Objects Of Desire

My objects of desire: Peigín Crowley

The wellness curator spent 20 years working with some of the country’s top spas before launching her own brand, Ground, in 2020. She talks relaxing spaces, self-care and breathing hacks

Peigín Crowley: ‘I wish doctors would write down that you need to take a walk or a bath and you need to do these things to look after yourself.’ Photo: Nathalie Márquez Courtney

The key to taking regular baths is to turn the immersion on. You’ve committed now: you have to get your playlist and put your salts in. And then when you’re in it, it’s just the best thing ever – your body thanks you for it. It’s a really good time for you to breathe and connect to your body and listen to yourself again.

I blast hip hop and wear my vintage Adidas when making my essential oil blends. During lockdowns, I had to share the space with my kids, who were homeschooling and wanting snacks all the time. So I would get up at 5.45am, see the dawn, and have Dr Dre or Jenny Greene on RTÉ 2FM playing as I blended.

The last thing I bought and loved was a linen robe – it’s a real “for me” thing and I love wearing something that’s luxurious but that won’t leave the house. It’s by new Irish brand Amurelle and has a beautiful texture and lightness. It feels cool when you want it to feel cool but is also lovely for keeping you warm in the morning.

Travel was all well and good, as was having a large to-do list and working with beautiful properties – my identity and ego were served. But working in my home with my family has given me such a great appreciation for my nest, where I live and why I work.

When you slow down, you meet yourself. And sometimes we run fast to avoid those kinds of awkward meetings, where you see the truth and realise you have to manage yourself a bit differently.

From an early age, we all learn to spend two minutes every morning and every evening brushing our teeth. But what about our organs? There are such simple practices to honour those organs and sleep is the most wonderful one, as is learning some simple breathing rituals.

Photo by Nathalie Marquez Courtney

Plants help my bedroom feel like a sanctuary. They bring such comfort, as does using quality bedlinen. You’re on that mattress for hours, while all your organs do their repair and restoration work, so let it be a space that’s as natural to your body as possible.

You can hack into your vagus nerve and trick yourself into relaxing. As soon as you breathe in for four, hold for seven and whoosh out through the mouth for eight, you’re releasing more than you’re taking in, you’re switching off what’s behind you or what’s ahead of you, moving into your body. It’s used in the army. Adding an oil or balm with scent lets you supercharge that; memories are powerful and the scent will act as a trigger.

People are more open to a holistic approach now. Western medicine is almost like a religion: you’re brought up in it, and you take the prescription and the antibiotics, but I think people are starting to look at the underlying factors behind not feeling well a bit more now. There are so many things in traditional Chinese medicine that are such solid foundations to live by, and they’re not difficult to implement at all.

I wish doctors would write down that you need to take a walk or a bath and you need to do these things to look after yourself. They might say, “Then come back to me, and we’ll see if you need to chemically balance internally”. Or maybe it was that some self-minding is needed and you just didn’t understand how to do it.

Photo by Nathalie Marquez Courtney

I don’t bake or cook really well, but I’ll make a batch of balms to help my children establish their own self-care rituals. When my daughters are upset by things, balms and breathing can help them establish perspective. It’s not me nursing them, but rather showing them how to nurse themselves.

It’s important that I show my daughters that our bodies are our best friends. They’re with us forever, and we have to mind them and honour them and give them good sleep, good food, good air quality and come off the hamster wheel.

We live in a world where we have to give ourselves permission to have a digital detox. People have to pay a couple of hundred euro to go to a spa, wear a fluffy robe and slippers, to not have a phone and just chill.

But since Covid, we’re realising we could just be doing more of that at home, in our daily practice.