On Mitochondrial Health, Entrepreneurship, and Personal Development — Q&A with Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield is an Ironman triathlete, human performance consultant, speaker and author of 13 books, including the New York Times Bestseller “Beyond Training.” Ben is also the host of the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast and CEO of a leading supplement company, Kion. Ben works with individuals from all over the globe for both body and brain performance, and specializes in anti-aging, biohacking, and achieving an ideal combination of performance, health and longevity.

 
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Q

As one of the world's leading authorities on health and wellness, what are some of the most consistent things you find yourself recommending?

A

Most commonly, it’s things that enhance the health of the mitochondria. When it comes to mitochondrial health, we’re speaking specifically about elements that affect light and biophotonic signaling within the human body. I tend to recommend anything in the realm of infrared and red-light signaling, such as photobiomodulation panels or headsets. In addition, I recommend anything related to taking advantage of pulse electromagnetic fields (PEMF), such earthing, grounding, and certain footwear, mats and devices that allow one to enhance the mitochondria in this way. I also recommend anything that includes elements of cold and heat, such as devices that one can wear for cold thermogenesis, cold tubs, cold baths, cold showers, along with saunas, infrared saunas and heat exposure. Finally, good clean water! I find myself recommending water filtration systems, structured water, hydrogen-rich water, and even deuterium-depleted water along with high intake of minerals.

In summary, the big ones are light, grounding, earthing, heat, cold, good water and minerals, because they have such a profound influence on the mitochondria, which is so important for the human body.

Q

You wear so many hats in your daily life. Can you offer any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs?

A

Pay attention to the work of folks like Cal Newport, such as his book Deep Work. Not only should you find your passion and your purpose, and be able to define that in one succinct clear statement, but once you find it, you need to cut yourself off from distractions such as social media. Instead, every single day, find at least 4 hours—and a maximum of 6—to engage yourself in that extremely deep and meaningful work, with no distractions. So you are spending time creating rather than consuming. Viewing yourself as a creator rather than a consumer, and as someone who has a distinct purpose in life and is able to create deep work, is going to take you really far in life from an entrepreneurial standpoint.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

That’s a tough one, but I would say that one risk that I took recently was to branch out from being a “solo-preneur,” an author and speaker, and to start a nutritional supplements company, Kion. This was 2 years ago, and—despite being a path raw with unexpected twists and turns—it’s wound up being a complete joy to build a company, a culture, and a team of amazing people around me who can help me to deliver incredible formulations and wonderful scientifically proven compounds to people that I know are going to change a lot of lives. It’s risky to start a business like that, but I’m very glad that I did.

Q

Is there a particular person that influenced you in your career or personal development? What qualities did you admire in them?

A

Frankly, I’ve never had a mentor or one single person that I look up to. However, I do read a book a day. I am a voracious reader, and as a result, my mentor is my own personal library—chock full of books by great thinkers like Theodore Roosevelt, Charlie Munger, Jesus Christ and a whole host of folks who I consider to be wonderful philosophers, educators, thinkers, doers, and achievers. My library truly has influenced me the most in terms of my career and my personal development.

Follow Ben Greenfield on Instagram, Facebook and visit his Website for podcasts, articles and more.

Brain-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (Paleo, Keto-Friendly, Plant-Based)

There aren’t too many truly guilt-free foods that spark memories of childhood glee and nostalgia like this Brain-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. It is 100% sugar-free, sweetened only with pure stevia, and full of healthy fats from the hazelnuts themselves, cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed hemp oil, and coconut-derived MCT oil.

Pure hazelnut butter after processing blanched roasted hazelnuts on high for up to 10 minutes.

Pure hazelnut butter after processing blanched roasted hazelnuts on high for up to 10 minutes.

As a classic in our home, this Brain-Health Chocolate Hazelnut Butter gets me through busy workdays and satisfies any desire for something sweet, without leaving me feeling unfocused or sluggish. I know so many people who miss eating Nutella and occasionally sneak the occasional spoonful of a store-bought “healthy” version. Of course, these are still laden with sugar and often undesirable fats. The solution, of course, couldn’t be simpler—this Brain-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter is extremely easy, beyond delicious, and keeps well in the fridge for weeks.

