Perfectly ImperfectJun 10, 2020
What does it mean to live a “perfectly imperfect” life? To quote the Tao, “all can see beauty as beauty, only because there is ugliness.” Life is not an "either-or" condition, but a series of "ands." We are beautiful AND may need lose a few pounds. We feel like we are struggling AND we are also exactly where we are supposed to be in our journey. Author and nutritionist Kimberly Snyder is here to help you better understand, through mindset, diet, and self-care rituals, how to create harmony in body and soul.
Jeff VO: Welcome to Commune, where each week we explore the ideas and practices that bring us together and help us live healthy, purpose filled lives. I’m your host, Jeff Krasno.
What does it mean to live a “perfectly imperfect” life? To a lot of us, it can sound like an oxymoron. How can two opposites both be true? But, as we sometimes say of our friends, family or lovers — opposites attract. That the energy of life, much like magnets, require opposing poles to be brought together.
In Taoism, the ups and downs, the positives and negatives of life are represented by the yin and yang; that even though there may be darkness, there will also be light. Even though life can be difficult or traumatic, it is also overwhelmingly beautiful.
So how do we find this balance?
Kimberly Snyder is a New York Times best-selling author, and founder of Solluna and the #FeelGoodMovement. Her personal journey of nutrition, psychology, and philosophy has lead her to embrace the perfect imperfection of life and cultivate practical methods to fully inhabit the body. Through food choices and wellness practices she offers ways for us to reduce inflammation and build balanced daily routines.
All of us face down days when we feel out of harmony with ourselves, but when we give ourselves the grace – and space – to heal as we are, we are actively creating harmony through that disharmony. It’s the knowledge that mistakes aren’t just okay, they’re necessary.
I’m your host Jeff Krasno...and welcome to Commune.
Kim Snyder: Jeff, it's so amazing to be sitting here. We've been talking about this podcast for months, so this is a little bit surreal.
Jeff: It's a dream come true.
Kim Snyder: It is a dream. Who am I? I'm a unlimited being, just like you-
Jeff: [crosstalk 00:00:19]-
Kim Snyder: ... pure light, formless, but we're here having an embodied experience. So, I'm here. I work with people on feeling better in their bodies, getting back into their bodies, which is ironic because I wasn't in my body for a long time until recently. I work with people on their food, on their lifestyle, on meditation, actually being here now. People would call me a nutritionist. They call me an author, but it's really about, for me, helping people reconnect and feel good within themselves.
Jeff: I've been waiting ... This is, I think, my 52nd interview-
Kim Snyder: Wow.
Jeff: So, that's like a year, right? And I've been waiting for that answer. Everybody always says kind of recites their résumé to me as if that is who they are.
Kim Snyder: Right. But things changed for me pretty drastically about two years ago when I had a series of life events that came up out of nowhere. My mom passed away really suddenly. I've actually never talked about this publicly, but a few months later, I ended up leaving my partner, my son's father, so I was just kind of floating around and I feel like all these labels, everything dissolved in my life. I hit rock bottom. And so this new book that I wrote was going to be a children's nutrition book. It ended up being a healing book. So, now when people ask me about who I am, it's gotten a lot simpler. It's gotten past all that stuff because now I think a lot of that stuff is things we cling to and I could see the bullshit of the image I used to really cling to and a lot of that's gone away.
Jeff: Yeah. On your book and this notion of Perfectly Imperfect, that's a tricky one for modern society because as you point out very articulately, we live in a sort of either or-
Kim Snyder: Right.
Jeff: ... black and white kind of reality, but you kind of tear that down.
Kim Snyder: I'm actually a recovering perfectionist. I had eating disorders. I was bulimarexic. I was obsessed with being thin. I was obsessed with having perfect grades. And now this is my fifth book. This is the first time I even talk about having eating disorders. This is the first ... My other books, I was on the cover in this perfect pose and a tight dress. I'm slouched on the porch just being myself and I think when you hit rock bottom, we all have life events that change the course of our existence, I think, going forward. For me, losing my mom within three days of my son turning one, so I think that this whole idea of Perfectly Imperfect, we all know our imperfections ...
