A Note from Sue & Alex
As our busy Summers come to an end and we welcome the cooler temperatures, it is a perfect time for reflection. Structure returns to our daily lives as we shuttle kids and start new projects before the year ends.
Therefore, it is an excellent time to re-energize our mindfulness practices. As we often discuss at The Ranch, it’s about adding more good into the equation, not taking away or going the all or nothing route.
Just like bringing more water, veggies, sleep and fun to our days, we benefit from adding mindfulness. This can happen in many ways, including:
- Taking 2 minutes upon waking to simply lay still, breathe and think of one thing you are grateful for at that moment before rolling over and getting up.
- Downloading a meditation app and treating yourself to a few minutes each day. Ranch yoga instructor Alison Bristow discusses the benefits of meditation in this newsletter and offers a link to one led by her on the Insight Timer app. You can also try Headspace, Calm or 21-Day Meditation Experience from Deepak Chopra.
- Being conscious of your thoughts. Whatever you are saying to yourself becomes true over time. If it’s all judgmental or negative, quickly rephrase in the positive. It is proven that our subconscious mind believes EVERYTHING we tell it!!!!
- Do one thing each day to make someone happy, your heart will thank you.
Wishing you all a mindfully fabulous Fall!
In Health and Love,
~ Sue & Alex
NEWS & NOTES
Do the Dolomites in 2020!
After another successful Summer in the Italian Dolomites, we are thrilled to return to this beautiful destination in 2020! Staying at the unbelievably charming Hotel Rosa Alpina, you’ll enjoy Ranch-like results as you hike one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the world, all while eating delicious, Italian-inspired, plant-based cuisine. Priced at $8,900, weeklong sessions will run for just seven weeks from August 30th – October 17th with room upgrades available at an increased rate.
Next time you visit Clara’s Clinic, be sure to see our new artwork by artist Aranka Israni. Using only acupuncture needles to form these beautiful shapes, we commissioned three pieces from her Points of Entry Series – Point Noir 64, Grounded Point 204 and Entry Point 192. The number in each title actually corresponds to the number of needles used to create the piece.
The inspiration behind the series began following a particularly intense experience during acupuncture that triggered visceral visions. Israni kept the needles, not knowing what she would do with them, only that these delicate yet strong objects held something, physically as well as symbolically. “In marking just the center point of the page, mandalas unfolded and emerged. To begin with the point or pass through the point. It is the beginning, it is the end, it is pure potential,” notes Israni.
Blue & Basil
The Ranch Malibu Goats
A key part of The Ranch team, our two Nigerian Pygmy goats Blue & Basil have a very important job – to bring a smile to your faces and help you relax! We are firm believers in the power of animals and their ability to reduce stress and anxiety. As such, our goats are here to support you and make your stay even more memorable.
In addition to their role in guest relations, our goats also assist our culinary and garden teams in maintaining a closed system, ready and willing to help finish up any scraps so nothing gets tossed!
Let’s meet our playful our goat girls:
What are you grateful for?
– Our loving home and the people that take such good care of us so that we can help others each day.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
– Seeing the guests’ faces light up when they see us!
Best part of your week?
– The garden tour. It’s especially fun for us to try and sneak out with Wendi at the end and leave with the guests!
Most asked question from guests?
– Why does Basil have a beard? A close second would be is Basil expecting – she’s a bit chubby?
First thing you do when you wake up?
– Search for the barn cat so we can have a staring contest.
– Grape leaves, fresh from the garden, preferably fed to us by our guests
Personal mantra or favorite quote?
– “This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” ― Alan Watts
FROM THE GARDEN
Herbs are an incredible asset to any garden and the unsung heroes of the kitchen. If you are limited in time or space, they may be the only garden you have! Just because the season is changing doesn’t mean you can’t harvest your fresh herbs now and use them throughout the Fall and Winter. With a little help from our Master Gardener Wendi Dunn, you can dry these precious plants and enjoy them all season long!
Why do we dry herbs at The Ranch?
Herbs offer a variety of health benefits. Alongside our footbaths you’ll find an apothecary station so guests can select a blend that will aid them in recovery after our long hikes.
