In the first installment of her new column, Ysanne Spevack shares a creamy faux Cappuccino recipe for you to sample some dreamy velvet beans vibes…
Like Jack’s magic beans in the fairytale, velvet beans (Mucuna pruriens in Latin) truly deliver. They’re one of the strongest herbal ingredients I use, and a favorite for total vibe-change. Pods that grow on trees in India, and used as an Ayurvedic medicine, they’ve been tried and tested over millennia, and are now available as an extract in the US, sold as a brown powder that’s water-soluble.
The main active compounds in velvet bean extract fall into two groups: antioxidants, and amino acids, of which the main one is L-dopa, and another is called trypatmine, for obvious reasons. Together, these phytochemicals work synergistically for neural health, and specifically relieve stress and melt our sense of boundaries. Perfect for Pisces season—the archetypal symbol of ego loss and dreams. There’s some research that links velvet beans to sexual health too, but that’s likely to be a result of their relaxing effect.
L-dopa is a precursor to dopamine, norepinephrine and adrenaline, which means it has a profound psychoactive effect. You can feel it working, stimulating a sense of dreamy deliciousness and allowing you a peak behind the veil of consciousness. If you’ve ever wanted to feel the grandeur of the Universe while you melt into your pillow, velvet bean extract is the high vibe ingredient for you. I recommend using it sparingly—a little goes a long way. Also if you’re feeling unstable, or if you’re pregnant, it’s best if you pass on this for now, as with anything psychoactive.
Here’s my recipe for a delicious hot ‘faux cappuccino’ that won’t buzz you like caffeine, and will guide you to feel a subtle oneness with the cosmos. It’s not a bedtime drink— the velvet bean stimulates adrenaline production. But it’s a fantastic way to space out with some music on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and swim in cosmic waters of the Milky Way…
The drink is comfortingly sweet, while the bitterness of the velvet bean and umami of the reishi are similar to coffee, hence the name. Nettles soothe the nerves, and keeps the velvet bean from being jarring while it takes you up a notch.
Imbibe to enjoy about a one hour of day-dreams, in a suitably Piscean way…
Pisces Velvet Bean Cappuccino Recipe by The Conscious Cook
Makes one serving
1 coffee mug filled with boiling water 1 nettle tea bag *1/8 tsp velvet bean extract *1 tsp powdered reishi mushroom *1 tsp tocotrienols 1 tsp raw unfiltered honey 1 tbs raw coconut oil
* Denotes ingredients that are available online at Highvibe.com
Infuse the nettle tea bag in the boiling hot water in a large mug by pouring the hot water onto the tea bag as soon as it’s boiled.
Cover the mug with a saucer or plate, and set aside to infuse for 5 minutes.
Measure the other ingredients into a high-speed blender.
Remove the cover and tea bag, and add the nettle tea to the blender.
Blend on low, bringing the speed up to high, and then switching the blender to the maximum setting.
Blend on high for about 30 seconds, to create froth.
Pour into a large mug, spooning the creamy froth out with a spatula.
Hold the cup with both hands as you take sips, and finish it with a teaspoon to enjoy all of the frothy, creamy goodness.
Finally, relax and allow your dreams to unfold as you swim into the universal cosmos.
A few years ago, I was flipping through a celebrity magazine, and on one of the pages, they’d asked different celebs what their guilty pleasures were. Most gave the typical answers like wine, chocolate, or online shopping, but one person, I wish I remembered who, wrote: “I don’t have any because I never feel guilty about my pleasures.”
The perfection of this caught me off guard, and it had such an impact on me. I’ve actually seen it quoted by a few different people since then, but the origin isn’t important. What’s important is how profound and amazing a concept this is.
Living things are hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Obviously, right? It’s a survival mechanism, but also, what would be the point of living if it weren’t for pleasure? Somewhere along the way (many would blame organized religion, but that’s a whole other topic), the idea arose that pleasure was to be avoided and that to “indulge” in pleasure must require a healthy dose of guilt.
The message this sends is that we can’t be trusted around pleasure as if it will derail us, or something. In this scenario, guilt acts to protect us from ourselves and keep us “safe and in line.”