We don't have to sit here and list them all. Everybody wants to lose 10 pounds. Everybody wants to have better skin. They want to look great on their Instagram feed. But that's still just the outside stuff, so when we connect with the part of us that's constant, that's permanent, the perfection inside, we don't take the outside as seriously. So, it's really this and existence. I'm perfect and I'm imperfect. I'm a good mom and sometimes I need more time to myself. I'm healthy and sometimes I'm going to have benders and drink a bunch of margaritas with my friends.
Jeff: Oh, call me when you do that.
Kim Snyder: You'll be on my list.
Jeff: It's funny because for interviewing you, I actually pulled a quote from the Tao just by happenstance.
Kim Snyder: Wonderful.
Jeff: So, I'll read it just because I have it. "Under heaven all can see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness. All can know good as good only because there is evil." That's the second verse of the Tao and so these concepts of being beautiful or being perfect or being smart, they only exist within that duality of their opposite. And the reality is that we are both things.
Kim Snyder: That's right.
Jeff: I am magnanimous and compassionate and empathetic as much as I can be when I am living from my highest self, but I can also with the awareness that I am often resentful. I am sometimes jealous. I sometimes plot very complicated, vengeful schemes, but this is another podcast. And I do my best to live with that awareness that that is my little self, and that is the duality of the human condition, and all we can hope to do is to cultivate the practices and the wisdom to live from our highest self as much as we can.
Kim Snyder: That's right. So, the way I understand it now ... I just read the commentary on the Tao by Alan Watts. I'm obsessed with all these different commentaries, and he was the one that made the distinction between duality and dualism. So, duality is like the ego, I'm either going to identify with my small self and all my thoughts or I'm going to expand into this higher part of me whereas dualism, as we were talking about, is that we're all things, the light and the dark. But for me, I started going really into the shadow, into the darkness when all this personal stuff happened for me, and I realized I had never really done shadow work. I didn't really want to say out loud, "Oh, I'm actually not perfect and I eat a bunch-
Kim Snyder: People think I'm this perfect eater and I'm not and it's really stressful to live according to this image that we're trying to put out. So, it almost feels like me just relaxing my shoulders and saying, "Our power is in our holism." And we talk a lot about whole foods and the power of the synergy and the cofactors and all the intrinsic factors, everything within the food itself. There's like 2,000 different compounds within an apple, yet that same holism when we take ourselves and we approach ourselves in that whole, holistic, the depth, I say moving from deeper water, that's when we shine. That's when we connect. That's when we're really beautiful. That's when we're really creative because we're not just sticking to this small little stressful image of ourself, and it's amazing.
So, this whole idea of holism, our whole self, paying attention to our emotions, paying attention to our holism is such a huge part of wellness and it's ironic for me to say that five books later. My first two books were very food-focused, but I think that's just the beginning part for a lot of us.
Jeff: Yeah. Let's talk about inflammation for a second-
Jeff: So, inflammation, because this is a topic that sort of what I call Time magazine cover level.
Kim Snyder: Yes. Everybody's talking about.
Jeff: In fact, I think there was something. But there's still tremendous confusion about actually what it is.
Kim Snyder: Tremendous ...
Jeff: So, if you can start from 101. What is inflammation?
Kim Snyder: And so the way I look at it now in my work and the way I think we all need to talk about it is really in a much more holistic, encompassing way with all those cornerstones because there's people out there talking about inflammation with diet. I get sent these inflammation diet books all the time. Or it's this one part, just meditate, but if we're not ... Emotions is such a big thing because I think most all of us are taught to suppress and repress and it goes down into ourselves. It's a huge part of the reason most people's digestion is completely screwed up, and it's a huge reason that inflammation is a big problem, I think.
Jeff: And generally, inflammation can also be a good thing. When I sprained my ankle or if I have an infection, then it is a positive body response in some cases, but the problem now is that many of us are living with chronic inflammation. And that, I think, for them understanding from what you're saying is that that can be caused
Jeff: ... through a whole variety of different means, and you have to approach it in a very holistic way: part of it is diet, part of it is psychological, mental, emotional-
Kim Snyder: Practices-
Kim Snyder: ... how you set up your day. So there's a word in Sanskrit called dinacharya, which is our daily rhythm and our daily routines. The name of my brand is Soluna, which is the sun and the moon: it's a very shamonic way of looking at things. It's a very shamonic way of looking at things.
