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.

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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.

 
 

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.