I’d like to propose though, that instead of only occasionally indulging in pleasure, while also feeling guilty about it, we just fully own it and make our lives as full of pleasure as possible. I think if we made pleasure (which translates to happiness) a priority, the world would be a much better place.
Because we’re so stingy with it, we’ve come to associate pleasure with selfishness or greed. But if we were more open with it, we’d see that it’s the exact opposite! Pleasure is like rocket fuel for our lives and the more we embrace pleasure, the happier and more loving and generous we can be.
How do you feel after a day of hard work, having also denied yourself delicious food, rest, or play? Are you full of energy and ready to help others? Or do you want to simultaneously cry, sleep, and eat a tub of ice cream? Now compare that to how you feel after a day of chatting with friends, eating delicious food, being outside, and having some great sex (or whatever it is that you find pleasurable). You probably feel happy, at peace, and more open to helping others.
Pleasure doesn’t have to be an expensive or lengthy process (i.e. it doesn’t need to involve a trip to the spa or a five-star resort). It can truly be as simple as taking a few deep breaths, making yourself some tea, or hugging someone you love. The beauty of pleasure is its simplicity. Pleasure means caring about yourself and offering yourself the love that you deserve.
While I write this, I keep pausing to check in on my breath and any tension in my body. The more I breathe and relax, the more pleasurable anything and everything feels. Practicing presence is practicing pleasure.
I also believe that we should be able to eat chocolate, drink champagne, take mid-day naps in the sun, go for 2-hour massage appointments, and buy ourselves beautiful things. We are spiritual beings living in a physical world, and the best way to celebrate this is by diving head first into the pleasures that this physical world can offer. We are here to have fun!
Most importantly, I think it’s important that we don’t see these as guilty pleasures that we only earn by putting in a hard day’s work. I want us to see pleasure as our prerogative, our birthright, and a celebration of what it means to be alive. I want us to know that pleasure doesn’t have to be earned.
I used to take life so seriously and having fun just didn’t seem overly important. But life changed for me, not all at once, but gradually, when I changed my perspective on pleasure. It got a whole lot more fun and a whole lot more amazing. I’ve made fun and pleasure my spiritual practice, and I am never looking back.
From nutrient dense sweeteners great for raw foodies to high-energy crystal charged water – it’s all about the magical, the medicinal AND the delicious here. So read on for a shopping list of the foods you need right now to create your very own high vibe pantry hit list.
1. High-vibe: Natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, stevia Way higher-vibe: Organic un-sulphured Black Strap Molasses
Black strap molasses is a double duty sweetening super food that approaches coconut oil territory when it comes to nutrition and sheer versatility. You can bake with it, use it for greater regularity, and to stimulate hair growth and banish grays – it can even double as a hair de-frizzer when mixed with warm water and applied as a mask. It’s low-glycemic, high in calcium and iron, and it’s great for vegans! Five tablespoons of blackstrap molasses contains 50 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, 95 percent of iron, and 38 percent of magnesium.
Yes, it has a strong flavor so it can’t totally replace all other sweeteners, BUT its high vibe qualities definitely merit adding it into heavy rotation. Ease into using BSM by adding 1-2 tablespoons to your morning Chai and top it off with a splash of almond milk. This old school come new school super food can be found almost any local supermarket.
2. High-vibe: Kale Way higher-vibe: Purslane
Although nothing can technically replace kale (Goddess forbid) this juicy, slightly lemony edible weed gains super star status in your kitchen due to its incredible nutritive and medicinal properties. For example, it’s the richest known plant source for Omega-3 fatty acids (usually found in fish oils). A one cup serving gives you all the Vitamin E you need in a day, and it’s also one of the best sources of magnesium as well as being high in calcium, potassium and vitamin C.
Used externally, it has similar properties to aloe and calendula in that its sticky broken leaves can soothe burns, stings and swellings while the juice can be used to treat ulcers, wounds, sores and gastrointestinal problems. And last but certainly not least, it’s also one of the five herbs richest in anti-depressant substances. Purslane is usually available in the summer and fall but you can always order Purslane online. Eat this green in salads, soups and smoothies, or fried in oil with chopped onion as a side dish. (And FYI – Purslane can get slimy so make sure to add it at the last minute to your recipes!)
