Treat hot with hotter

There’s an old Korean saying, “treat hot with hot”. The application is such: when you’re hot, as on a hot day, eat hot soup. Taking in something hotter causes you to cool down.

Doesn’t make sense? Try it.

This past Saturday, the temperature hit 105F in Los Gatos. Temperatures were rising in the days leading up to the weekend. It just so happened to be the week I started working on another backyard garden project.

I started trimming the outer leaves of drought tolerant plants and laying them as mulch over some dry dirt beds to prepare soil for vegetable growing. Fruit trees needed to be harvested, late summer seed to be sown, and spring plants cut and laid as ground cover. I’m using some ideas from Masanobu Fukuoka’s One Straw Revolution to rewild the garden.

Most days I was out working in the middle of the day, through to the evening. I was in full sun, with short sleeves or shirtless. From Monday through Thursday, I wore jeans. On Friday through the weekend, I resorted to shorts. I wore a hat that shaded my face and neck when it got too bright.

Each day started with a big drink of water, kettlebell swings and getups, and then another big drink of water. I usually planned out the general tasks, mostly doing the heavy cutting and hauling work in the beginning, and ending with fruit picking and planting toward the end. I sweated a lot. At times I felt a bit faint while working, but a moment of rest with some slow breaths helped me recover. Occasionally I went inside and cooled off, drinking water and looking up various gardening blogs.

I tanned, but didn’t burn. This may have been because I spread a little coconut oil on my skin. I also think that working under the sun in mostly standing and squatting positions will not lead to skin damage the way that laying out to “tan” will.

Because I was outside every day in the heat and the sunlight, I adjusted to it. When I was indoors, I didn’t need air conditioning. Previously intolerable heat became quite tolerable, if not comfortable. As a matter of fact, when we drove into town on Saturday, I realized that the AC in the car was actually causing my internal temperature to go out of whack. It felt hotter and hotter as the AC blasted against my skin. Turning it off and opening the windows to the hundred degree air actually helped my homeostasis normalize. I felt more comfortable.

Just like every other plant and animal on this earth, humans can adjust to changes in temperature pretty well. Just look at all the different climates humans have inhabited. The thing is now, so many people are in air conditioned rooms all day, every day, that they are not letting themselves acclimate to the natural changes in temperature.

There’s something about going with the seasons and melding in with the rise and fall of the heat. Just being able to work through a very hot day dispelled a lot of misunderstanding about a human’s capabilities. Sure, it’s vital to drink enough water when doing this. But even in hundred degree weather, a few gulps before, and then a few gulps a couple of hours later, was sufficient to keep me sustained and strong. Remember, too, that this was all preceded by thirty minutes of kettlebell training.

This is just an example. No need to deliberately put yourself through unreasonable conditions. Know that you have a body that can handle a lot. And let yourself feel the limits here and there. Try not to automatically reach for the AC when you feel a bit warm. Breathe, sweat, acclimate.

Yes, sweat. That thing that we all try to avoid doing. Its your internal climate control doing its natural work. It also helps you release stress. And it cleans your skin from the inside out. Find the time and the place where you can just let go and literally be yourself.

And yea, try some hot soup on a hot day.

Live powerfully,

Steve

What I’ve Been Chewing

I know it’s been too long since I’ve written to you.

I’ve been traveling and figuring things out lately, and haven’t sat down to write in a while. There’s lots I want to share with you. Here are several things I’ve been pondering, developing, and talking about with people around me. Most of them you’ve seen from my blog before, but wellness is never a one-time deal for me. Being healthy is about practice, trying, developing, and building layers.

These items mostly came out of traveling and being “on the road”, meaning no gym, no permanent home, limited resources for training and cooking. I hope you find this useful, whether or not you’re traveling. After all, I started a lot of these things while working in a corporate office and living in Los Angeles. So it’s all transferable. Here they are.

Gentleness

There’s a book I love called The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness, by Pema Chodron. It’s about the wisdom in accepting your circumstances, loving yourself, and not rebelling against who you are. The book is written by a Buddhist teacher, mostly for people seeking the philosophy and technique behind Zen meditation. I read this in college, and the book has carried over to all other aspects of my life. Including physical training.

One of the biggest downfalls of the fitness industry is that consumers are not encouraged to take things slow, to work on themselves gently, and to train for the long game. Trainers, coaches, supplement companies, and magazines are full of the notion that the body has to be broken to become better. It’s your body. You don’t have to break it, or suffer, to become stronger. That’s not how things work.