 

Brain-Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Butter (Paleo, Keto-Friendly, Plant-Based)

This recipe yields enough Chocolate Hazelnut Butter to fill one 16 oz. mason jar. You can also fill  small mason jars  to pack on-the-go.

This recipe yields enough Chocolate Hazelnut Butter to fill one 16 oz. mason jar. You can also fill small mason jars to pack on-the-go.

 
 

Ingredients

4 1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
3 tbsp raw cacao powder
1/2 tbsp cold-pressed hemp oil (I use Nutiva)
2 tbsp cold-pressed virgin coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut-derived MCT oil (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
15-20 drops of pure liquid stevia (I use Omica Organics)
1/2 tsp Celtic sea salt or pink Himalayan salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Lay your raw hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and roast for 15 minutes, or until they have darkened and some of the shells are beginning to fall off.

  3. Once cooled, we want to rub the skins off the hazelnuts, one cup at a time. Place a cup of hazelnuts into the middle a clean kitchen towel, wrap it up and rub the nuts. When you’re done with all of your hazelnuts, place the blanched nuts into the food processor. (If you would like to save a little time in the future, know that you can also purchase blanched hazelnuts and skip this step).

  4. Process the hazelnuts on high until the nuts transform into a creamy and smooth hazelnut butter. This step may take up to 10 minutes.

  5. Add the other ingredients, with the exception of stevia, and process until fully blended. Because of varying potencies of different liquid stevia products, I recommend adding stevia last and to taste.

    Yields: 2 cups  | Time: 45 min | Level: Easy

 

The Chocolate Hazelnut Butter will keep in the fridge for up to four weeks and can be kept at room temperature during the day. While you can omit the MCT oil, I love adding it as it makes it extra drizzly. I use this butter to drizzle over raw cakes and pastries, and it’s also beautiful to use when plating desserts.

 
 
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Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Los Angeles based Shanti Kitchen, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. Emilía also instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 

5 Ways to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation exists at the heart of all disease, with many naturopaths, doctors and scientists agreeing that no disease can arise without the preliminary presence of inflammation. With the palpable amount of stressors that exist in our modern world—everything from our cell phones, to the WiFi networks circling around our homes, to chemicals in our food systems—we have to take advantage of the most effective compounds and practices known to reduce inflammation.

  1. Turmeric

    Turmeric may be the world’s oldest medication, with health-focused usage dating back over 5,000 years. In terms of its powerful anti-inflammatory and sports-recovery benefits, much of turmeric’s potential has been attributed to a single polyphenol compound within it, known as curcumin. When it comes to curcumin, 1,000 mg twice per day is how much most people should be consuming for optimal benefits. I also consume up to a tablespoon of turmeric root powder per day, often in the form of golden milk, a shake, or other foods (such as Emilía’s Turmeric Tahini Cauliflower).

  2. Breathwork

Living in a more sympathetic, “fight or flight” state than in “rest and digest” can cause mouth-breathing, hyper-oxidation and eventually, damage to our mitochondria. With an increased number of free radicals being produced and more inflammatory cytokines being put into circulation, our immune systems become impaired.

Through real-time measurements of my and my clients’ heart rate variability and heart-brain coherence, I have found box breathing to be one of the most effective ways to get myself and my clients into a parasympathetic, “rest and digest” state. Here is my modified version of box breathing:

Prior to starting the breath, practice activating your sex organs a few times (as you would if you were trying to stop yourself from urinating) by contracting for 4 seconds, then relaxing for 4-seconds. Repeat this 3-5 times.

Next, inhale slowly and steadily across 6-seconds, expanding the abdomen with air. Then hold the breath in for 4 seconds.

After holding, exhale slowly and steadily across 6 seconds.

Hold your breath “on empty” for 8-20 seconds.

After a few cycles, try activating your sex organs as you inhale and exhale the air out of the nose. You should feel that it allows you to control the airflow and extend the time spent inhaling and exhaling. Extend your inhale and exhale by 2 seconds at a time as you see fit. Eventually, do not be surprised if you find yourself inhaling/exhaling across 20 or more seconds.

3. Cold Immersion

Any form of cold immersion is going to clear the slate on your nervous system and allow you to take control of your day. A simple 3-5-minute cold shower each morning is enough to start reaping many of the benefits of this age-old practice. When you’re ready to take things to the next level, read this article.

