This interview was originally published at The Noetic Life
“We are human beings, not human doings.” -Mariam Mouna Guessous (aka Mar), Founder of I See You Wellness, who is also a Creator and Healing Artist, located in Brooklyn, NY.
It has been over a year of lockdown or NY on Pause as it was branded here in NY. The year was filled with many events that ignited changes to how the vast majority of the world does things. Ironically, we are still not comfortable with simply being. It seems like we have to unlearn the kind of conditioning that glorifies grind culture. Noetic Life has reached out to local wellness extraordinaire, Mar from I See You Wellness.
Q. Welcome Mar and thank you for taking the time to share with us! Your story is fascinating. You write that your journey began with an affirmation tweet sent on June 24, 2017, that reads, “Today’s Affirmation: I will allow the world to SEE ME and in turn I will see myself in the world.”
Tell us a little about your journey and how this affirmation came to you. How did it lead you to create I See You Wellness?
My healing journey began when I “made it” in a corporate job as an advertising creative. I found myself in the most prestigious festival in the industry in Cannes, France and I realized how deeply unhappy, depressed and disenchanted I was. It was odd because everything looked great on paper, like… I made it! I was amongst “the best of the best”, I was in a high paying job on Madison Ave and had access to high profile people. As an immigrant, woman of color, I felt like I *should* be happy and grateful, yet, I was not and I couldn’t lie to myself anymore. Something had to change. So the following years led to a deep excavation and self healing which resulted in me taking the biggest leap of faith and quitting that career altogether, because it felt like a prison to my spirit. My spirit wanted to free itself and I had no choice but to leap. So I finally did. Shortly after, I started writing affirmations to remind myself that it IS safe to BE ME, it is safe to “come out”. That one affirmation turned into many and I started sharing them with friends and other Black and Brown women to tell them "I See You, sis, you’re not alone.” Everything snowballed after that, from creating a products line to opening the first I See You Studio Space. I See You Wellness was born from my willingness to BE ME and not what society wanted me to be and the rest is history.
Q. Many of us have been disconnected from our healing ancestral practices way before the start of this global pandemic. A lot of that loss has to do with colonization and assimilation and for historically excluded communities like Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), the erasure was violent and continues to live through generational trauma. How were you able to reconnect to your Moroccan roots after working in the corporate world? How were you able to begin your healing journey?
I was lucky to have been born and raised in Morocco, which helped ground me into the motherland and immersed me in ancestral practices. However, as most African countries, we’ve been colonized several times (by the Arabs, French and Spanish) and the impact is profound. I moved to the US at 18 and by the time I graduated and started working in the corporate world, I started noticing and experiencing racism, sexism and white supremacy (I refer to it as white idiocracy and will do so for the rest of this interview) even more than before. It was so blatant and normalized that 23 year old me felt like she had to “survive” or even fight it directly—which I did, to my detriment. I jokingly say that I was immersed in the Matrix in order to crack it and eventually break out of it.
This led me to dig deeper and begin the process of decolonizing myself, my mind and my spirit which led me to call forth my ancestors who have been through worse things. And they responded and guided me towards my freedom by reclaiming my spiritual practices. I reconnected to my roots and my healing journey because that’s what happens when nothing else works. The deep depression I went through was painful but also a catalyst to my healing. Losing everything (joy, peace, vitality, creativity) helped me hyper focus on spirit, and in hindsight, that was a huge blessing.
Q. You recently made a decision to move your engagement with your online community off social media to create your own private platform I See You Sanctuary . What is the I See You Sanctuary, who is it for and what inspired this decision?
Social Media is a product of capitalism and white idiocracy, and it is not a free speech platform. I was there (in the ad industry) when social media boomed and I got to see the inner workings of it. Like all media, social media is an advertising platform, I cannot unsee that. I also see many Black, Brown and Indigenous creators share their work freely and abundantly only for it to be stolen, repurposed and resold to them at a higher price. This is colonization and white idiocracy at work, and while I acknowledge the power and impact of these platforms, I personally refuse to play power games with artificial intelligence. When I quit my corporate job, I vowed to not work for anyone ever again, and when I find myself trying to “crack instagram” or “beat the algorithm” guess who I’m working for now? Yep, I’m working for a corporate entity not for my community or myself.
