult for me to squeeze them into my week, depending on the week. But I’ve become so anticipatory. So if I know something big is coming up, I start those rituals before it really gets underway. That really helps me keep an even tone throughout.

Hawa sitting by her sun-drenched window in the
Full Moon Dress 2.0 in Gold Tiles

Hawa's Favorites

Yoga and Meditation

 Yoga Nidra for Insomniacs

I love doing yoga nidra because it’s proven that it’s very helpful for me to shut down my brain. This is the specific YouTube video that I use and it’s literally for insomniacs. That will usually be the go-to when I’m having a hard time falling asleep, especially during those stressful moments in my week.

Dharma Punx NYC

When I first came to New York, my good friend, Jackie, introduced me to them. They essentially do a talk and the guy that I go see finds this amazing balance between science, psychology, and buddhism. He’s also very great in applying it to a New Yorker’s life — he’ll talk about when you’re waiting for the train and it’s not on time — so he’ll relate it to the everyday experience and goes through different practices to meet different scenarios. Whether it’s about detachment or anxiety, he finds these amazing anecdotal ways to touch on them and then does a guided meditation. Being that I was new to New York at the time, it was vital for me to take the 45 minutes to an hour to detach myself from the world and recollect. To feel grounded again.

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