Creating Intentional Spaces & Experiences with Secular Sabbath

11.04.2022 Arts & Culture
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This month, Genevieve Medow-Jenkins brings a more ephemeral spin to Creating Intentional Spaces. As the founder of Secular Sabbath, a community that blends physical spaces with sensory experiences, Genevieve has a deep understanding of the intersection between our physical environments and internal words. She was also raised by her mom at Esalen Institute and grew up with a strong community (including all night dance raves!) from the time she was a small child. Moving to Los Angeles, she missed the connection she had known in her upbringing and set about creating a new community experience of her own. Read on to learn more about Secular Sabbath and Genevieve.

Q: Please introduce yourself & your space.

A: I’m Genevieve Medow-Jenkins and an ephemeral space/community, Secular Sabbath, was born from my life.

Q: What does creating an intentional space mean to you?

A: An intentional space can be very simple. All you need are people who are choosing presence. If you have the majority of people in the space in a state of presence, it influences the minority to enter that state as well. It doesn’t matter what’s happening, as long as the moment is arresting. Intentional space is created by an energetic sphere.

Q: What tools and practices have you used in your space to bring your values and intentions to life?

A: Secular Sabbath brings people into presence through sensory experiences — most notably, through experiencing live ambient music. Because the musicians are creating the sounds in the moment, the product is a co-creation of everyone’s vibration in the room and how it moves through the artists into their instruments and back out into the space. Almost like a recycling symbol in perpetual motion, everything feeds forward into each other. It’s active presence, and that creates the intentionality in the space. We supplement it with other sensory activations varying from bodywork, to tea or cacao ceremony, breathwork, yoga, and other bodymind-based experiences. These sensory moments have brought me back into presence in my individual life. Therefore, I apply the same practices to the shared intentional spaces that I create through Secular Sabbath.

Q: What are some of your most treasured rooms and areas? Why?

A: Because Secular Sabbath existed ephemerally, the rooms are malleable. What is consistent are the pieces we incorporate. We have two domes, originally called ‘Dome Home,’ which we often bring into whatever space we inhabit. In Dome Home, we have hosted singing workshops, Surya Spa healing experiences, cozy naps, and breathwork. Dome Home changes its role depending on the location. It feels like a living breathing space within our Secular Sabbath landscape, as does the snake we commissioned from Elena Stonaker (an artist that creates soft sculptures). I treasure both of these most because they feel like our inner landscape.

Q: Are there any significant items and pieces in your spaces that hold particular meaning or fondness?

A: The Elena Stonaker soft sculptures are really special to me. For many years, we have rented or borrowed pieces she had already made. It felt like a long time coming to commission something that was both hers and mine. I picked a color palette that was our own and it felt like a commitment to these creatures that now travel with us in every environment we inhabit. They take on their own life. They hold onto the whispers and thoughts of the people who snuggle up to them. For example, the green mushroom sculptures were placed at a panel during LA Tech week. At our release party for B. Hayes Ambient Record, he performed in a grove of the soft sculptures in the magical Topanga Creek. We also brought them to Burning Man and they inhabited the dome home. Over time, these sculptures get their own life story and that feels special.

Q: Do you think our external environments affect our inner world?

A: Yes. One of my best friends in college is from Seoul, Korea, and he actually wrote his thesis on the way architecture impacts mindset. It really sat with me, because I’ve always liked to bear witness to that in myself. Yet, it’s an interweaving. We can’t help but integrate our sensory experience of the external into our inner world. To help me bring me back to some semblance of a consistent inner world within the external landscape, I fabricate elements. For example, when I travel, I bring my tea practice with me. Playing ambient playlists, bringing my own tea and teaware, writing in my journal, these are talismans that anchor me but also help me see the marriage of the outside and inside, and how something new is born from it.

Q: What has been one change that you’ve made in your home or workspace that has impacted your physical, mental, or spiritual health?

A: I have animals. A dog and a cat. They have changed me and brought me into states of consistent curiosity and presence. I love to watch them interact in the Secular Sabbath landscapes — how they experience people, music, soft sculptures. Non-verbal communication brings us intrinsically into intentionality. I love that.

Q: How do you find creating a space for your business different from creating a space solely for yourself?

A: My space for myself is probably more nostalgic than Secular Sabbath spaces. I like to have a lot of feeling around me: photographs, letters, and art pieces that people I love have made. I experience a lot of melancholy and light nostalgia, and my personal space reflects that. Secular Sabbath is more in the moment.

Secular Sabbath was started by Genevieve Medow-Jenkins, a California native who was raised by her mother at the Esalen Institute, an artist colony nestled among the foothills of Big Sur, where Medow-Jenkins grew up singing, dancing, and attending Wednesday night didgeridoo meditations in the area’s natural hot springs. Secular Sabbath is Genevie’s own ambient offering blending art, music, and wellness in the pursuit of helping her modern community form genuine friendships and human connections.

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