I consider my work to be sacred so my decision to move my engagement to an algorithm-free space is to keep it sacred and to also hold myself accountable and remember that I am not here to serve an algorithm, I am here to serve my community and those who want to be served and are committed to their healing.
I See You Sanctuary is a virtual sacred space and community of awakening beings on a mission to heal, rise and master their magic. We primarily serve a global community of Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQ+ women of color. This started in 2018 with I See You Studio which is a physical space in Brooklyn and with the pandemic, it was necessary to continue this work, so created I See You Sanctuary, a sacred space for us to continue our healing outside of the social media gaze.
Q. In your recent powerful essay on The Path of Being which seems like a guiding manifesto for your practice, you wrote: “The Path of Being requires radical presence. Radical acceptance. Radical Self Care and Self Love. And Radical Nowness. This path is not about getting somewhere and improving oneself. It is about BEING that which we already are as there’s absolutely nothing to improve about the Self. We have given so much power to our ego minds that we completely forgot who we are in essence.”
For those of us who may be curious in expanding our self-care tool box and are new to this practice, what are some simple ways to start shedding our habits of prioritizing ‘doing’ over ‘being’? How could we begin to reconnect with our selves?
It’s important to first start by acknowledging that grind culture is a product of white idiocracy, slavery and is actually a trauma response—it’s not who we are in essence, nor is it what we’re here to do. Healing starts by committing to decolonizing ourselves, healing ourselves and our bloodline by committing to doing less and BEING more. To radically love and care for ourselves and each other. This may sound like a trendy wellness concept, but in practice, this is absolutely revolutionary because it goes against capitalism and other systems of oppression and the best part is, we don’t have to “do” anything, we just unplug and BE. We owe it to our ancestors (and even parents and grandparents) who didn’t have a choice but to keep their heads down and grind. We as a generation, have a unique opportunity to break out of that, and honestly if a Moroccan immigrant like myself can do it, anyone can.
My definition for Radical Self Care is: the practice of radically caring for yourself first and dropping the ball on everything and everyone else.
If you just do this and keep minding yourself and prioritize your well-being, I promise you, everything will change.
Q. As we approach Spring Equinox, which symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings, how could we expand our spring cleaning beyond decluttering our spaces? Who should attend one of your cleansing rituals?
As an energy work practitioner, I always see everything in terms of energy, frequency and vibration. I encourage everyone to first attune themselves to earth’s energy and follow what earth is doing. Spring Equinox marks a new beginning and as we do our spring cleaning and declutter our spaces, it’s also important to declutter our energy, in fact, decluttering one’s energy field will trigger the decluttering of everything else. It is so much easier to do things on an energetic level than a physical level. At the Sanctuary, we do a deep energy cleanse every single month to cleanse the energies of the month and create space for the incoming energies. In my opinion, energy hygiene is so crucial in today’s world because most ailments start on an energetic level, so if we stay clear, we might not have to deal with the ailment manifesting in our physical life. I recommend daily energy hygiene for maintenance and consistent weekly or monthly energy cleanses for deep release and healing.
Q. We have amethyst facial rollers in our shop which we chose symbolically for their connection to the crown chakra and for their protective energy. Some people use a sage clearing or smudge to cleanse their crystals, others use palo santo and others use sea salt. What crystal cleaning method would you recommend for those new to crystals and where could our readers find the items needed?
I like to cleanse and reset my crystals every season using water and salt under a full moon, especially a full moon that feels particularly powerful for me. I place my crystals in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt and place them outside (or by a window) overnight and ask them to clear and release with the full moon energy. After they cleanse, I charge them with intention. It’s important to realize that crystals are beautiful tools, but they have to be worked with and activated with our intention. For a quicker cleansing process, you can run them over incense smoke, like sage or palo santo, frankincense etc. My Palo Santo and Sage Spray is a tool I created for sustainability purposes and I use it to spray and reset my entire altar every couple of days. It smells great and is a potent cleanser. I also recommend you come up with your own cleansing techniques that resonate with you, these are all just suggestions! At the end of the day, everything is a tool—you ARE the magic.
Q. If you could share one affirmation for our readers for these uncertain times, what would it be?
Since we are in a New Beginning period, I encourage everyone who reads this to dream big and take the leap towards those dreams. The universe will catch you. It may seem like we are in chaotic and uncertain times but these energies are actually perfect to help us create new realities for ourselves.