In the short run, you might get big muscles, snaky veins, and a six pack. I understand the need to have these things. It’s been pounded into our psyches by mass media, and it’s part of our primordial urge to be fit. But what about the long run? Will you be well, functional, pain free, and freely moving years, decades down the road? Do you care?

There is a way to be strong and to remain strong for the long game. And that way involves gentleness. It requires you to learn about your body in every possible way as you develop your wellness. Be gentle with your eating. Be gentle with your body, your moving, your training. Be gentle with your mind. This comes into play when you realize that you are not going to get some specific result immediately. Eating a salad today won’t make you skinny, lean, and virile tomorrow. And it doesn’t help to eliminate fats, proteins, and carbs from your diet. See how going rough leads you into a downward spiral?

Step back, make gentle pushes, observe results. Test yourself, but don’t break yourself. The object of the game is to grow, to learn, to be healthy, happy, and capable.

Barefoot training

Feet have a structure and function that work only when they are unhindered. You have the ability to redevelop your foot structure, the right stance, the right walk, and the right movement patterns. It starts with taking off your shoes. Go barefoot at home, around the hood, and wherever you can in the outdoors. It’s just one of those things that gets easier the more you do it. So start tiny.

We will see many products hit the “barefoot” market. Shoes, sandals, socks, sports equipment, and hopefully even transportation that lets us be close to barefoot all day long. I think this is progress. However, these products do not make you barefoot. Simply using your bare feet is different. Barefoot cannot be replicated. A “barefoot running shoe” is not barefoot. It is a shoe.

Train barefoot. Do strength training without shoes or socks. You can do them all if you start from zero, go gently, and progress responsibly. I have done deadlifts, squats, kettlebell, and body weight exercises barefoot. Orthopedic insoles did not help me. I had prescription plastic insoles for most of my adolescent years, into college. The pain of walking, running, and standing in shoes went away like magic. But guess what the price was? My feet got flatter and weaker, more prone to strains, and less and less able to hold me up the way they are supposed to.

Then I started following Kelly Starrett, and shed the insole supports. I wore flat shoes instead. Then I wore huaraches. But nothing beat walking barefoot outside, running barefoot on the grass and sand, and lifting barefoot at the gym. These activities, over three years, rebuilt the shape and mechanism of my feet. I now have arches.

So this is where I would link you to a product that I used, but I can’t because there is no product. You just simply need to take off your shoes and socks. However, there is technique that you need to use for proper development. Just like with all other parts of your body, such as your knees, your back, and your shoulders, for example, feet have a correct position and movement pattern. Place your weight on the parts that are meant to hold weight: the sole, the outer blade, the balls of your feet, and the toes. You’ll see that your arch, or insole if you don’t yet have an arch, doesn’t have to touch the ground. You’ll feel that springiness in your step. Walking, running, jumping. Try them all barefoot.

Figure it out and rebuild yourself from the ground up. If you need coaching, I can help.

NL 152 Barefoot Training Body Weight Squat The Brilliant Beast Blog.png

Fat first

From five years of self experimentation, drinking butter coffee almost every morning, traveling and eating for optimal energy, and talking with others experimenting with eating more fat, I continue to find that “fat first” works. This means eating fat for the first meal of the day, whether that be in the morning or afternoon or night. It means eating fat before eating other foods during any meal, or at least at the same time. Try grass fed butter melted into rice. And “fat first” means making sure to eat good fats, from good sources. Why?

Because fat is filling, fat is the building block of cell membranes and your nervous system and your brain, and fat gives you energy. Eating good fat from healthy animals ensures that you get the nutrition your body and brain needs before you fill up on other things like starch. Eating fat first means you get satisfaction and feel fuller from it. It helps guide me in my meals, because as long as I eat good fats I know how much of other stuff to eat. I feel more balanced in my urge to eat rice, veggies, and meat when I am eating good fats. Don’t think I don’t eat carbs. I eat lots of carbs, because I need it for my body composition, level of training, and daily activity. But my eating is moderated by the fat I’m eating. I guess I can say that fat is my primary source of satiety and energy, and my starting point for measuring hunger and portions.