4. CBD

CBD is one of the most beneficial compounds for combatting inflammation. When I am in tough training blocks, as I am at the time of writing this article, I completely lather my shoulders with this CBD enriched hemp oil after every upper body workout. This oil combines hemp with curcumin and a number of other natural anti-inflammatory compounds including ginger and eucalyptus. I also take these pills of full-spectrum CBD extract, containing 0% THC.

5. Meditation

Evolutionarily, we are engineered to react to the world around us—it’s how we kept ourselves and our families safe across millennia. However, the “outer world” used to only approach us in ways that demanded a reaction a few times per day. Today, our environment demands our attention thousands and thousands of times per day—not limited to morning traffic, coffee choices, social media and email. If we’re not careful, we can ride these waves and life carries us away.

Meditation allows us to connect with our inner world, giving us a portal into the present moment and a means of working with our emotions. In beginning meditation, the aim is just to anchor our focus and simply bring it back when it gets away from us—think of it as bicep curls for your attention. Just 10 minutes per day of silent deep breathing with your eyes closed, using your breath as an anchor, is a great practice to start with.

 
 
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Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.

 

On Showing Up, Digital Detox, and Being Well — Q&A with Joe DiStefano

Joe is the Founder of RUNGA, and has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. Influenced by his own experience of healing after a traumatic brain injury, Joe’s teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life. As Head of Sport at Spartan Race for 8 years, Joe trained professional endurance athletes and taught trainers all over the world how to best support their athletes year-round.

 
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Q

As a coach, what are the things you most consistently prescribe?

A

Although today I work almost exclusively with executives and “weekend warriors,” the core of my approach hasn’t changed much from my days of working with college athletes and professional runners. Essentially, no matter what you use your body for, us humans have the same operating systems, compensating in many of the same ways, with similar underlying patterns.

For this reason, the most consistent things I prescribe are breathwork, lower-extremity mobility work, and walking. Breathwork begins with proper diaphragmatic activation and spills over into breath-holding drills, patterned breathing, and torso-expansion exercises, such as belly-breathing. This helps the body improve from the inside-out, calms the nervous system, and ensures that the foundation is set for greater work to be done. As for the lower-extremity mobility work, years of walking on a concrete jungle—and often in tight, narrow shoes or high-heels—leave us with feet that hardly function. This creates a ripple effect of dysfunction, starting at the feet and ankles, and moving up to the knees, the hips and so on. Many are surprised to learn that pain anywhere in the body can be rooted in the feet.

As for walking, it simply ties both of these together. After mobilizing the feet and activating the breath, going on a walk can help “upload” a lot of the new software. Sitting is the new smoking—our bodies desperately need movement to be optimally vital and healthy.

Q

We know that your own health journey has hugely influenced you, both personally and in your career. How would you sum up your wellness philosophy?

A

I truly believe that our emotional states, belief systems, self-care tendencies, our day-to-day joy and the quality of the relationships in our lives make up the majority of our wellness. I think of wellness as being the zest an individual has for life, perhaps best represented by the energetic impact they have on the people around them. Interestingly, in contrast to health and fitness, wellness can’t really be measured.

On my own journey, I learned that it isn’t possible to maximize all three—health, wellness and fitness—at once. At my fittest, I could pick up nearly 400 pounds from the floor, but I was far from well mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. When I finally began to work “in” and tap into my higher self, I didn’t have as much space for working “out” anymore.

Today, I’m finally catching my stride with all three. Wellness takes the most effort and patience, but once you do the work, you can play with health and fitness with great passion and excitement. In a sense, wellness sets the base level of consciousness that fuels the other two as hobbies or mindful pursuits—as opposed to punishments for that cheeseburger you ate last night or something.

Q

Digital detox used to play a dominant role in your messaging. Where does that element fit in now?

A

Our reliance on our electronic devices is even more of a problem today than it was a few years ago when I promoted it as part of my, and RUNGA’s, core program. Ironically, the reason that the problem has grown in gravity is the same reason that I don’t pay lip service to it as heavily anymore. The people that need it the most aren’t aware they’re afflicted! The digital addiction is so subcortical that the messaging often falls on deaf ears, or simply doesn't appeal to people. It’s far easier to get their attention with pictures of wine bottles and sandy beaches, and then give them what they really need when they show up!