In the kitchen, they add a potent punch of flavor to dishes, often allowing you to cut back on salt without sacrificing flavor. With medicinal benefits that have been used for centuries, they can also be rich in antioxidants that are anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.
What kinds of herbs would you recommend / which ones are the easiest to dry?
How do you dry and store them?
1. Trim herbs with sharp scissors.
2. Air dry. Tie together with twine and hang upside down for 10 days to 2 weeks until brittle.If you don’t have the right location outside to do this, you can place the cuttings into a newspaper, roll up and let dry for about a week. *Keep in mind any moisture can cause mold so if you are in a less arid climate be mindful of any humidity
3. Crush and store in an airtight jar for up to 6 months.
What can you do with them once they are dry?
In the bath:
Cut your herbs and place them in muslin bags for a calming treatment.
In the kitchen:
Use the same type of sachet in a cheesecloth and add it to your soups or roasts. You can also stuff an herb bag into a chicken or turkey cavity during the holiday season.
ON THE MAT
As important as it is to move your body every day, taking a few minutes to incorporate meditation into your life can have a profound impact on your mind, body and spirit. A regular practice can offer a variety of benefits including helping to increase your attention span, improve sleep, lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
Making time for yourself might seem hard at first, but The Ranch Malibu and 4.0 Yoga Instructor Alison Bristow helps to demystify the process. Read on as she shares her insight on getting started and you can also download the Insight Timer app and try her guided meditation at https://insig.ht/PpIVjW1Me0.
There are probably as many interpretations and ways of describing meditation as there are meditators. What I share here is based on my own understanding and practice up to this point, and is no way meant to be the end all be all on a topic as deep and vast as meditation.
In the last few years, the case for meditating has become unequivocally clear to me. Simply put, why would anyone want to live their entire life using only a tiny portion of their mind – and the most chaotic, fluctuating portion at that?!
Studies indicate that the average human has 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts per day. Furthermore, it is said that the majority of those thoughts are repetitive and negative in nature. Just the sheer volume is enough to cause anxiety and most likely why that part of the mind is often referred to as unruly or the monkey mind. Without any deeper awareness to hold it, a person absorbed in only that part of their psyche can begin to feel out of control, depressed or anxious.
The phrase, “tip of the iceberg,” is a useful metaphor in helping people understand the bigger picture of the mind and consciousness. This old adage is based in real-life glacier science that only 10% of an iceberg is visible above the surface while the other 90% is hidden beneath.
For a moment, visualize the mind like an iceberg and imagine that the part we refer to as thinking is only the very surface of that mind – 10% or even less. And then consider that beneath that tip of the iceberg stream of thinking lies the rest of the mind – vast, wide, usually largely unexplored and unused. Consider meditation as what helps bridge the gap between your awareness and the deeper dimensions of your own mind.
The barrier is the habitual attraction (some even refer to it as an addiction) that the vast majority of us have to that one little part of our mind called thoughts, thinking or mental movements. Meditation gets that part of the mind quiet and redirects attention away from it. The goal is to create enough of a space between you (as the one who is aware) and the thinking itself.
In my work with others, I now receive more and more requests from individuals seeking freedom from things like anxiety, excessive stress, phobias and depression. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, people need the added support of another person physically present and supporting them in reconnecting with their own capacity to go inside and connect with the parts of themselves that have been alienated.
What I like to call the non-bells-and-whistles practice involves three basic simple elements:
- Stillness: bring the physical body into stillness
- Quietness: choose not to speak or project sounds out into the environment through the voice
- Inwardly directed focus: this is at first most easily achieved by closing the eyelids.
Once these three elements are at play, you can simply watch what arises within you without the normal distractions and engagement with the external world. Sometimes, again because of the overwhelming importance that has been placed on thinking and doing, this can feel unbearable at first.
To ease this barrier, it often helps to engage in a practice like breath awareness – redirecting attention away from thoughts and onto breath. Simply notice the breath as it flows in and then back out. Even keeping attention on that breath movement for three cycles in a row can noticeably shift the inner and outer state.