Here’s an example of how fat is my nutrition measuring tool: if I feel the munchies, cravings, or urge to eat dessert at night, despite having eaten dinner, I’ll rewind through the day to see how much fat I’ve eaten. Most times, I’ll realize I forgot to mix butter into my rice, or didn’t have my usual butter coffee, or didn’t get the chance to eat any good quality fat that day. If I can, I slap a slab of grass fed cow butter onto some sweet potato and have at it. Fat first.

NL 152 Fat First Grass Fed Butter Coffee The Brilliant Beast Blog.jpg

Kids and perfect form

I am fascinated by kids who are allowed to develop physically without the restraints of bulky sneakers, cribs, seats, and overprotection. My friend lets his son walk, run, roam, climb, and play more than most parents I’ve seen. He also lets him do this barefoot, even outside. When shoes are necessary, they are soft, flat on the bottom, and flexible enough for the feet to do their natural job. The result is incredible.

My friend’s son is a dense-bodied mover, and he is able to hold his core rigid when he’s lifted off the ground, flipped overhead, and swung back down. He holds perfect spine alignment as he deadlifts a suitcase off the floor. This beloved mini-athlete sometimes gets into a yogic child pose, stretches out on his belly, and lifts his arms and legs off the floor in a reverse plank. It’s all play to him. And he’s barely a year and a half old.

I laugh and marvel at his feats of mobility and strength. At the same time, I feel excited about what this little kid represents. He shows me it’s possible to have a perfect squat as natural and easy as yawning. He proves to me that movements like the deadlift and positions like straight feet and straight spine in the squat are natural. It gives me an example to follow. Since the kid hasn’t been molded into cushy shoes, and since he hasn’t been confined to classroom chairs, his movements are intact. He pushes his limits all the time in the weight of the bins he lifts, the suitcases he pushes, and the stairs he climbs.

Doing these things is challenging in themselves, but doing them with minimal risk of injury and optimal strength is natural only because limitations are not yet put on our little friend. So what if you’re starting today, having already gone through the body-morphing gauntlet of “civilization”? You’re not alone. Modern life’s walls came up, boxed you into the appropriate shapes, and contracted your physical and spiritual expressions into the norms of the day.

It’s not about being a kid, or about glorifying childhood or youthfulness. No. Just look at the human form in its beginning stages, and you can find movement and position as it was meant to be. You can train your malleable body to obtain the strength, movement, and positions of human expression. The full squat, the unhindered overhead arms, the use of joint torque, and spine alignment are all obtainable with training and practice. Possessing natural physical expression and the strength to maintain it will free your mind and soul to build toward your greatest goals.

Live powerfully,

Steve

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Marsing

People are going to live on Mars. Elon Musk gave this talk recently about living abroad. It inspired me to think about life on Mars. I can see that humans will find a way to travel to and live in other parts of the galaxy. To see space as a real frontier makes Earth appear as just one of many possible homes.

I believe all elements of the universe are connected. Everything, everywhere, follows the same laws of nature. Attraction, orbit, and energy pervade throughout. We just look at it differently depending on the context. What’s the difference between a thrown ball landing on the ground and the 12 or so planets orbiting the sun? Nothing. Both situations follow the same rules, and they in fact are part of the same system. So naturally, I think it may be possible to live on Mars if it is possible for us to live on Earth.

Obviously, there are a lot of problems to address. The temperature, the gases, the chemical makeup of the planet, the length of the days and years, and the distance from Earth. But I liken the venture to a familiar one that many people can attest to: living in the wild. If you ask the average person whether they would be able to survive in the wild if they were forced to, most would say yes with varying qualifications. The idea is that no, they haven’t done it before, but they are pretty sure they can.

The problems with living on Mars are numerous, and I think there are many problems with living on Earth we haven’t yet solved. There are still diseases that evade our medical treatments. Autoimmune conditions are still being investigated. Cures and recoveries are sparse and not fairly discussed in the medical community. Solutions to much of what we suffer as a species are band-aids rather than the stitches that are needed. And so people work to discover more.

One of my main concerns about my life on Earth is my connection to the ground energy of this planet.

“Earthing” is known as making skin contact with the bare ground on Earth. In the context of our own planet, the EMF and the charge that is produced in Earth is well known. This energy that surges through us as we ground ourselves is measurable and the benefits to the human body has been documented. Free and mobile electrons from Earth’s surface provide antioxidant action that reduces inflammation.