So although I may not lead with it, I still believe in it whole-heartedly. In fact, the ambiance and culture of a RUNGA event is not very conducive to people being on their phones. Hence, we sort of show people the light and the value of “digital detox” without smacking them over the head with it.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

Ha, all of them! My favorite one was probably the time I took a week’s vacation to the Virgin Islands and then decided to stay another six months. At the time, I had a very successful personal training business in the height of its growth stage. With many other things going on in my life at the time, including rehabilitation from a traumatic brain injury, I knew in my heart that I was beat and truly had no idea how long I could sustain the business.

When I came home, the business was—for the most part—waiting for me. And on top of that, I had restored my energy and my vision for the future was so refined that I ended up building a far more successful business, which I sold two years later.

Q

Is there a particular person that influenced you in your career or personal development? What qualities did you admire in them?

A

The first person to come to mind is Dr. Pete Percouco, a Chiropractic Neurologist in the Boston area and one of the doctors I would frequent during the rehabilitation of my traumatic head injury. Prior to meeting Dr. Pete, I was delivered the crushing blow that “[I’d] be Michael J. Fox by 30.” Needless to say, I was feeling depressed and helpless.

Living within the paradigm of “90% of success is showing up,” I made sure to walk in every day and go through treatment. One day, Dr. Pete—who, by the way, is a larger than life kind of guy—woke me up. Truly the Tony Robbins of my life, he ingrained in me that success is not just about showing up—rather it’s having the belief, the faith, and the intent in, not just the process, but also your unique journey.

From then on, our sessions started lasting an hour or more at times. Dr. Pete taught me about the brain, the areas of my brain that were injured and what those areas controlled. He even taught me about the neurotransmitters that I needed to feel well and believe in myself, and what we were doing to build them up. I learned that you are a walking placebo effect—whatever you think and believe is what you get. Dr. Pete put me on the path that led to where I am today.

Follow Joe DiStefano on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website for support on your own wellness journey.

Real Food Heals: An Afternoon with Seamus Mullen

Last week, we had the pleasure of spending the afternoon with Seamus Mullen, a world-renowned chef with a focus on real, whole-foods, and our chef at this year’s RUNGA Immersion. Seamus is the author of Real Food Heals and Hero Foods, as well as the host of the GoopFellas Podcast.

 
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We started at the famed Santa Monica Farmer’s Market—known for being the largest in LA, and where a lot of the city’s chefs procure ingredients.

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The market truly features some of the best organic produce that California has to offer.

Seamus chose a variety of vegetables that stood out to him—not limited to exotic herbs, whole sorrel, summer squash and colorful radishes.

 

Seamus showed us a handful of his tricks in the kitchen—including his signature technique for rustic summer squash.

The little gem salad featured a beautiful Green Goddess dressing made with avocado and champagne vinegar.

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The meal was not complete without 100% grass-fed flank steak from US Wellness Meats.

Served with a vibrant, flavorful chimichurri to complement the entire spread. We enjoyed these nourishing foods with a light red wine from Dry Farm Wines.

 
 
A variety of plant-rich, fully paleo dishes crafted on the spot by Chef Seamus Mullen. Our favorites included a chilled sorrel soup and sautéed amaranth greens with lion’s mane mushroom.

A variety of plant-rich, fully paleo dishes crafted on the spot by Chef Seamus Mullen. Our favorites included a chilled sorrel soup and sautéed amaranth greens with lion’s mane mushroom.

 
 

Of course, no day with the RUNGA team is complete without cold immersion and movement.

The workout consisted of a combination of kettlebell swings, heavy carries and fanbike sprints. We ended with ice baths to stabilize blood sugar, reduce inflammation and fully bring us into the present moment.

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Follow Seamus on Instagram and Facebook, and visit his website for recipes, articles and more.

Photography by Tammy Horton.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies (Paleo, Gluten-Free, Plant-Based)

These Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies belong in any kitchen that appreciates this classic combo. Simple and sure to fit most dietary specifications, these cookies are truly ideal—both for family snacking and when entertaining guests. This is also a wonderful recipe to make with your little ones.

 
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While I specialize almost exclusively in raw desserts at Shanti Kitchen, I can’t deny that there’s something comforting about the occasional bite of a baked good. Even my regular clients love simple, easy-to-make baked treats that feel like something one might get at a bakery.

