When I went to Tiossan’s Re-laugh-ation, I didn’t expect that I would end up lying on my yoga mat sobbing quietly to myself. After all, the Facebook event promised lots of laughter and relaxation (hence the event name), so I came fully expecting I’d be exhausted by immense joy, then rejuvenated from the relaxation. But instead I cried. A lot. I got duped.
Want to know why? Follow me along. Here is everything you too, would have experienced had you been there as well.
Everyone will make room for you
Magatte Wade, CEO of Tiossan created this event to help attendees have one hour experiencing pampering, human connection and deep relaxation. Immediately when you walk into the room, before you say hello to anyone you can already experience that relaxing feeling. The room is lit up by dim soothing lighting and the air is inviting, relaxing and healing. You’d think it’s been sprayed with droplets of magic, but no that’s Tiossan’s Beauty Sleep Pillow Mist; close enough. I was 20 minutes late and people had already been sitting in a circle on their yoga mat, but as soon I tried to put down my mat somewhere outside of the circle, everyone near me adjusted themselves to make room for me. Such a small gesture but it made feel like I belonged there.
That feeling kept on as I listened to everyone sharing funny and embarrassing stories about themselves, which made it so easy to go from feeling weird with complete strangers to feeling comfortable with new friends. Magatte understands that in the Senegalese, the African art or storytelling, story sharing, is embedded the secret to honoring our common humanity. Everyone made room for me everyone made room for each other.
You will travel to Senegal
After the tales we moved on to my now favorite part, a guided meditation. Let me tell you, I’ve done guided meditations before but nothing up to par with this one. We were all lying on our yoga mats, eyes closed while another girl whom I will call our flight attendant, began to walk us…well, fly us through the meditation. I call her the flight attendant because she essentially took us to Senegal with the whole experience. First we were handed sleeping masks to put on in case we want complete darkness. But those aren’t generic mask like the ones they give you on the plane. These are sleeping masks hand-stitched in Senegal, which are filled amazing smelling herbs that seem to just put you in immediate relaxation mode. So 0ff we went under the instructions of our flight attendant, following the wind to collectively make our way to Senegal through guided meditation
There is soothing Senegalese music playing softly for your auditory immersion in the Senegal experience. And if like me you just happen to open your eyes during the meditation, right above you there is a light fixture made of magnificent tree branches that look exactly like what our flight hostess is telling us we should be seeing by now as we drop altitude to land in Senegal.
You will think you’re crazy, because you swear you can smell Senegal right now. Well that’s because while you’re busy meditating and traveling, Magatte is walking around spraying that magic-I mean that Beauty Sleep Pillow mist; if you weren’t in Senegal before, you most certainly are now. This meditation is engaging all your senses, and if I didn’t know better, I’d tell everyone I went to Senegal yesterday. I mean, in a way I did right? Except for my body, everything else of me was there. Technicalities. Somebody please put a stamp in my passport.
You will feel protected
I know you’re still waiting for me to tell you why I cried, so here it goes. Now that our flight attendant tells us we’ve landed in Senegal, She’s now our tour guide telling us that we’re going to visit our grandmothers while we’re sightseeing. We’re visiting the majestic Baobab, a magnificent tree which in many African cultures is considered the meeting point of our ancestors. Our tour guide tells us, tells me that my grandmother will be there waiting to hug me, to sing lullabies to me while I rest my head on her lap, to take all my emotional baggage from me, to remind me that I am loved and protected. This is it. This is the part where I break down.
Because just a month ago, I lost my beloved grandmother and I am still in disbelief. Imagining her waiting to hug me, that was it. I broke down. I saw myself reaching out my arms to hold her tight, telling her over and over that I love her, much I miss her, how much I’m sorry for not visiting her often enough, how much I wish I had more time, how badly I wanted to feel her hands cupping my face to look into my soul and cast out all my deepest fears. Our tour guide reminds us grandmothers represent trust, protection, strength, and healing. To give it all to them. Everything that is weighing us down, give it all to them. So I do.
I hand over all my sorrow to her, and I grieve, I cry, inhale, exhale, I cry, inhale, exhale, I cry. And she holds me, patiently waits for me to let it all out until we have to say goodbye. Time to return home. I hear my grandmother tell me what she said last time I saw her: “may all the obstacles that your meet on your journey, be cast out of the way as you walk through”. I nod and say goodbye, reminded that she already gave me all I need to make it out there. Beneath the powerful Baobab in Senegal, grandmama casts a spell of protection on me. I’m going to be alright. She’s got me.
You will feel overwhelming gratitude
The guided meditation is drawing to an end, as we return from our trip to Senegal and come back to ourselves. While lying there our flight attendant/tour guide/mediation guide, reminds us to wrap our arms around our own bodies and softly sway side to side like a hug to ourselves. In this small act, you begin to feel a deep sense of gratitude for yourself. That is because many of us don’t really take the time to do anything kind for ourselves. Think about it, even when you try to do things for your body, it’s often because you are trying to mold yourself into something else because as you are you don’t think you’re enough. You probably learn to put on make up because you don’t feel beautiful without it. Maybe you workout a lot not for health but because you believe at the end of those 10 pounds awaits endless happiness. Maybe that new pair of shoes is what you’re convinced will finally make you feel enough, worthy of love.
In these last minutes of meditation as you are hugging yourself, you will notice your body thanking you. Because for once you did something for yourself just for its own sake. There is no reward to earn, no body goal to reach, no arbitrary happiness target to hit, no nothing. Just you here, being good to yourself just because. Kindness for its own sake. Kindness simply because you are here, because you exist. You feel that? That is your body thanking you. Overwhelming gratitude.
When you reluctantly rise out of the meditation, back in the room, you open your eyes and realize how you feel renewed. That whole experience within an hour has reset your whole day, whole year, whole life. Because you will walk out of there feeling renewed and ready to take on the world. The simple act of imagining yourself handing over the weight of your problems to someone who loves you unconditionally, will make you feel lighter and so much stronger. Don’t believe me? Try to attend another Tiossan event if you ever have the chance (like their page here). It will change you immensely(crying optional). Or if you can’t travel, just go and purchase that Beauty Sleep Pillow Mist (here) or purchase the brand new addition to the Marchand de reves line, the soothing eye mask seen below.
Through the Tiossan skincare line, Magatte has mastered the art of beauty beyond the skin. She created an entire experience that is about transforming your life so you can step out in the world as the best version of yourself. That is exactly what I felt with just one hour with her, imagine what you’d feel if you bring this habit in your daily practice.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.