Regular contact with this energy is necessary for a thriving life. It’s something people and animals and plants have been connected to since “the beginning”. Recently, things have changed for humans, our pets, our plants, and zoo animals. Isolation from the earth’s surface leaves a living being with unnecessary, low levels of inflammation. This is dangerous for people prone to autoimmune disease, and limiting for everyone else. The solution, of course, is to be barefooted on bare earth regularly. Earthing.

“Marsing”, or earthing on Mars, is a concept that popped in my mind as I thought about the general mission to populate Mars. What is not known is the effect of “Marsing”. What happens when a person makes skin contact with bare ground on Mars? Provided the outside temperature permits, is there a surface energy capable of maintaining antioxidant needs for humans and other earthlings? And when the temperature is unbearable for a person to be barefooted, whether too cold or too hot, is there a possibility of “Marsing” through grounding pads plugged into an energy source? Is the composition of Mars soil healthy, harmless, or poisonous to a human?

It’s encouraging to see the progress of SpaceX and other organizations to make people interplanetary. There are already many astronauts who have lived extensively in space, away from the surface of the Earth. Even chimps! So it is possible to measure the effect of isolation from grounding in space and on other planets like Mars. It just hasn’t been done yet.

How does Mars compare to Earth in this respect? Earth’s surface has a charge of -1 nC per square meter. According to this Drexel University physics course calculation, the surface charge of Mars is -2.21 nC per square meter. This would put the Mars charge at more than double Earth. It is on the order of a nano-Coulomb, which is tiny, and would seem to be harmless upon skin contact. This will need to be tested.

The system of earthing seems to be an electrical one. But like all other natural things that are broken down to specific parts to isolate the benefits, the result may not be the same. Let’s say this charge on Mars, in the long term, is not healthy for humans.

A generator could produce a similar charge, in theory, as that found on the Earth’s surface. It wouldn’t need to be much. People could hook themselves up to grounding mats, like the one I use daily, to access an artificial ground charge from a generator. It seems doable. But is it the same as touching bare ground?

There are clearly benefits to using earthing mats for recovery from inflammation. In this study I highlighted previously, subjects attached to grounding pads were found to recover faster from pain and tissue damage.

Human life on Mars will need a lot of technological aide. There’s lots of talk about terraforming, heating, and accessing water on the Red Planet. But what about the electromagnetic field?

Thinking through the hurdles of Mars life is a good practice for thinking about Earth life. I think the problems of Mars life point directly back to life on Earth today. Do we breathe clean enough air? Is our energy source really endless? Can we sustain civilization with solar power? What is the impact of isolation from the planet’s surface energy?

There are many parallels in wellness issues on Earth to those we’ll face on a strange planet. Perhaps thinking in the context of Mars life can help us improve Earth life.

Go out and touch the ground we so freely have. And forward this to anyone you know who is working on preparations for a life on Mars.

Live powerfully,

Steve


Image Credit: By Moyan Brenn from Anzio, Italy (Mars) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/32/Mars_%2813026811355%29.jpg Edits: cropped to 600 pixel width and removed name.

Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever?

Universal Mat Kit

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Note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.
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Mobilizing Out of Inflammation

I was going to the gym today but almost canceled on myself.

I had made the wretched choice of eating a donut last night. When I do such things, I didn’t give enough credit to the consequences. Sure, I get some after effects, I told myself. Little achiness, brain fog. Funny how time befuddles memories.

It was an inflammation bomb. First came the wheat coma. I was reading and had to drag myself to bed, it was so bad. I fell into instant sleep for an hour, and woke feeling hungover and tender. My trap and shoulder blade area were tight in a knot, so I rolled it out on a lacrosse ball.

Did some deep breathing, drank my vitamin C and magnesium mix, and tried to sleep. No go.

My stomach was upset. I got up and had some kombucha. I thought of taking charcoal, but didn’t want to absorb the magnesium that I had already taken. Lesson learned next time.

It took me a few hours of reading to get to bed. When I woke this morning, I still felt hungover. Butter coffee and some eggs helped. I was determined to go to the gym today, and I gave myself a couple of hours to warm up.

Well, when I went outside to check my squat position, I was surprised to find myself so kinked up. Thus it was:

 

This was class one tightness, inflammation to the max. Everything felt rusty and I could barely get down into the squat and hold it.

Feet splayed, torso wrapped over my knees. And really, really tight in the hips. It was time for some major mobilization.