3. High-vibe: Standard water filter Way higher-vibe: Alkaline Water filter
A Berkey, a Zen Filter or a Zero water carafe – if you can’t harvest actual fresh spring water it’s all about these gravity filters. So what’s all the hoopla with the alkaline water you say? The Alkalinity is referring to the pH level of the water, and the higher the pH, the more water helps hydrate the body on a cellular level. Water in its most natural state — untouched by pollution — is water that is highly alkaline (a high pH-balance between 9-11). However, most of the water we drink today (i.e. tap or bottled) is anything but, with most clocking a pH of somewhere between 4-8.
And when our bodies get out of balance (i.e. too acidic), we can experience low energy, fatigue, excess weight, poor digestion, aches and pains, and all sorts more serious disorders. Not to mention that high acidity in the body is one of the major factors effecting overall cell aging. So long story short, we want to get more alkaline any way we can – and these filters are a great way to do it. Now there are some Rolls Royce’s out there like Kangen Water Filters but if you’re not looking to shell out upwards of $5K the above mentioned filters are a super option.
4. High-vibe: Water with lemon Way higher-vibe: Laminar Crystal Charged Water
Part Muscovite Mica, part food-safe clay, Laminar Crystals have the capacity to not only make water more physically absorbable by the body (which equals far superior hydration) but they are also able to pick up and transmit many life-supporting cosmic frequencies, including those that support energetic balance and continually cleanse the surrounding environment. Cool additional factoid: Laminar crystals were used in the capstone of the Great Pyramid in Egypt! So you can only imagine what happens when you add these babies to your water! Users, including myself, have been known to experience less pain, better moods, clearer thinking, better toxin elimination, gorgeous skin and unbelievably increased energy levels…my assistants have affectionately dubbed it “crazy crack water.”
So what’s the skinny? When laminar crystals are added to water they energetically lower the surface tension of water – making it more easily absorbable and more “life giving” for the body. Most of us drink some form of tap or bottled water, which has considerably higher surface tension and is therefore much harder to absorb. And water that’s not absorbable is no bueño – kind of like trying to eat food without a fork. So where to get your hands on these little pearls of goodness? Numerous places on the Internet offer various Laminar crystal products but I highly recommend the Precious Prills brand available through Life Enthusiast.
5. High-vibe. Organic grass-fed milk / butter Way higher-vibe: RAW organic grass-fed milk / butter
On the rare (or maybe not) occasion that you consume dairy, upgrade by going RAW. Why? Because while all grass-fed dairy (vs grain-fed dairy) contains a little known vitamin called K2, an essential component in building healthy teeth, bones and the magic ingredient in healing cavities naturally, it’s in its most potent energetic state when “live” (ie. non-pasteurized). Though still technically “illegal” in many U.S. states, for hotly contested reasons which you can learn more about here – raw grass-fed dairy can still be had through many raw dairy farmer affiliated food buying co-ops. Or, if you’re lucky enough to live in a pro-raw milk state like California, right off your supermarket shelf. And for all the Vegans, never fear – Natto is here! A popular Japanese fermented soy bean product, Natto is the highest source of plant based K2 currently available.
6. High vibe: Any Random Green Superfood powder Way Higher Vibe: Dried Moringa Leaf Powder
Moringa leaf is pretty much the cat’s meow when it comes to all around nutrition. Native to Asia and Africa moringa has been used there for centuries but is just now making its way to our shores. Available for consumption as both a tea and a powder, dried Moringa leaf has the following staggering stats…1 gram of Moringa leaf powder = 7x the vitamin C in oranges, 4x the calcium in milk, 2x the protein in milk, 4x the vitamin A in carrots, 3x times the iron in spinach and 3x times the potassium in bananas.