Jeff: Well, and perfectly imperfect-
Kim Snyder: Exactly. This and this.
Jeff: ... in duality and all that stuff.
Kim Snyder: But it's the idea of sacred rhythms: we see the sun comes and then the sun sets and the moon comes. We see rhythms everywhere in nature and particularly in our body, our sympathetic and our parasympathetic nervous system. So, when any sort of rhythm gets off balance, to your point, that's where we get that chronic low-grade inflammation. It's like having the brakes on all the time, and so we need to look at the whole rhythm of our day. It can't just be, "Oh, you know, let me try to eat healthier food." It's, am I regulating my meal times? That will help regulate our sleep cycle. Am I meditating regularly? Am I finding ways to process my emotions? These rhythms are disrupted in most people.
So until we get back to a natural rhythm, the light and dark, going into that shadow work, actually looking at the things that hurt us. Who is it? Michael Singer talks about it in The Untethered Soul?
Kim Snyder: In a general sense I think this restoration of rhythms. The thing about that most people don't have enough energy during the day. So they drink coffee, and then they can't fall asleep at night. So then they take anti-anxiety and sleep meds. So, we're constantly out of rhythm. Our bodies constantly going to be inflamed to some extent.
Jeff: That we're doing all of these things, we're mindful of all of these things, whether they're meditative practices, diet, and physical practices body and spiritual work, all in service of being able to self actualize on some level.
Jeff: Yeah. I thought about it, "Okay, well, we're just having to check a lot of boxes and deal with all of our inadequacies and or deficiencies but not in really any service of any one particular thing.
Kim Snyder: So imagine when you have that one big thing Jeff, it's like you're anchored in. To me it feels like, "Ah," there's a great peace in that. Because it means everything that we're working towards, we're not just flitting around wasting time: we are working towards that goal.
Kim Snyder: I think that the biggest problem that I see, one of the problems is this reductionist approach. We talk about holism, we talk about whole foods, we talk about the whole person, but think how much we chop things up into little categories. For instance, even with food, people are confused because they're like, "Should I be eating more fat? Am I getting too much protein? Or, Is it the sugar?" It's all these numbers. And same thing when we look at our lifestyle. Like you were saying, "Well, I'm going to do this yoga treat once in a while, or I'm going to meditate here. Or I'm going to eat my healthy breakfast." It's all these little pieces, and you know what? It's really stressful to juggle a lot of little fricking pieces versus just... So in my philosophy one of the big things is getting away from numbers because I think numbers are very finite and it's the opposite of the tao of going into the space and expanding.
So I think we've lost our way because we focus on these little quantitative measurements which don't give us the picture. If you don't know what you're eating and you're sticking to some really strict diet and you're eating according to an app or a chart, there's just an easier way to do it based on how we feel, based on connecting with your body.
And when we focus back on this holism, the rhythms, the iron thing is that when you meditate, when you really get your lifestyle under control, there's a different quality to your skin, there's a different quality to your magnetism, there's a way you show up, there's something in your eyes. You really embody beauty.
Same thing with inflammation health: all these different topics, it's a bigger concept.
Jeff: It's also seems like modern life makes it so easy for us to be really screwed up. We've lived for tens of thousands of years without chemicals, in our food, on our skin. Now it's almost like... Do you feel like we're in this... For man, for humanity, we're at this inflection point. If we don't change consciousness now, essentially we're doomed.
Kim Snyder: There's a lot of things I could say about that. Our mutual dear friend, my co-author on another book, Deepak Chopra, says, I'm paraphrasing here, he says something like, "You will not stay in a situation for long that is unnatural to you." I think that the way a lot of us live is really unnatural, and I read a survey recently that said something like 66% of people are interested in taking a social media detox.
I think we're getting to the point where there's so much, our nervous systems, all this... people can't handle it anymore. And the problem is with all this noise, we talked about the perfect inside: the stillness, the space, the expansive... whatever you want to say, the soul, and then all this stuff on the outside, is noise. All this stuff on the outside is going to reinforce your imperfections. If you're so caught up on this, you're never going to feel happy. And people are not happier with all the noise, with all the wellness trends. People are actually more confused like we said, there's more anxiety, there's more insomnia.
It's a real conscious choice. The morning routine I teach, stillness in meditation is as fundamental as drinking hot water with lemon and taking SPO probiotics. If we don't take back some of that attention and turn it inward, Yogananda says turn the search lights inward, I think unhappiness and inflammation and accelerated aging, and all this stuff is going to continue to exacerbate and accelerate. I like to take a positive approach, I think people are waking up more and more. I see it. I think you see it too Jeff. And people are interested in more of this: people are responding.
Jeff: But let's talk specifically about community and connection, because-
Kim Snyder: It's everything.
Kim Snyder: It's back to our 'and' word: it's you and me. Not you or me. There's a term scientists have coined now for Instagram specifically called compare and despair. And it's a physiological condition that they're finding. It's a very unhealthy psychology or psychotic reaction to comparing what you see. Comparison, very quickly leads to contrasting: here's my life, here's their life. And that very quickly leads to competition. That's the 'or': you or me; I'm better or you're prettier. Or you're skinnier. Community is 'and': you and me together, and the dualism, not duality: like you're going to win or I'm going to win, it goes back to these little words. It's the 'and'. And the community, when you take the and out, it takes out... I can feel it in my shoulders. You can feel the, like you say, the lightness, the oneness, the peace that comes from being part of something that's so much bigger than us: that is wellness, that's beauty. That's real beauty.
Jeff: I'm always shying away from hacks, but is there a prescription for building connection, for achieving that sense of community in the modern world where often times we are resorting to social media to have a sense of community and connection, but that sometimes can feel false. Are there prescriptive-
Kim Snyder: Yes.
Jeff: ... things one can do?
Kim Snyder: Yes. So, I don't think it's bad to be on Instagram or to watch TV or to be on social media, if you're rooted within yourself first. So back to the Soluna philosophy with the cornerstones, I'll give a couple of prescriptive tips for each one maybe.
Food is the starting place in the healing journey and the wellness journey for a lot of us: it was for me. Unless I got this under control, I'm not going to worry about my meditation as much because I'm bloated all the time, and I don't feel good. Food can really support connection, because that bio-energetics of the food you're putting in do affect your moods, they do affect your energy.
Two foods I want to call out. Number one is ginger. Ginger is very simple, very easy to find, very inexpensive. It has a physical feeling when you have a strong ginger tea of warming up your system. Ayurvedic says it opens up the 12 srotas, the 12 pathways. It's increasing your metabolism and your circulation. It's actually putting you in your body. When we're in our bodies we're less in our heads. We're less over analyzing, over worrying, over intellectualizing. And when we're in our bodies, because we're having an embodied experience, we're on the same plane together: if I can drop down here I'm going to have an easier time connecting with you because it means I'm here, I'm not up somewhere. Just ginger is a really warming wonderful food. I give it to clients and readers all the time. I recommend it just as a simple way to come back.
Another way to come back here is root vegetables. Because again, every food has an energetic quality to it. And this copha food, this very mineral dense food grown in the earth is going to bring you here.
Kim Snyder: Body-wise, body is the second pillar, which is everything, skin care, exercise. One of the biggest things we can work with is our skin. To connect with other people, we need to be here in the now. Our skin is our largest organ. It's completely vasculated. When we're working with the skin, we're working with our nervous system, our endocrine system, our immune system. Ayurveda says that the skin will help bring down the Vata. It will bring us here and now. So I say every day at the end of the day, just give yourself a two-minute oil massage and touch your skin and soothe your nervous system and start to feel more in your body.
Kim Snyder: Okay, so emotionally, I think a lot of people start to feel disconnected because they project out. We have so many wounds. We all have trauma. We all have stuff that happened in our childhood, past lives, if you want to even go there. So sometimes we get disconnected because people trigger us and they bring up things, and we say, "Oh, I don't like that person. I don't want to be around them." Versus, here's the paradigm shift, everybody's a mirror. Right? Everybody's just bringing up. If they bother us, it's because there's some wound inside of us. So the emotional hack or tip is when something bothers you to sit with it and let yourself really feel it. Don't distract yourself. Don't go on YouTube. Don't get another beer. Don't go gossip about that person. Let yourself feel it. This is what Dr. Hawkins talks about. He says about 10 minutes is what it takes for a really intense feeling to cycle through you, and when it does, you're helping to heal that wound. Let yourself sit in about for 10 minutes and then spiritually, the other cornerstone, if you want to connect with others, you have to connect with yourself, so all the different meditations out there, stillness, pranayama, breathing. Breath work is amazing for getting into your lungs, getting into your body. These are all some ways to connect more.