Hip Mobility

First the hips. I’m jamming down with my pelvis to get into the tight areas and loosen them up. I also extend my front leg to get in deeper on the tissue near the knees. Try and you’ll feel it:

Ankle Mobility

Ankles flex through the calves. So I work on the calf and achilles tendon. Keeping my leg rigid at the knee and hip, I lean hard and hold for a minute or two. Sliding over to either side helps to mobilize in more directions.

 

I did a squat retest at this point, meaning I got down in the squat to see if there was any difference. The first photo shows me holding my hands up overhead. I’m doing this to test my shoulders, to see if they are mobile enough for me to hold this position. Pretty tight here, as you can see I’m not holding them in line with my torso:

 

My hips were feeling smoother, and I was able to get down with feet straighter forward. My torso was more upright, but there was still a bit of tightness holding my midback in a curve.

Shoulder Mobility

I addressed my shoulder mobility to open up the chest and torso. This can help with keeping the upper body straight during the squat. I’m doing an exercise called shoulder dislocations here:

NL 123 Shoulder Dislocations The Brilliant Beast Blog.GIF

Geez was I tight. At this point I was about to push my training session back one day. With bad mobility, heavy lifting is not advantageous. Better to wait until I’m able to get into good positions. Squat retest after shoulder dislocations.

Functional squat depth for weight lifting, side and front:

 

And a full squat:

NL 123 Squat Retest 2 Full The Brilliant Beast Blog.JPG

I wanted to test my weightlifting position, in addition to the full squat. I don’t go all the way down when I’m loaded with weight.

You can see I’m able to get down with my feet pointed forward. My torso is not perfectly upright, but it’s much more mobile and no longer glued to my knees.

After much tweaking, I actually freed myself up enough to train.

Add me on Snapchat to hear about the training session. Yea, the picture’s silly.

Snapchat The Brilliant Beast Blog.jpg

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

Basking For A Boost

Brilliant Friends,

It was necessary that I get outside. Yesterday morning I was tired. I haven’t been able to use my earthing mat during the night. Long story. So I ripped off my shirt and soaked in some sunlight.

It’s amazing what a few moments in the sun can do. I watered my head down with a hose, barefoot on the concrete, and squatted for a bit.

UVB rays hit the skin and spur it to make vitamin D and cholesterol sulfate. Basically, it makes me feel good and high on life to bask in the sun. If you’re feeling drab, flat, low, it might be time to get out under nature’s heat lamp of joy.

Just try not to overdo it. Too much time in the sun and I start to feel dizzy, tired, spent. And I get skin damage. But leave the sun block behind.

From the research I’ve read, our skin needs the sun to come through to get the boost. So I go bareskinned. Feel it out for yourself. Wait until you feel warm and fuzzy inside. Let yourself bask. And when you’ve had enough, remember that there’s another day to get more.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

What I’m Sitting On Right Now

Hey guys,

Hope you’re having a great weekend. Here’s something that’s been changing my life for the last five years.

I’m sitting on a mat that’s plugged into the grounding plug of a wall outlet. It’s transferring earth’s free electrons to my body. As long as my skin is in contact with it, I’m at a near earthing voltage.

Connecting to the ground is known as earthing.

Free electrons act as antioxidants without the metabolic side effects of food-derived or body-produced sources. Antioxidants are involved in diffusing oxidizing agents that cause damage, both intended and unintended, at the molecular level. Free electrons travel through to body and affect everything from muscle training recovery, infection response, and DNA transcription.

Most of us sleep on beds in rooms isolated from the earth. There’s no electron flow to our bodies during the night, a crucial recovery time. During sleep we go into healing mode and rebuild damaged tissues, fight infection, and process new experiences from the day. It’s important that we have free mobile electrons flowing to our tissues, cells, and DNA during this process.

I’ve been sleeping with this earthing mat at the foot of my bed for the past five years, consistently. When I’m not outside, this is my access to the earth. It’s comfortable, with the hard-to-find conductive cover included in the link below. When I’m at home reading or writing inside, I bring the mat with me.

The subjective results for me are clear. My sleep is deeper, I feel more relaxed, healed, and richer in mind when I wake. I feel less inflammation. For these benefits, I even traveled with it for the past four months. I earthed in my sleep through Indonesia, Thailand, and Korea!

Once in a while, I’m not able to use it at night. This is usually due to a faulty wall outlet. The kit comes with a tester plug to tell you if the outlet is grounded. An ungrounded outlet is devastating! When I don’t sleep with my mat, I’m more tired because sleep is more shallow. If I have a really tough day, physically or emotionally, and don’t have my earthing mat, I get symptoms like allergic coughing, achy joints, and fuzzy-headedness. I try to make up for the lost time earthing by getting barefoot outside for as long as possible.