With June gloom behind us here in Venice and our Meyer lemon tree in full bloom, I decided it was a great time to share these Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies, made with almond flour. The cookies are sweetened with coconut sugar, and the cream topping with pure liquid stevia. To make these sugar-free, feel free to sub the coconut sugar with Lakanto or pure erythritol.

 

Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies

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Ingredients

Cookies
1 3/4 cup almond flour
1/3 cup + 2 tbsp coconut sugar
4 tbsp coconut flour
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tbsp poppy seeds
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1/2 tsp almond extract

Topping
160ml coconut cream
4-6 drops of pure liquid stevia (or to taste)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.

  2. Add all cookie ingredients to a large mixing bowl, with the exception of the coconut oil, flax egg and lemon juice. Mix together.

  3. After allowing your coconut oil to soften at room temperature, add to the rest of the mixture. If your coconut oil is still pretty solid, you may wish to blend or whip it like you would with cream or butter. We want it to be soft enough so as to not end up with clumps in the dough.

  4. Once everything is mixed really well, your batter may be slightly sticky. Use a cookie scoop to roll the dough into balls. Place on baking sheet and flatten slightly with the palm of your hand.

  5. Bake at 350° for 14-16 minutes, just as the edges of the cookies become golden. Let cool at room temperature.

  6. To make the cream topping, simply combine the coconut cream with lemon juice and stevia. You can whip if preferable, but mixing well with a spoon works fine as well.

  7. Once the cookies have cooled, place a generous dollop of the cream topping over each cookie, and sprinkle a little lemon zest on top.

    Yields: 14-18 cookies  | Time: 35 min | Level: Easy

 
 
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The cookies will keep in the fridge for up to a week, and can be stored at room temperature when serving. At parties, I like to just load a huge platter with these Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies. They never last very long!

 
 
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Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Los Angeles based Shanti Kitchen, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. Emilía also instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 

On Creativity, Following Your Heart and Mindfulness — Q&A with Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Shanti Kitchen in Venice, CA, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. An autoimmune diagnosis at age 12 brought Emilía onto a path of self-healing, both physically and spiritually. Today, she focuses on gut health and a low-sugar, plant-based diet with intermittent fasting as a powerful healing modality. Emilía instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation at RUNGA, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 
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Q

What are some of your most loved kitchen essentials?

A

Good salt! Also good cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. There are so many great salt companies out there, and I personally love importing Icelandic sea salt to bring a little bit of my heritage into the home. As for olive oil, I like La Tourangelle for everyday use, but my favorite is the Frantonio Muraglia extra virgin olive oil — it sits in its white and blue ceramic, abstract expressionist bottle on our counter next to the espresso machine, and has the perfect stout for light drizzling. But I’m definitely a little biased because of its beauty!

Q

Do you ever feel uninspired? What do you do?

A

Of course! It may seem like inspiration should come naturally to those in a creative role, but we all need to prime our bodies to let creativity flow through us in this modern world. Meditation plays an important role, because often we can feel uninspired due to stress, or simply something we are holding onto. I think about this quote from Rumi, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” I see creativity as being very much the same.

There’s so much natural inspiration inside of our wise hearts, and so much creative energy that can flow through us. Practically speaking, I believe that anything that strengthens our sense of self is helpful in nurturing that connection, and that can be anything from journaling, to meditation, to singing! Even being out in nature. This is an area where kundalini yoga in particular has been incredibly helpful to me over the years — getting me into my body and unlocking stagnant energy.

Q

Is there anything you don’t do when you’re uninspired?

A

If I’m feeling uninspired, I absolutely do not go on social media. Inspiration and creativity flow when we feel safe and it doesn’t flow when we’re in a state of comparison, feeling like everyone else is already doing the thing, and they're doing it better. When we are focused on others and what we don’t have, we aren’t in a good place to let our unique creativity and purpose flow through. There’s no trust. And it’s a little bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario, because even if it creeps out, we simply aren’t in the headspace to trust it, to say ‘yes’ to it and bring it to life.

Q

What’s a risk that you’ve taken and you didn’t regret?

A

I spent four years studying law in London and Austin — and I walked away despite my earlier, very strong aspirations of becoming a successful lawyer and, of course, my family’s expectations of me. It’s not that I stopped enjoying it or that I lost my passion for justice, I just suddenly had nothing to prove. And it was what it was.

