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October Meditation Challenge

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October Meditation Challenge

I know what you're thinking - Meditation & Challenge are an unlikely duo. Isn't meditating all about peace, calm, stillness, & compassion? Well, yeah. Sometimes. But, it's also about learning HOW TO BE WITH WHAT IS, whether that means luxuriating in the juicy silence of those rare moments when we sink into nothingness, or hanging on for dear life as things seem to spin in all directions at once. Can we witness both extremes with a neutral, non-judgmental, undisturbed eye? Can we be THE ONE WHO SEES, the one who LISTENS, the one who LOVES IT ALL?

Can we appreciate that such a practice may feel challenging at times (or most of the time) & know that that's okay? In fact, it's A GIFT. There is FREEDOM & unencumbered CONTENTMENT in the abundance of infinite nothingness & complex simplicity that awaits our arrival WITHIN - should we be willing to accept the invitation & brave the journey.

There are often obstacles & apparent adversaries - potholes, quicksand, peaks & valleys, fires of the flesh, hurricanes of the mind - that aim to pull us back into the stories we've become accustomed to, that delight in watching up gasp for breath beneath the weight of old memories, toxic thoughts, addictions, worries, & ways of being we've carried so long our spines have curved & concretized in compensation. And so, meditation becomes an OPPORTUNITY. A chance to pause, put down the sack we carry, open it up, & peer inside. It is a practice of NOTICING, letting go, & letting be. 

So, perhaps you have decided to get curious - to REMEMBER what it is you are carrying around & how it informs the way you live. And maybe you discover that you've been hanging on to shit that you definitely don't need anymore, but it feels scary at first to leave it behind. DO YOU STRUGGLE WITH LETTING GO? Hey guess what, YOU'RE HUMAN!?! This is SO normal.

So, in the spirit of the FALL season (+ the recent Hunter’s Moon), & its corresponding element of METAL/Gold, the organ systems of the LUNG & LARGE INTESTINE/colon, & the emotions of GRIEF & sadness, we’ve designed a meditation practice to facilitate the SHEDDING of old habits, patterns, beliefs, accumulations, & suppressed emotions through MINDFULNESS & BREATHWORK. When we are able to let go of what no longer serves us (just as the colon eliminates what is unnecessary or toxic from our bodies), to find ways to honor what or who we have lost by loosening our grip, we can create spaciousness within, exhume our innate energy, & welcome in new life (just as the lungs enable us to inhale fresh air & receive the pure Qi of the heavens). Join us for our first ever Instagram challenge, & let our delightful community support you on the journey of letting go & discovering the golden glimmer of your intrinsic worthiness for love & abundance!

This challenge is designed for folks of all walks of life to participate in! If you feel called to RELEASE old programming, attachments, ailments, & emotions, to tap into your POWER, cultivate LOVE & WELLBEING, improve your ENERGY, learn how to BREATHE your way into a CALM centered state, & shift from negative self-talk into a RADIANT force of POSITIVITY & FREEDOM, this challenge is for YOU! 

This is a challenge, which means it's okay to have some fun (it's also totally okay to have moments of sadness, resistance, doubt, etc. etc). To the extent that we can, we are going to share our experiences with each other, because this challenge is meant to foster community while simultaneously developing an inner awareness. And of course, there's a PRIZE at the end (as if radiance, freedom, wellbeing, & greater self-awareness weren't enough?!)! Join us in meditation each day for the chance to WIN a FREE CUPPING or AURICULAR (ear) ACUPUNCTURE session at our beautiful Healing Arts Center in Los Angeles! If you can’t make it to LA (or Santa Barbara), we will gladly gift you a free herbal & nutritional consultation instead. 

One lucky WINNER will be randomly selected & announced on Instagram & in our next newsletter on October 20th.