The difference from earthing is huge. It’s strange that this simple mat can make such a change. It doesn’t heat up, create crazy vibrations, or do anything but transfer free electrons from the ground to your skin. Even if it’s just a placebo effect, I would still use it for the rest of my life. But I am convinced from my five years of using it that this is not a placebo.

No doubt, being outside barefoot is the absolute best, most direct way to ground yourself. But we haven’t found a comfortable way to sleep on the bare ground yet (just wait). So night time leaves a big earthing void. In my experience, the earthing mat is the next best thing.

Check it out, look through my posts here to learn more, and take the leap!

How earthing balances the immune response – collection of research on earthing

Earthing on the road – earthing in southeast Asia
Explore barefoot – earthing in Arizona and Utah
Earthing, rain or shine – on grounding, lightning, and earthing in Los Angeles

Take barefoot walks to relieve stress – how I dissolved residual work anxiety

Live powerfully,

Steve

Earthing Universal Mat with Cover Kit

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I link to tools that I have used, found meaningful, and that I believe could benefit my brilliant readers.

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

The Semi Conductive Body

It is the year 2016.

I stand barefoot on the ground and listen.

A four hundred thousand kilogram vessel of shining metal soars through the air above me. It’s so far up I barely make out the glint of light and whisper it makes as it passes. The jumbo jet glides ten kilometers above ground at 900 km/hr.

My mind travels further up, past the stratosphere, where another four hundred thousand kilogram structure swings past the plane. The International Space Station zooms 400 kilometers above ground at 27,000 km/hr. It’s been circling this planet since 1998.

My kind, Homo sapiens, have forged technologies that allow us to roam the skies and beyond like no other creature can. Michael Faraday made the electric motor in 1821. The term “electricus” was coined in 1600 by William Gilbert upon studying static electricity. The ancient Egyptians wrote of Thunderers of the Nile, electric fish that held the power to shock. Earliest record dates to 2750 BCE.

From the gargantuan, we humans have developed down to the miniscule. There is a microrobot in development to insert into and operate on a diseased human eye. Others can crawl through a blood vessel to visualize and treat exact deficiencies.

I turn my attention to ground level, to the oldest and most sophisticated technology available to us. Within the cells of my body, and even closer, to the proteins that form these cells. When wet, these proteins allow electrons to flow. The entire structure of my physicality consists of proteins that are interconnected and surrounded by water.

The earth’s electrons are pulled through the protein complex that makes up my skin, muscles, bone, and even cells and DNA at the tiniest level. Every bit is connected by semi-conductivity. The protein complexes allow electrons to flow because of the water that surrounds them.

There’s an electron reservoir within my body. My tissues can hold a “full charge” of electrons that are used when there is oxidation. If I don’t step outside, I’m depleted of my electron source. I must then draw on other sources. Antioxidants from my diet and body synthesis can only go so far to fight damage. When these are depleted, especially with a life of stress, my immune system weakens.

So I bring my body, this formulation of ancient technology, out to connect with the earth. I renew my supply daily. I have had to engineer a life that allows me to step outside, barefoot, every day. I’ve rediscovered the way to more fully harness this technology. There’s more, I’m sure of it. So much more to discover. Yet, I’m quite certain it’s already been known, by someone, somewhere, some time in the past.

I bring my attention back out to the world, and I take pride in the amazing accomplishments we humans have made, zipping by, humming deep below, and silently providing comfort in every way.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

How Earthing Balances Immune Response

I love earthing. It calms me down and helps me recover from exercise, infection, and anxiety. Here’s a scientific stance on earthing as it relates to inflammation. Read this great research paper for the nitty gritty.

Our bodies respond to exercise, infection, or injury damage by immune response. The immune response sends oxidative bursts that clear damaged tissue at the site of injury. This makes room for building healthy tissue. Think muscles getting bigger after training. Or you feeling amazing after all the coughing, sneezing, green yellow snot, and fevers from an infection. There’s a breakdown, then a buildup. Same response, different concentrations.

It’s called “oxidative burst” because agents are produced that have reactive oxygen molecules. The molecules have open-ended electrons that react with other molecules that make up the cells in our bodies. A common one made by our immune systems is superoxide. Contact with these molecules is called oxidation, and it leads to cell death. That’s why you don’t want to eat “oxidized fats”. They’re damaged by oxygen in the air, UV, and overcooking. The damaged fat’s free radicals will react with your body if you eat them.