In truth, I struggled with the duality for a long time. When meditating on it, I realized ‘what a crazy way to live!’ and it felt very natural to me that we would part ways. I let myself live very true to myself for a little while to see what would come out. Within that time period, I felt so connected with myself and my surroundings, and I became so proud of my creative endeavors. Once I shed this thing that I used to see as part of my identity, I truly opened up into a world of infinite possibility. It was incredibly expansive.

To this day, I ask myself what feels expansive and what feels restrictive. And I follow that. You don’t need to know what’s going to happen next. Just let your heart and your gut guide you, and see where you land. You can always measure what you’ll lose, but you’ll never know what you could gain.

Q

How does mindfulness translate to the quality of the relationships in your day-to-day life?

A

I have to say that all of my relationships are deeper on some level. Within a romantic relationship, we of course have the potential to go really deep and I think in some way, this has contributed to mindfulness often feeling like a two way street for folks. You may experience success and deepening with those who are on the same path, but feel resistance with others — or, to correct myself, maybe mindfulness in relationships feels passive unless the other person is also engaged in the process in some way.

As real as that may feel, the truth is that we can improve any relationship by deepening our role within it. Usually, we achieve this by simply by being a good listener and reminding people of their goodness by seeing the good in them. By practicing seeing the goodness in those around us, we naturally get good at uplifting others and letting people know what we see, which of course, anyone who has ever received a compliment can agree, “Yeah that felt good, and it in some small or big way, shifted how I feel about myself.” And that’s how it starts. Meditation and mindfulness really are far from passive in this way.

Follow Emilía Rún on Instagram and Facebook.

Your Guide To (Easy) Herb Oils

Herb oils are a fun and creative way to infuse flavor into any dish. This is the perfect staple recipe for using your leftover herbs. You can use any herb, including parsley, mint, cilantro, tarragon, sage, and thyme—all will work wonderfully.

 
Elevate any dish with this bright herb oil.

Elevate any dish with this bright herb oil.

 

Today we’re making rosemary herb oil. Our garden in Venice has an abundance of rosemary, and I’m never quite sure what to do with it. Besides sending neighbors and friends home with handfuls of rosemary and freshly-cut white roses, we still seem to have more than we know what to do with.

 
One of the abundant rosemary plants in our garden.

One of the abundant rosemary plants in our garden.

 

Traditional herb oil recipes involve blanching the herbs beforehand. This recipe is simpler than the traditional method, as we have eliminated this step. While these processes do yield a beautiful and shelf stable oil, we can achieve fantastic results with raw herbs (and our secret ingredient for color: spinach).

 
Fresh rosemary, cleaned and dried.

Fresh rosemary, cleaned and dried.

 
 

Easy Herb Oil

Ingredients

1/3 - 1/2 cup fresh rosemary or herb of choice, loosely packed
1 handful fresh spinach (optional)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

Instructions

  1. Clean your spinach and fresh herbs and, unless using soft herbs, remove from sprigs. Feel free to leave the stalks for herbs like cilantro and parsley.

  2. Try to get as much water out of the spinach and herbs, making sure they are dry before transferring to the blender.

  3. Add your oil and blend on medium-high for 1-2 minutes. You should see the mixture become smooth and bright green in color (especially if you added the spinach).

  4. Strain the mixture through a chinois or other fine strainer (a Chemex with a steel filter works great as well). The oil may take up to 30 minutes to fully strain.

  5. Once strained, pour oil into a glass container and store in the refrigerator for up to a month. I highly recommend neatly labeling your jars with the type of oil and the date.

    Yields: 1 cup  | Prep time: 10 min | Level: Easy

 

Rosemary in particular happens to be incredibly healthy in culinary doses, with some individuals adding rosemary sprigs to their morning brew for the neuroprotective qualities. A dollop of rosemary oil in your coffee might be a smoother and more effective way of incorporating this healthy herb. If you try it for yourself, I would simply recommend using a neutral oil such as walnut or avocado oil (not extra virgin).

 
Drizzle this beautiful herb oil over any dish for a bright yet subtle flavor infusion, or even to elevate a simple snack.

Drizzle this beautiful herb oil over any dish for a bright yet subtle flavor infusion, or even to elevate a simple snack.

