Commusings: The Price Is Right by Jeff KrasnoOct 29, 2022
Hello Commune Community,
Schuyler and I are in the midst of co-leading our first retreat – 35 years in gestation. When we were seventeen, we naively got matching yin yang tattoos. The yang represents the sunny side of the mountain, the yin is the shady slope. Yet, there is some canopy on the sunlit grade, and there are rays of light that dapple the shadows. Relationship is finding a sensitive order – to be on the teeter-totter where neither of us is quite touching the ground. It’s a thrill to bring our asymmetrical balance to willing souls here in Topanga.
To be in the company of brilliant people from all over the world – brought together by a desire to heal – is just a great honor and delight. Time for yoga.
Here and not at [email protected] and exhorting regularly on IG @jeffkrasno.
In love, include me,
• • •
The Price Is Right
When I was a kid, I had a guilty pleasure. On summer mornings, I would nestle into the old mildewed couch on the porch with a bowl of Cheerios and watch The Price Is Right. Bob Barker, the consummate MC, wielding his absurdly long, skinny microphone, shepherded us along the hero’s journey toward the show’s inevitable climax. The final curtain always concealed the same treasure. There was no real suspense to the reveal but, still, there was a pulse of adrenaline coursing through my veins as Barker, feeling the pregnancy of the moment, paused and slowly lifted the mic toward his lips. And then, with great pomp and circumstance, he swung his arm as if hitting a one-handed golf shot and unveiled the most cherished monument of Western culture: a brand, new car! (Cue the music!)
The shiny red Cadillac has long played a leading role in the dramedy known as The American Dream. I was inculcated into this national mythology at a young age. As a 10-year old boy, a trip to the car dealership was second only to Disney World. Of course, the idea that I require 6,000 pounds of steel to move my 145-pound frame is patently absurd. We fill the tank to move the machine, not to move our flesh. But – oh the smell of it! I pressed my nose to the delicious vinyl seats. Heaven must consist of a seraphim playing Satie on lutes, eternally available bagels, cream cheese and lox, and the redolence of volatile organic compounds off-gassing.
An analysis of the air from a new Lincoln Continental found more than 50 caustic compounds emanating from the paint, leather and vinyl treatments, latex glue and carpeting, not to mention the carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter spewing from the tailpipe.
Automobiles are not the only provenance of toxins. And, here, I give you the bad news first. Sorry, it's a unilateral decision, but, stick with me, the sun is shining on the other side of the hill.
Toxins are ubiquitous. Turn on the spigot and you’ll find microplastics, pesticide run-off, drug residue and heavy metals spiking your water. Your cosmetics and other “health and beauty” aids are bursting with parabens, phthalates, arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury and nickel.
Many pharmaceutical drugs (and supplements!) are teeming with excipients — chemicals there for the sole purpose of delivering or preserving the active ingredients. Our food is crammed full of refined and processed sugars, preservatives, antibiotics and herbicide residues such as glyphosate.
Cheap furniture, mattresses, carpets, flooring, paint, detergents and fabric softeners (and thus by extension your clothes!), household cleaners, air “fresheners.” They all contain toxins.
Then there’s the run-of-the-mill alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.
And this is to say nothing of toxic thoughts being broadcast 24/7 right in the palm of your hand on social media platforms and cable news channels.
I could go on, but why? You get it. At this juncture, you could live on a deserted island and eat regeneratively grown kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner and still not escape the pall of toxicity.
You might wonder what physiological knock-on impacts result from this deluge of poisons.
Where to start? For one, they weaken your immune system by over-stimulating it. Alcohol, sugar, and herbicides like glyphosate along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nSaids) and proton pump Inhibitors (PPIs) disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut. Further, they break down the tight junctions of the epithelium in your colon that normally would prevent toxins from flowing into our bloodstream. When you have intestinal permeability (leaky gut), bacterial toxins such as lipopolysaccharides invade the bloodstream. The immune system subsequently springs into action sending leukocytes (white blood cells) to the perceived threat. This cycle creates the chronic inflammation that underwrites all sorts of chronic conditions like atherosclerosis, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.
We know that heavy metals can shut off tumor suppressor genes, which leads to the unfettered proliferation of cancer cells. Heavy metals can also contribute to dementia and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's. Then you have the more prosaic day-to-day maladies like chronic fatigue, bowel disorders, constipation, and sleep disruption that often fester upstream and contribute to progressive development of serious illness.
The Sanskrit work ama translates literally to unripe or undigested. In Ayurvedic medicine, the term means toxic load or unmetabolized waste. When too much ama is accumulated in the body, our metabolic efficiency is compromised and we begin to develop the aforementioned chronic conditions.
Here’s your reward for making it this far. The good news is that we pee, poop and sweat. Between urination, defecation and perspiration, we also experience thoughts (and if we’re lucky a shag or two ;-). That’s basically life in a nutshell. These processes are the body’s natural adaptive mechanisms for detoxifying.
However, if you're carrying too much ama the ability to naturally detoxify begins to erode. Consider a river. When it is slightly contaminated it can clean itself. But once it becomes heavily polluted, there needs to be invasive action. You are a system not unlike a river.
More good news: You can adopt specific protocols to enhance your body’s natural detoxification intelligence. Here I share with you numerous ways to upregulate your detox systems like your lymphatic system, your liver, your kidneys and your skin. I delve deep into this topic in a recent podcast with the brilliant Dr. Alejandro Junger, who has written extensively on detoxification.
Your lymphatic system moves toxins out of cells, into your bloodstream and then through your liver. Kupffer cells are the resident liver macrophages that detect foreign agents like toxins and “eat” them in a process called phagocytosis.
So, you want to protect your liver. One way to ensure healthy liver function is to adopt a low glycemic diet so you're not building excess liver fat. You don't want to consume too many calories, especially the wrong kind of calories — for example, from an overabundance of sugars or saturated fats. I generally recommend a plant-focused ketogenic approach.
You want to engage in regular exercise to the point of sweating because perspiration is one of the primary ways the body expels toxins. Sauna is another excellent practice that induces sweat and, in combination with cold water therapy, upregulates your circulatory system by dilating and contracting blood vessels. You might also consider skin brushing with a loofah brush as a means to speed the process of removing dead cells that block pores.
Toxins are lipophilic. They “love fat” and embed themselves in our adipocytes (and in our mucosa). Sometimes, when we lose weight and burn fat for energy, we feel crummy due to the release of toxins from our fat cells. So, stay hydrated! And pee!
Lymphatic massage accelerates the circulation of the lymph, the liquid that carries toxins to the liver and kidneys.
Meditation, rest and good sleep contribute to detoxification in myriad ways. Meditation can lower cortisol levels and, by extension, blood sugar levels. Sleep activates your glymphatic system, which eliminates soluble proteins and metabolites from your brain — including beta-amyloid proteins that are often associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Toxins are everywhere. But we have tremendous agency to leverage our adaptive mechanisms of detoxification. To feel clean, we simply need to understand nature’s intelligence and flow with its current.
My last tip: Buy a used electric or hybrid car. It’s more sustainable, there’s no off-gassing and, generally, The Price is Right.
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