The problem with the oxidative burst cell clearing process is that it affects surrounding healthy tissue. Oxidative bursts are not sniper shots. They are more like shotgun sprays in the general area. So what should have been protection for a tiny cut can become a whole swollen limb, if your immune system is not held in check. You’ll see what I mean in a moment.

Now for the experiment from the research paper. A group of people were subjected to soreness from calf raises. They were divided into earthed and non-earthed groups for the recovery period. Half of the subjects were given earthing mats and patches on their calves, and the other half were given placebo treatment. According to this research, swelling and muscle pain lasted longer for those who were not grounded. The subjects who were grounded experienced quicker resolution of swelling and pain. They also saw quicker white blood cell clearing from the repair areas. The ungrounded subjects had white blood cells lingering much longer.

So what’s the connection? Grounded means Earthed. Earthed means connected by bare skin to the surface of the Earth. The studies conducted regarding tissue inflammation and Earthing used grounding mats (example). These are semi conductive mats or patches that are attached to a person’s skin and plugged into the ground. The electrical connection to the ground brings the person to about the same voltage as the Earth.

That’s because they are connected to the earth’s electron supply. And electrons are antioxidants. Antioxidants diffuse oxidation within tissue. Remember that an oxidized molecule has a free electron, or free radical that makes it harmful. So a free electron from the earth or a donated one from vitamin C can stabilize the oxidant and stop the killing process.

So when you’re hurt, your body sends the immune response. White blood cells go there, and start clearing out dead tissue or killing off pathogens with free radicals like superoxide. The oxidative products from this cause inflammation at and around the injury. If you’re earthed, the balance comes from free electrons from the earth. They quickly subdue the killing, swelling, and pain. It’s nature’s balance.

If you’re making contact with the ground, an unlimited supply of free electrons from the earth are passing into your body. They are stored throughout your tissue and can eventually be used at the site of an injury, to resolve an inflammatory immune response.

If you’re not grounded, you don’t get that influx of electrons. Sure, there are antioxidants from foods and chemicals like bilirubin and vitamin C. But these are limited supplies, especially if we are not feeding ourselves with antioxidant-rich foods. Not only are we not eating enough nutritious foods, we are also eating oxidized fats and keeping the balance tipped toward inflammation.

When earthing, think electrically. Anything that doesn’t conduct electricity between you and the ground blocks that flow of free electrons. Rubber, wood, plastic, floor finish, glass, you name it. Dirt, grass, water, wet sand, and even concrete, with water molecules throughout it’s structure, are conductors and semiconductors that will allow earth’s electrons to flow into you. You don’t need much. Our bodies are hyper sensitive to electricity. The minuscule flow of electrons from the ground is enough to help us.

Without free and mobile electrons from the earth, inflammation lasts longer than it needs to. Swelling gets bigger than necessary. And sometimes, even if the initial hurt subsides, the inflammation never really goes away. Not only are we experiencing inflammation from injury, exercise, and infection, we are also getting it from environmental toxins and the food we eat.

The key is to keep the balance tipped in favor of quick healing and minimal inflammation. Earthing will keep your supply of electrons full and push you toward thriving.

Live powerfully,

Steve

Deep Sleep Dashes Sickness

I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

It had been five days since returning from a three month trip. We were living in a time zone 16 hours ahead of California. I was jet lagged with a runny nose, sore throat, sinus pressure, cough, and body aches. Vitamin C megadosing, sun bathing, and earthing were only scratching the surface. I just wasn’t getting enough sleep.

I don’t know why I didn’t think about it sooner, but yesterday it occurred to me that I should wear ear plugs to bed. Normal neighborhood and house noises, however subtle, were waking me up earlier than I wanted. So I plugged up and covered my eyes from light. I also kept a small fan on to keep the temperature down. The summer heat was adding to this sleep deprivation.

With these simple little hacks, it was cool, dark, and quiet at night.

And damn, but I slept like a log. I woke up like a dragon from it’s thousand year slumber. I swept the blanket aside like it was piles of gold being hurled aside by the dragon’s monstrous, scaly tail. I breathed deep, loving the air as much as the reptilian beast would after such an abysmal sensory absence. Seeing the sunlight filtering through the window, I was the dragon emerging from his cave. I flexed and stretched my fresh limbs, feeling blood surge through my tissues.