HOW TO PLAY:

  1. Follow @elementalfamily & @friespirit on Instagram
  2. Tag 3 friends in the comments of today's post who might benefit from participating! Expand your community of support & invite your friends to join you in the challenge! The more the merrier!
  3. Screenshot today's post & share it on your Instagram page or in your story with the hashtag #meditationchallenge & tag @elementalfamily & @friespirit to let your community know what’s up! Sharing is caring
  4. Most importantly, MEDITATE & BREATHE! From Saturday 10/7 through Friday 10/13 (that’s 1 week total), commit to meditating for at least 5 minutes each day. Any time of day will do. We suggest using this month’s Elemental Family meditation, available for free on Soundcloud & linked in our newsletter, as your guide, especially if you are new to meditation &/or you wish to focus on letting go. Other great sources of guided meditations are the apps Insight Timer, Headspace, & Calm.
  5. Throughout the challenge, we will post a daily inspiration & loving reminder to meditate on Instagram. Check in as often as is sensible for you, & let us know you are participating by liking posts, & commenting on what you are letting go of &/or inviting in. When we show up honestly & vulnerably, we allow others to better support us! 
  6. Even more bonus points for posting your own photos to show us how the challenge looks for you or reposting our images to your feed &/or Instagram story with the hashtag & tags listed in #3.
  7. Relax. Stay Curious. Be Intentional - spend a moment each day exploring what you might need to let go of & what you would like to cultivate more of. Write it down. Enjoy the process. Be present to what is. Smile, cry, be still, dance, go inward, journal, connect with others, know what this moment requires. Inhale the good shit, Exhale the bullshit. 

Keep checking in to our Instagram page for challenge details, inspiration, motivation, & tips throughout the next 7 days! 

Will you join us?!

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Autumn-Inspired & Outrageously Delicious Homemade Almond Mylk

Autumn-Inspired & Outrageously Delicious Homemade Almond Mylk

Remember the days when soy milk seemed like the only alt mylk around? Oh, how things have changed! These days, most coffee shops offer multiple varieties of dairy-free mylks, and if you’re lucky, you can even find a local shop that makes its own nut mylks from scratch! I must admit, this has become my top priority when scouting out new cafes. Sometimes you just have to embrace your foodie ways. Hey, that rhymes!

And since my bank account is not a fan of spending upwards of $6 on a matcha latte made with in-house nut mylk on a super regular basis, I opt for homemade drinks most of the time. Also, let’s be real: I’m a huge fan of playing Alchemist in the kitchen. While nut mylks may be making a name for themselves out there in the real world, most baristas will look at you funny if you ask them to toss some adaptogenic herbs into the mix. Literally “doctoring” up my drinks always - just ask my people. So, it’s with a joyful and creative heart that I take you into my kitchen and teach you my nut-mylking ways.

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Today’s ingredient of choice is the subtly sweet, increasingly versatile, often California-bred, much beloved almond. Besides being undeniably delicious, almonds are rich in protein, healthy monounsaturated fats, iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin E. The list goes on. I was surprised to discover that almonds are also the only nuts that alkalize the blood, which is all the more important considering the increasingly acidic nature of the modern diet. According to Ayurvedic tradition, almonds foster our capacity for understanding, revive our spirituality, and bolster reproductive ability. From the perspective of Chinese Medicine, almonds have a predilection towards the Metal organ system. In other words, they impact the Lung and Large Intestine most dramatically. This is especially relevant as we begin to transition into Autumn, the season of the Metal element.

With a mildly warming and sweet nature, almonds aid in the relief of lung qi stagnation and moisten dryness in the large intestine. They can help to transform phlegm, alleviate cough, and “lube the tubes”. So, if you’re suffering from a cough, struggle with asthma accompanied by weakness/fatigue & white or clear phlegm, or constipation due to dryness (infrequent, small, hard stools), consider incorporating more almonds into your diet. However, not all almonds are created equal, and moderation is key as always. You should avoid excessive consumption of almonds in conditions of dampness (i.e., sluggishness, thick greasy tongue coating, edema), and pay close attention to the source of your almonds, as well as the state in which they’re consumed. Organic, raw, soaked or sprouted, and naked (the almonds, silly) is best! Let’s look at why...

Drinking the mylk of almonds is an especially nutritious, gut-friendly, and delicious way to benefit from the powers of these nuts. When you soak almonds (as well as other nuts, seeds, legumes), as you will in this recipe, you help to begin the breakdown of phytic acids, the storage form of phosphorus found in many plants, which inhibits many of the enzymes necessary for proper digestion, and interferes with our ability to absorb certain minerals present in the foods we eat. 

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Removing the skins is an even more effective way to avoid excessive phytic acid consumption, and prevent irritation of the gut lining. This step in the process has become a sort of meditation for me, gently slipping the skins away one-by-one and grinning with satisfaction as the slippery flesh underneath playfully pops into the bowl with a youthful pizzazz. Just as we transition out of our sun-kissed Summer bodies into the purity & twilight of Autumn, soaked almonds shed their skins to reveal the luminous ivory gem within. I like to keep some of the whole, soaked naked almonds aside for drying & snacking on later. Yum.

You’ll want to use raw organic almonds when making this mylk. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. “In response to outbreaks of Salmonella in 2001 and 2004 traced to raw almonds grown in California, the Almond Board of California and the USDA have created a mandatory program requiring all raw almonds to be sterilized through one of several treatment processes that the industry generously describes as “pasteurization.” What this amounts to is a lack of truly raw almonds on the market, and an abundance of almonds chemically sprayed with propylene oxide as a means of “sterilization”. Luckily, organic almonds will not undergo this fumigation process, but they are still pasteurized using a steam method. If you want to avoid the chemicals, opt for organic, or seek out a source of truly raw, unpasteurized almonds from your local farmer or online. If you want to learn more about the madness of almond sterilization and the sketchy,  misleading “raw” label, check out this article: https://www.cornucopia.org/almond/Almond_Fact_Sheet.pdf

Okay, okay, it feels like I’ve exhausted the educational purpose of this post, and should probably get around to giving you, my glorious reader, the recipe you’ve been so patiently waiting for! (But, my friends, make sure you conserve some of that blog-fan endurance & enthusiasm for the content following the recipe, because, spoiler alert: I’ll be showcasing my favorite way to enjoy your finished product!) You’re the best. Here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked
  • 3 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 2 to 4 pitted Medjool dates, to taste
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Small pinch fine sea salt

Directions:

  • Place almonds in a bowl and cover fully with filtered water. Soak the almonds overnight (about 8 to 10 hours).
  • Get some deep zzz’s knowing that the morning promises to be full of deliciousness!
  • Wake up excited to get into the kitchen!
  • Rinse soaked almonds, and drain well.
  • Add almonds into the blender along with approximately 3 cups filtered water, pitted dates, salt, and chopped vanilla bean (or extract). A 1:3 ratio almonds to water is typically best, however, feel free to adjust based on your personal creaminess preference (less water = creamier milk and vice versa. duh).
  • Blend on the highest speed until liquefied (about 1 minute).
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  • Place a nut milk bag over a large bowl (I like to use a 1 quart glass Pyrex measuring cup since it has a funneled edge and a handle which makes transferring it into jar(s) so much easier) and slowly pour the content from the blender into the bag. If you don’t have a nut milk bag (which you can easily purchase online), you can use cheesecloth or a fine mesh colander, but you’ll likely have to strain it a few extra times. 
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  • Squeeze the bottom of the nut milk bag until you’ve extracted as much liquid as you can. Congrats, you’ve gotten a small workout today already! (Pro tip: you can use the fresh or frozen leftover almond pulp in oatmeal, homemade granola, smoothies, and baked goods. Or you can dehydrate and grind it up to make almond meal/flour)
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  • Pour the strained liquid into a large glass jar (think mason jar or glass milk bottle) with a lid. It will stay good in the fridge for about 4 days (honestly I’ve never had any left after 3 days because it’s that good). The mylk will separate after sitting still for a while, so make sure you shake it up again before drinking.

This mylk is delightful all on it’s own, but I like it best in my lattes and smoothies. Check out my almond mylk Adaptogenic Minty Matcha Latte below. It’s full of healing wonder, unbelievably yummy, and freaking stunning if I may say so myself.

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