Jeff: Yeah. No, I think that's really helpful. Even if I kind of superimpose that quadrant on my own life, I can see that there are areas that feel very easy for me.
Kim Snyder: Like which ones?
Jeff: Like my connective abilities and my emotional abilities are, I feel, developed and strong.
Kim Snyder: That's great.
Jeff: Even to the point where I actually worry about myself, which is ironic. But like Maslow said, one of the flaws of self-actualized people are they get over death as if it didn't even happen, because they have a innate sense that nothing real ever dies.
Kim Snyder: Right.
Jeff: Sometimes I'm worried about my own equanimity with things where I'm very even and I don't go through these very big highs and lows, without medication.
Kim Snyder: Do you feel like you've done the work, you've transcended it, or do you feel like it's avoidance or there's numbing?
Jeff: That's a very good question. At one point, I did feel that there was numbing because it was a way that I essentially dealt with trauma of a kid. I had, like everybody, plenty of trauma, and that I turned an emotional valve off too as a protective function for myself. Certainly as I've looked into my own life, I've thought about that as a possibility. More and more now, I do feel as I've become more aware of my ego and I can really most of the time catch myself very quickly when I'm living from that place, I've almost trained myself to be like, "Oh, you're over there again."
Kim Snyder: That's amazing.
Jeff: "You're this little guy."
Kim Snyder: That's not easy to do.
Jeff: When I make a mistake, I can generally acknowledge it and apologize quickly. I can see the flaws in other people and forgive them for them. That's something that's taken a lot of work. I don't honestly pretend to be very virtuous. That work was in some ways forced on me through trauma and through having to work through it.
Kim Snyder: But you could've gone the other way. You opened up instead of closed up.
Jeff: Yeah, I could have, and there were plenty of times that I plotted that path too. But now I catch myself very quickly and you're like, "Okay, that's your little self and you should be ashamed to go to God's door."
Kim Snyder: Oh, no.
Jeff: But anyways, with him around. But there's other places where I struggle. I know that I had been dealing ... but of course I haven't realized it until recently that I have some form of leaky gut that I've been living with for a really long time and that I've been in phases of hyper-inflammation that have then had all sorts of effects on me, like I had a hip replacement at 41.
Jeff: I have nausea. I've had periods of chronic nausea. That's the area where I probably really need to focus my discipline. In a way, it's like I've started to conflate discipline with being a disciple, but being a disciple to my own eternal wisdom.
Kim Snyder: I could say for myself, imagine I've been talking about them and writing about this for so long, I can honestly say I haven't been in my body until very recently. I think most people are up. That's where the confusion comes from. I'm going to eat according to this app. I'm going to read everything I can about paleo. I'm going to figure out how to put my body in ketosis. I'm going to do 12 spin classes a week. It's all up here. Hence the rise of wellness, the rise also of anxiety and insomnia. It's an epidemic, right? This part about being in our bodies, it's so essential and it's so widespread, this disconnection with our bodies that that to me and the emotional part, because a lot of people are interested in meditation. People are interested in food, but I think this embodiment and the emotional wellness are the two big cornerstones I see in balance in a lot of people.
Jeff: Yeah. On the meditation front, because I think that's another Time magazine cover trend or whatever right now, a lot of people I think the biggest stumbling block for meditation is I'm really bad at it. I'm not saying me, I'm just saying people-
Kim Snyder: Yeah, of course. I'm not good at it. That's what they say about yoga too. I'm not flexible.
Jeff: Yeah. I'm not good at it, which is of course somewhat the point. But what would you tell people just to kind of get over that initial hump of, "Oh, my mind. Every time I try to sit here and I try to meditate, my mind's just not, it's all over the place. I can't even count to 10."