The achiness was gone. My nose was no longer runny. The sinus pressure was minimized. There was just the slightest sense of head cold left. I was coughing up green phlegm, which is a good sign for me. Still rusty, but I’m on the downhill side of recovery now.

As I stretched out in the sun, I felt better and better. Sleep, I thought again as I have many times in the past, is such an effective tool for human wellness. A UPenn study showed that flies who slept more recovered and survived longer than their brethren who didn’t sleep as much. Sleep triggered the gene pathway NFkB in flies.

NFkB regulates immune response, in addition to DNA transcription and cell survival. Other studies showed that problems with this gene activation were linked to cancer, inflammation and autoimmune disease, and uncontrolled infection.

Sleep, then, as the trigger for this gene expression, has a lot to do with recovery from illness.

Once again, I can attest to this. One night of good sleep dashed away the effects of jet lag, body aches, and misery. I’m betting that one more night will do away with the rest of this pesky cold. Of course, I’m going to keep up the vitamin C dosage, sun time, and everything else.

One hint to getting good sleep if you just can’t: try staying up instead of napping. A bit of sleep deprivation can help with prolonging sleep later and increasing stimulation of NFkB, as the fly researchers found.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

What We’re Doing

Brilliant Friends,

I just wanted you to know, last Saturday I wrote my 100th newsletter to you. When I started these letters, I wanted it to be a way to teach powerlifting and strength training in a simple way. I wanted to share with you how I got strong and mobile. And I wanted to share secrets about nutrition that shouldn’t be hidden. But my newsletter turned into something else.

It became more, because to be honest with myself, I had to write about the other things I’ve been exploring. More than strength, I was looking into mind cultivation. I wanted to become more deeply in sync with myself. I wanted to control my negative emotions, and downward spiral thinking. I was stressed out at work, I worked harder, and I tried to make things better by fixing things.

But I realized I had to stop and dig down within myself. I needed to recover on a daily basis. I needed to heal my mind. This led to meditation and heart rate variability (HRV) practices. I learn from Pema Chodron and Tara Brach.

Much of my exploration into meditating happened at a park near my home. I loved being outside on the grass, with trees all around, and birds singing from those trees. The sun gave me a kind of energy I had forgotten about since childhood. I had already known about earthing, but spending time regularly outside, barefoot, etched the benefits in stone for me.

My goal is to make known some of the basic things about human well-being that, as a race, we’ve forgotten. I want to reconnect us to the earth and bring us into a real understanding of our relationship to this planet and the universe. In addition to spending time outside barefoot, I believe earthing mats are part of the answer.

We’ve let our bodies become twisted and gnarled in pain, immobility, and incapability through sitting. Sitting in classroom and office chairs, sitting in cars, sitting on couches. That’s not how our bodies are designed to exist. I see Kelly Starrett as one of the leaders of the physiological revolution.

Food was engineered and production amplified to feed the exponentially growing population of the world. And it worked. And now we need to get the quality of food back. We just are not getting nutrients that we need. We aren’t eating the right stuff. We need to look for the good stuff. We need tons more green leafy veggies and fat and meat from animals that are raised right. We need food that is free of herbicides, pesticides, and antibiotics. There are countless leaders bringing us solutions today. Look at Terry Wahls, William Davis, Mark Sisson, and Dr. Mercola.

Life is great, and keeps getting better in many ways. But these are some fundamental things that we’ve left behind in the search for higher answers.

The more we try and the more we explore, the more we’ll be what we were meant to be. I believe we’re inclined to be good when we’re well nourished, rested, and finely tuned in every way. We’ve restricted ourselves as a race to reach specific goals. Now that humans have reached those goals, it’s time to take care of ourselves again. There’s a lot to reverse. Just take a look at epigenetics to see that the lives of our ancestors are written into us.

What I find I share with you, and it gives me satisfaction to write to you. You’ve intentionally signed up for my newsletter. You search, dig, read, and act to make life good. If my letter resonates with someone else you know, please forward it. You never know how far they may go with it. There’s a lot to work on with ourselves, but you’ll find that the more you tell people about things, the better you understand them.

So connect with the ground, eat well, get strong and get mobile, and cultivate your mind. When you find what is good within you, let it thrive. Simply doing good is the easiest way to share it with the world.

Thanks for being with me.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily