That was the second tea ceremony I’ve been to. The first one was much shorter, not rushed, but it was shorter. Like a little taster. This one was held by a lady called Baelyn at SKY TING, she has a website called All Matters of Spirit. I booked it a few weeks ago and then when I was ill so I was like “Oh God, maybe I shouldn’t sit, because I’ve literally been lying in bed, or maybe I’ll suddenly feel ill.” But then I was like “No you’ve got to go.” It ended up being amazing. I’ve always been interested in ritual and I’ve always been very obsessed with tea. In England it’s always a shared experience. The minute you walk in someone’s door they’re saying “Can I offer you a cup of tea?” Even when I’m at home, if something comes up, I’ll sit down and have a cup of tea. It solves everything.
Speaking of tea, have you tried our Matcha?
Yeah, I tried it when you did the closing ceremony for The Program. It’s really nice.
You seem like a real seeker when it comes to wellbeing and spirituality, have you always been that way?
I didn’t grow up with any belief system or religion when I was younger. What makes me most connected to [spirituality] is mystery. What’s so exciting to me is that there’s so much in the unknown. There’s something really interesting to respect about the fact that there’s greater energy out there that has its own agenda for us. I very much believe in the butterfly effect. If I miss a meeting and I’m running late, even though I tried my hardest to get there I’m like “Ok I wasn’t meant to be there.” Or I think “That’s weird I just bumped into that person, what does that mean?” That serendipity that happens in our lives has meaning. What’s been really nice is that the further I’ve tapped into that stuff, the stuff that comes up in our subconscious, the more and more I’ve been able to work out what each of those things mean.
What about health and wellness? What aspects drew you into that?
I’ve been very fortunate from a quite young age, in terms of my family’s upbringing. We have always lived very healthy. My parents cooked really clean food, but they never put too much pressure on it or made it something that was regimented. It was always a choice. In my early teens I was hugely into baking. I started thinking of ways I could bake with ingredients that were healthier and through that I was introduced to the healing properties of food. I think my [interest in wellness] was born out of curiosity. Of what I could try to make myself feel better.
This past year my interest and involvement in wellness has upped to a whole new level. I finally turned to food after trying all different types of western medicine for different things I was suffering from. None of it was working and I felt like I had tried everything. We often look for answers and assume that there’s going to be a cure for everything, but there’s not always. There’s definitely ways you can find tools to make things right for you though.
Earlier this year I really stripped back my diet to restart my system. I did 40 days plant based – no caffeine, no sugars, not even any natural sugars, and no alcohol. Afterward, I slowly introduced food groups to sort of work out what was right for me. In those 40 days I felt so connected to food in a really interesting way. I felt so connected with nature. Not only was I stripping back but I was also adding. I think we always associate eating less with making yourself look better, but I found the most beneficial thing was adding. Adding these foods that have certain properties, whether it’s antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or all these different beneficial things.
I think it’s so important to add to your diet. To replace bad with good instead of just taking things away and feeling deprived. Was there anything during those 40 days that you tried to add back into your diet that you couldn’t handle anymore?
Yeah, I introduced gluten and it didn’t really have that much negative effect, so I can eat it when it’s not processed. Adding dairy back caused flare ups, so I continued to not have that in my diet. Weirdly, I can have goat’s milk or goat’s yogurt and cheese.
Certain sugars I can have sometimes, but generally I don’t have loads. I used to love fruit as a child but now I find it quite acidic. During this whole detoxing experience I was just excited by how good the foods made me feel. They really did work for what I had been trying so long to find in other medicines. It was really exciting to realize I can simply add these things and have balance.
How has your mental and physical state changed since making all the changes to your diet and lifestyle?
It’s made me feel more empowered knowing I have all these choices and tools to make myself feel the best I can. It enables me to have more time for work. Before, certain things I was suffering from were debilitating. It’s created more time and space for me to get on with my creative endeavors. Certain practices enabled me to find some sort of rhythm and structure to my day. I found that certain practices that I know I do the same everyday enable the rest of my work to sort of fit in a natural rhythm
Can you tell me more about the practices you do on a day-to-day basis?
I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes, that’s the first thing I do in the morning. I try not to do anything until I meditate. I don’t check my phone or even have a shower, those things sort of stop the mind, so I’ll just go straight to a mantra meditation. I was doing mindful meditation for a year and a half but it wasn’t until about 4 or 5 months ago that I really started the sort of practice that I found was helpful. I started to see huge benefits and changes after that. [After meditation] I probably have some tea to wake myself up and lots of water. I’m really obsessed with Sun Potion products so I usually make a drink that has different variations of those according to how I’m feeling.
What are your favorites from Sun Potion?
After breakfast I like to go outdoors. Because I work a lot from home, I like to feel like there’s some sort of separation from sleeping to waking. If I’m not doing yoga or exercise, I’ll just go for a walk and get coffee, then come back to my desk. In the afternoon, my concentration or stress is often bubbling away around 3 or 4 o’clock and that’s when I sit again to meditate. In the evening I’ve always been obsessed with baths, so I’ll always have a bath. It’s the easiest way to put me to sleep and ground me. In terms of skincare products, I just changed back to a cleanser I used ages ago. It’s a London brand, Pai, that you guys carry. I used to use them a year or two ago, then I almost forgot about them, but recently I re-bought that one.
I also recently just got the Black Chicken Complexion Polish. It’s nice because it’s so fine. I usually find salty exfoliators too abrasive for my skin. And then at the moment I’m using a Laurel Facial Serum: Balance, then I use the De Mamiel Dewy Face Mist.
You were saying you’re about to leave for London for 7 weeks. Your schedule is probably going to be crazy there. What are some things you do to ground yourself when when you’re busy or feeling stressed?
My best tool at the moment is knowing that wherever I go, I have my meditation practice to fall back on. Hydration is a huge key to traveling. I find that yoga and stretching are great too. My uncle once told me to put your feet on the ground, if you can find a park or anything on the earth, the day you land. I did that recently when I went to Australia. I stood on the beach for ages and that helped. I’ll try to do that in the park with my parents when I get back. When I go back to London it’s simple because I’ll be eating and cooking from a kitchen and that makes things easier.
Really the hardest thing when you’re traveling is staying in hotels. Especially when you don’t have the leisure of finding the nearest whole food place to go to. That’s why I think research is really important. I’m also someone who takes things with me. I take some herbal tea bags or different stuff to have when I’m traveling.
How do you feel London compares with New York in regards to health and wellbeing?
The accessibility is definitely increasing [in London]. In the last two years fitness, health and wellbeing have become a much more hip thing to be interested in. People are understanding that stopping for a minute to take care of yourself is not necessarily an indulgent thing, but actually a positive thing. Before, English people could be quite shy and self deprecating. It’s not really part of our sensibility to be quite like “Oh I did this for me.” People usually shy away from that so it’s quite nice to see people have realized that self care is a positive thing that can hugely benefit your wellbeing, quality of work, quality of life and quality of relationships.
Can you share a few people from your black book of health and wellness practitioners in New York?
I go to SKY TING frequently. I have this amazing 5-element acupuncturist healer guy that I see called Chris Chen. He’s amazing. What’s great about New York is there’s always so many different events you can go to. So many are free and my general curiosity has definitely made me try a lot of different things. My friend Desiree has a great moon gathering that I really love. Your facials are definitely up there on the list.
What drew you into CAP for the first time?
It was actually your events that I heard about first. The first thing I came to was a NADA Meditation. I found you guys through Instagram. I came to that event and then I was sort of looking around like “Ah, there are so many things, where do I begin?” I had a facial and from that facial was able to really choose products that were working for me rather than sort of taking a stab at guessing myself.
You clearly take more of an inside-out approach to beauty, do you want to expand upon that a bit?
So many things relate to how you feel, how you look and how you feel within yourself. So often you can feel great, then suddenly it doesn’t necessarily relate to the physical self. From a young age being well has always been an important thing in my day to day. I think the first step to it is awareness, and then with that awareness you can use certain tools to help you feel beautiful and feel well. The more tools you find that work for you, then the more you find the right beauty for you. I found the more knowledge I’ve had the more I’ve realized it’s a personal thing and it comes internally from me. I’m not trying to compare the way I feel with other people. Different things work for different people and [beauty] will radiate out when it’s ready to radiate. When you’re ready to show it. I’ve found in the last few years figuring out what I want to be doing, I’ve veered much more towards my writing and directing, and the happiness and confidence that I have in that realm has naturally shown itself in the form of beauty. I feel so grounded in my daily practice that it’s naturally showing because I feel better as a result.
What does Beauty is Wellness and Wellness is Beauty mean to you?
Everything works in cycles and in circles. You can get so frustrated by trying something to make yourself feel well or to make yourself feel beautiful if you don’t have the patience for it to come back around. For so long there were certain things that I was doing to make myself feel better and I would look at it with a bit of frustration and impatience rather than allowing it to take it’s time. You have to be patient and you have to have a good intention. Whatever goes around comes around in a sense that if you put the energy into feeling beauty for you and for other people, then you’re going to feel well and that wellness is beauty. To me they are one thing.