I love giving our Ranch and Ranch 4.0 guests an opportunity to experience some of what is described here. Many share that it helps to round out the overall wellness and balance they are seeking to reconnect with when they make an investment in themselves by committing to the rigors of The Ranch.
And keep in mind, reading about meditation cannot give you the experience of meditating and the benefits that go along with it. If you haven’t tried meditating, I hope after reading this you will seek out ways to give yourself the experience. Spaces dedicated to meditation are cropping up around the country. In addition, there are a variety of meditation apps such as Insight Timer, Calm, and Waking Up that can be downloaded right to your mobile device.
I also offer you the following link to try it for yourself HERE
As you look to add more mindfulness practices into your life this season, take the opportunity to make how you eat part of the plan. As we do at The Ranch, have a moment before every meal to pause and take a few deep breaths, this is also the perfect time to acknowledge what you are grateful for. Eliminate any distractions and put your phone away! Eat slowly and make sure to chew your food. Just these simple adjustments can help connect you with your food, your body and those you might be eating with.
You can further support your brain through the foods you eat. The Ranch Malibu Chef Ian Bryant offers a few recipes featuring seasonal ingredients that support a healthy brain so you can take a holistic approach to mindfulness.
This delicious recipe is rich in cilantro, which is full of antioxidants that offer immune-boosting, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective qualities. Its leaves have been found to improve memory, and the herb may also help manage anxiety. Studies demonstrate that its extract is nearly as effective as Diazepam, a common anxiety medication, at reducing symptoms of this condition!
1/2 cup moong dal
1/2 cup Basmati rice
4 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Slices of lime
In a medium bowl, combine the rice and moong dal. Pour enough water to cover the mixture and soak for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pour the mixture into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until it runs clear.
Warm the oil on medium-low heat in a medium pot. Carefully add the cumin seeds and let them cook for about a minute until the seeds start to brown and become fragrant. Add the ginger and ground turmeric.
Add the rice and moong dal mixture into the pot. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Stir and add the 4 cups of water.
Increase the heat to medium-high to bring the mixture to a gentle boil. Turn down the heat immediately to a gentle simmer. Let the kitchari simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you get a porridge-like consistency. It should be soft and creamy.
Taste the kitchari to make sure the mixture is soft. If not, you may need to let it cook a little longer. Add salt or seasoning to taste, and finally, add fresh cilantro to taste and a splash of fresh lime juice.
Blueberry Walnut Balls
Walnuts are hard to beat when it comes to brain food! They have a high concentration of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, which has been shown to protect brain health in newborns, improve cognitive performance in adults and prevent or slow age-related cognitive decline. They also contain the B vitamin folate and minerals calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium (all crucial for your nervous system and brain) along with melatonin to help you sleep better.
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 tsp sea salt
In a food processor pulse the walnuts, dates and oats until uniform.
Next, add the dried blueberries and salt and pulse again until the consistency is uniform and well incorporated.
Take the mixture and roll into bite sized balls, allowing them to set and firm in the fridge until ready to serve.
Pumpkins may be the ultimate Fall food, but did you know their seeds contain powerful antioxidants that protect the body and brain from free radical damage? They’re an excellent source of magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. While all are important for brain health, zinc is especially crucial for nerve signaling. The zinc in these seeds can also help convert their tryptophan to serotonin, which is then changed into melatonin. Paired with the seeds’ magnesium you can improve your sleep quality with every bite.
3 cups pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
1⁄4 cup coconut aminos
1⁄4 maple syrup (grade B)
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chipotle powder
3 tsp salt
Place all of the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Then, place onto a sheet pan lined with either parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake at 300 degrees for 20-25, stirring occasionally. Once the seeds are cooled they will become a delicious, crunchy snack.
IN OUR LIBRARY
The Fate of Food
By Amanda Little
The Four Tendencies
By Gretchen Rubin
The Game Changers
A film by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul
The Relaxation Response
By Herbert Benson, M.D.
The Hidden Life of Trees
By Peter Wohlleben
Signs: The Secret Language of the Universe
By Laura Lynne Jackson
IN THE NEWS