 

This is a wonderful way to get more herbs and healthy fats into our diets, and it happens to look gorgeous when plated. From dressings to marinades to soups, the uses for herb oils are seemingly endless.

 
 
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Emilía Rún

Emilía Rún is the Chef and Founder of Los Angeles based Shanti Kitchen, a paleo, plant-based and keto-friendly cake and catering service. Emilía also instructs kundalini yoga and insight meditation classes, teaching self-compassion as the path to ultimate freedom.

 

Your First Ice Bath — Here's What You Need To Know

With the weather in many parts of the world starting to warm up, you may have had the thought of taking an ice bath or a cold shower. By now, the benefits of cold immersion are well known, yet many struggle to integrate this powerful practice into their regular routine. Before you dive head first into the cold, here are a few things you should know in order to create an enjoyable (and repeatable) experience.

 
As people begin to navigate evolutionary shortcuts in our physiology they no doubt will stumble onto the power of exposing our bodies to extreme cold.

As people begin to navigate evolutionary shortcuts in our physiology they no doubt will stumble onto the power of exposing our bodies to extreme cold.

 

Getting comfortable in cold showers is truly a prerequisite to a sustainable, healthy relationship with cold immersion. Regular cold showers will help you understand the basic physiological responses that you will experience in an ice bath, and you’ll get better at managing them. This will also help you have more pleasant ice baths — both in terms of the time that you will be able to stay in and your body’s reaction to the cold.

When the time comes that you want to give your body that extra shock, this guide will come in handy. Here’s everything you need to know for your first ice bath:

What’s the right temperature?

For most of us, the benefits of cold immersion begin at any temperature that makes us uncomfortable, and yet still empowers us to make the practice part of our regular routine. That means you also don’t want it so cold that you’ll struggle with consistency. Ice baths and cold plunges are typically between 38°F to 45°F, but personally, the sweet spot for me lies somewhere between 45°F and 52°F. You can always stay in longer!

How do I set it up?

Before investing in a tank (such as a cattle trough), start with your home bathtub or locate a spa with a cold plunge. When filling your tub or trough, I recommend using enough water so that you can submerge your entire body up to your ears. Exposing the neck and thyroid gland to the cold is hugely important in order to regulate your body temperature, and will help your body adjust to the cold.

If using a 100 gallon tub or pool, I recommend starting with 60 lbs of ice and 70 gallons of water. This should bring the temperature to about 50 degrees and allow for a tolerable yet challenging jumpstart into the realm of cold immersion.

How do I prepare?

Prior to cold immersion, you want to activate the parasympathetic, “rest-and-digest” branch of the nervous system, and maximize your body’s natural nitric oxide production. You can do this easily using deep breathing. Start with 1-2 minutes each of alternate nostril breathing to help you relax, then incorporate cat-cow and finally end with 1-3 minutes of powerful inhales and exhales through the nose. When you’re ready to step in, do so while holding your breath on an exhale to reduce the shock.

How long do I stay in?

The target time of a cold plunge, especially when considering all the effort you have exerted so far, is three minutes. This is why you should build up to a 5-minute cold shower in the weeks preceding your plunge. Three minutes is also long enough to tap into the most desirable cold-immersion benefits, such as improved blood sugar regulation and fat burning.

That being said, if you are at 50-degrees or just under, the body can withstand far longer than 3-minutes. In fact, the goal after 4-6 weeks would be 10+ minutes at this temperature, which should then be reduced by 2-3 minutes with every 20 lbs of ice added to your 70 gallons of water. The most important thing here is to listen to your body — usually getting out as soon as or shortly after you start shivering.

How do I get the most out of my experience?

Submerging your whole body as you get into the ice bath is another beneficial detail. The total-body dip exposes the whole body, thyroid and back of the neck to the cold, which elicits a more dramatic maximal hormonal response. After the initial dip, you can also dip your face in periodically throughout the plunge, which continues to send a dramatic message into the nervous system, ensuring that you get the benefits that you are after. Remember to breathe through your nose throughout the experience, and know that the first minute is the most painful.

 
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Cold immersion is truly an enjoyable practice — one that you can build a very pleasant relationship with. It isn’t meant to be torture, and it’s important to respect and appreciate it for all of the benefits it can bring you, including the immediate benefit of feeling more awake and present. The most important aspect of the practice is to enjoy yourself.

 
 
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Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.