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— Depression

Maryam Ajayi

The founder of Dive in Well who believes in giving yourself grace and flexibility. But hold yourself accountable because the repercussions mean you can’t show up for other people, meaning you can’t show up for yourself.

The founder of Dive in Well, Maryam Ajayi's record player

You teach breathwork, Reiki, and Akashic records. How did you come to find these practices in your life?

For my company, Dive in Well, I was doing yoga and meditation and I saw that it was having a profound effect on my physical body, mental state, and spirituality. As I dove deeper into this world, I accidentally got into Reiki. It added to a massage. I didn’t know what it was, but I felt so different afterward. The philosophy behind it really moved me, so I asked the universe if I could learn more. Then I found a teacher that reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get trained, which felt like a sign.

Then I discovered breathwork. I tried out a breathwork class and I remember crying on the floor, feeling so in my body, which I hadn’t felt probably ever in my life. I was going to breathwork classes a lot and ended up getting certified.

Finally, four years ago, I was in LA and my friend did Akashic Records and it was amazing. I went to her reader and she explained that the Akashic Records is the imprint of your soul through space and time. It’s the story of your soul, but it’s multiple stories happening at once. I remember at the end of our session, she told me that I was going to end up doing it for other people. And a year later, I got certified and started working with people.

A mirror reflection of Maryam Ajayi, founder of Dive in Well, meditating

What sets you up for a successful day?

I like to start my morning off super slow. Before I put my feet on the ground or grab my phone, I say a prayer and set an intention for the day. More recently, I’ve said, “I would like for this day to be abundant and joyful and full of love.” Typically it changes, but sometimes I’ll repeat the same ones, especially if I’m working on a certain theme. After, I might also say something that I’m grateful for, thanking my body and thanking the different opportunities that are given to me on a day-to-day basis. Then if something amazing happened the day before, I’ll express gratitude and start my day.

The founder of Dive in Well, Maryam Ajayi's book shelf with books aligned by color and a few printed photos leaning in front of them

Do you have a specific process you put in place to safeguard your mental health?

I try not to take any phone calls in the morning unless I really, really have to. Then I’ll start my afternoon. After I’m done working, I try to wind down at 5 or 6 PM. I’m an entrepreneur and some people get up at 5:00 AM and are up until midnight.

I used to do that and it’s not healthy for me. I try to be intentional about my day. I work by the planets. Monday is a moon day and I don’t work on Mondays. The moon is all about your feelings and your internal landscape. So I sit in my feelings all day on Monday and try and do some sort of spiritual ritual. Tuesday is Mars. So Mars is action. That’s why I have a lot of planning sessions on Tuesdays and so on and so forth.

Have you always had really good boundaries?

I did not have boundaries. When I started getting into my wellness practice, I noticed I was drained all the time. I was working with different spiritual leaders and advisors that asked, ‘How are you protecting your energy? What are your practices?’ I thought that meant protecting yourself from bad vibes, but it’s about what pillars do you have in place so that you’re not giving your energy away all the time? So over the past two or three years, I’ve gotten stronger at it. I went from having none to being so hardcore, which was also not the best. So I’ve found some grace and flexibility with myself. I hold myself accountable because I know what the repercussions are of me not feeling at peace. It means I can’t show up for other people because I’m not showing up for myself.

This wasn’t always my world. I would say I stumbled into it. I’ve worked in different industries and I’ve seen injustice or systemic oppression and being in the wellness industry, I was seeing the same things show up. I realized it was a part of my life’s purpose to help people be well and forge their own path. Being well looks different for every person. So the work that I do with Dive in Well is reclaiming what wellness is, especially for marginalized people and Black and indigenous people of color. So we really try and center not just well-being and wellness, but issues that affect the well-being of marginalized people. That can be social justice or community care.

We were very active during the election. A lot of wellness brands don’t feel like that is a part of wellness. That it’s not proper to talk about or it’s bad vibes. We really like to go there because those are the issues that matter. If we’re not going there, then we’re not able to be well. Then we marry those issues with things such as meditation, yoga, and breathwork and how you take care of yourself.

Maryam Ajayi, founder of Dive in Well, meditating in an orange dress with her eyes closed, while sitting in her chair

Is there anything that you hold in shame or feel stigma around?

How much time do we have? There’s so much that I feel shame about. I want to date and I want to be married and have a family, but then there are times when I am working so much and I’m not sure how I could date anyone. I have a very here one day gone tomorrow lifestyle, especially with my work. So that’s residual shame from society. As someone my age, I should be married with kids and settled down, whatever that means. And when I find myself caught up in that storyline, I’m like, who does that come from? Is that me? Am I really enjoying my life and will that come whenever it’s supposed to?

As an entrepreneur, on the flip side, I feel like I’m never doing enough. I should be working and grinding 24/7. That is capitalism and that’s patriarchy. And those are exactly the things that I’m trying to dismantle through the work that I do. I used to walk around, especially being a Black woman with so much shame, and as I’ve let a lot of these narratives go, I’ve realized that a lot of them aren’t mine and I don’t have to carry them around. I choose not to.

How have the past few years impacted your mental health?

Last year was super challenging, especially coming out of 2020 and going full throttle with work and building a business during a pandemic, during an uprising. I kept going and I wanted to be of service. I dealt with a really difficult issue where I tried to show up with a lot of grace and a lot of compassion for everyone involved, but behind the scenes, I was dealing with a lot of online bullying and harassment. I was getting death threats and people that I love were getting death threats. I live with anxiety and depression and PTSD, which I’m always very mindful of, but it seemed everything compounded on top of that.

I had to take a sabbatical that I didn’t announce. I was away for a month and then came back and decided I was not strong enough mentally and physically. At certain points, I battled with suicidal thoughts and with my anxiety, depression, and PTSD, I’d never experienced that in my life. I didn’t know what to do. I ended up reaching out to a spiritual healer that I had no idea was also a counselor, which I believe saved my life. I was supposed to work with her later on, but I texted her that I didn’t know if I was going to make it to the end of the day. She stepped in and held a beautiful ceremony for me. She contacted about five of my loved ones and had a very indigenous gathering virtually, which really brought me back to myself.

I struggled over the last year because the bullying and harassment didn’t go away overnight. It would creep back in. And so that’s when I radically reclaimed a lot of my boundaries. It’s looked like selfishness, but I reclaimed taking care of myself and cutting out anything that threatened my mental wellbeing. I don’t know if tomorrow I will struggle with that, but I never want to go back there. I’m sure that other people that have dealt with suicidal thoughts and ideation feel the same way.

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