Kim Snyder: I think that's how we all start. I remember I would put my alarm on. I was like, "I'm going to meditate for 30 minutes," like Yogananda says. I would put on the alarm, and I would feel like, "Oh, my gosh. I must be done. This is torture." I would look and it would be like seven minutes. I feel like in the beginning we all think we're wasting time, we all think we're not doing it, but it's a practice. The more you sit and you keep trying, it does get better and better. The other thing I want to say is that's the reason I see emotions as very different than meditation. You can sit and you can have a wonderful meditation, but if you step off your meditation pillow and your emotions are imbalanced, you can go into anger very quickly. You can go into comparison mode, so you've squandered any benefit from meditation, right? To me, balancing your emotions is a way to make you a "better, more effective meditator."
Jeff: What is your mission now, having studied and written but also experienced these inflection points of deep trauma that have also likely been your greatest teacher?
Kim Snyder: To me, there's been such a huge, huge, huge paradigm shift where it's about that community, it's about connection. My mantra now is teaching people nourish your whole self and feel good. That's my whole purpose. If you break that down, what does it mean to feel good? First of all, feeling instead of thinking. Feeling. Getting back to un-numbing, un-distracting ourselves, actually feeling when we're hungry, feeling our feelings, feeling close to other people. It feels good to be connected. It feels like shit if we're up in our head all the time or we're anxious or we're confused, so it's teaching people they have the inner guru. They have the inner wisdom. We need to drop in, create this lifestyle, but actually feel good.
Then the first part, nourishing your whole self, this is me. When I was a chronic dieter, Jeff, and I wrote my first book, the dedication was "To the freedom of women everywhere." You don't have to diet like this. You don't have to obsess. There's a way to optimize your energy and digestion and your food combining and all this stuff, and it can be easier. Right? Now I want to shout from the rooftops, "Hey, it's not just about food." It's your whole self. It's all the stuff we're talking about with the emotions. That is a huge impact on your bloating and your inflammation. So my mission now is teaching people to nourish the wholeness and feel good from that. I'm working on it myself. I'm a work in progress. I'm messy and imperfect and I mess up and I screw up all the time, but I've become aware of certain tools and the paradigm that I really want to teach, and that is my life work. It's what I'm really passionate about. I love connecting with people. I love women. I love all my circles I do and everything, so that's what really lights me up.
Jeff: Obviously we have a wonderful connection and I admire you tremendously for many, many reasons. But I'll tell you one of the reasons that I love you so much is that when you come and visit me here in Topanga, which is often, and I don't have to twist your arm and I'm-
Kim Snyder: I'm here all the time.
Jeff: And I'm grateful for that. You're always optimistic and extroverted and connected and you're talking to people and you're sharing your wealth of knowledge, and you're just having a good time. But I will also say, every time that you walk in, you're always carrying your son. Every time. It's very, very sweet, and it's very affectionate and warm, and I love that.
Kim Snyder: Thank you, Jeff.
Kim Snyder: That's so sweet. Being a mother, losing my mother, becoming a single mother all kind of happened in this little period, part of the divine feminine experience. Whew. Like I said, sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to go up.
Jeff: On the scale of imperfect to perfect, I think you're pretty close to perfect.
Kim Snyder: Oh, my God. Thank you so much. I love you so much.
Jeff: I love you too.
Kim Snyder: I'm so grateful for you.
Jeff: Thank you. God bless you.
Jeff VO: Maybe you feel like you’ve been a little out of balance lately. It could be in your eating habits, in how you spend your time, or in how you approach work and family. Rather than beat yourself up or run from one extreme to another, let’s have permission to rest and reflect. Often we will see the seeds of growth in what ails us.
To learn more about Kimberly, Solluna, or to check out any of her latest book, Perfectly Imperfect, visit her site at mysolluna.com.
People like Kimberly are here to help you rebalance the scales of your life, to balance the yin to your emotional yang. Or vice versa. Because life is not about favoring only fortune or failure, but seeking harmony by understanding that yes, we all do make mistakes. And it’s okay. If you didn’t you wouldn’t be human. And without all your perfect imperfections, there would be no such thing as spiritual growth...
You are perfect just the way you are. Scrapes, bruises, gut health and all. It might be time to start believing it.
Thanks for joining us this week on the Commune podcast. We hope you enter the rest of your day feeling more in tune with yourself. I’m Jeff Krasno. We’ll see you next time.
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