So to call this baby a super food is an understatement — think of it as the holy grail of plant based nutrition. That’s right vegans, raw foodies, and vegetarians…Morninga is about to be your J-A-M. Sprinkle the powder in your tomato sauce, add it to your smoothies or drink it as a tea…Whatever way you get it, it’s all good. Moringa seed oil has also been shown to regenerate skin cells – I’ve actually used it on my scalp to increase hair growth, and it can also be used for inflammation, psoriasis, eczema and shingles. Holy grail indeed.
7. High Vibe: St. John’s Wort Way Higher Vibe: Ormus gold
Discovered by farmer turned researcher, David Hudson in the mid 1970’s while mining for gold on his farm in Arizona, a substance dubbed ORMUS was found to contain mineral elements (such as gold, palladium, iridium etc.) that were able to exist in a special energetic state described as “reserved for things like the ‘dark matter’ that astronomers look for in space, the Earth’s magnetic field, healthy soil, weather phenomena like lightning…even consciousness itself”. WOAH.
There’s still much that is unknown about the full capabilities of ORMUS, but simply put ORMUS is considered to be “life force energy” in material form. Pretty radical, huh? ORMUS has been known to increase feelings of awareness, connectedness, psychic phenomenon, dream lucidity, anti-aging, increased metabolism, miraculous healing and when added to water makes it more easily absorbable by the body. Most commonly available for consumption in tincture form ORMUS goes way beyond the classification of mere “supplement” – and could even be considered the ultimate magic ingredient.
8. High Vibe: Mugwort tea Way Higher Vibe: Wild Asparagus root tea
For those looking for something that goes a step beyond mugwort, make Wild Asparagus root tea, aka the other “dream time tea” your go-to. Similar to mugwort, Wild Asparagus (or Tian Men Dong as it’s known in China) is great for lucid dreaming and was known by monks there as the “flying herb” due to the “flying dreams” it stimulates. However, what really sets Wild Asparagus root apart are it’s heart opening effects and ability to help you move into alignment with spirit. Also used widely in Ayurvedic preparations as a women’s health tonic it can also be found under the name “Shatavari.” So before you go cozy up under the covers with some regular ol’ tea, if you’re up for a heart opening dreamtime adventure consider making a “trip” of it.
9. High Vibe: Chlorella Way Higher Vibe: Bentonite Clay
Bentonite Clay is composed of aged volcanic ash and is taste and odorless. Largely produced out of Fort Benton, Wyoming, Bentonite Clay is unique in its ability to produce an “electrical charge” when hydrated. SCIENCE STUFF COMIG UP. Upon contact with fluid, its electrical components change, giving it the ability to absorb toxins. As Bulk Herb Store explains: “think of the Montmorillonite (aka Bentonite) crystal flake resembling two pieces of bread, with a strong vacuum pulling the filling in between them. Whatever lands there (Sodium or Calcium) determines what kind of sandwich it will be. Now when you activate this clay sandwich, it will magnetically grab the junk in your body (heavy metals, toxins, acid, etc.) and trade it for the “filling”, taking the toxins out in your waste.” Got it?
This amazing “dirt” also has an alkalizing effect on the body and can help balance gut bacteria, along with quelling nausea, vomiting & diarrhea. P.S. For most internal uses (oral & intestinal) a little goes a long way (ie. a 1/2t in a 1/4-1c of water) so make sure not to overdo it, and be sure to avoid storing or mixing in metal containers since metal reduces it’s efficacy.
10. High Vibe: Green Tea Way Higher Vibe: Chaga & Reishi Mushroom Tea
Looking to crack open your pineal gland in between visits with the Grandmother? If Chaga & Reishi are not already in heavy rotation in your regimen – they should be. Both Chaga and Reishi mushrooms are grown in the northern hemisphere, and once foraged and consumed (as a water-soluble tea or alcohol soaked tincture), they both actively work to decalcify and activate the pineal gland (your third eye) in addition to helping you relax, handle stress and sleep better.
They’re also digestive aids, immune boosters and contain some of the highest antioxidant effects on the planet. And when adding these magic mushrooms to your regular routine don’t be surprised if you find yourself more easily moving into “flow” states or rising to howl at the moon.
Don’t get grossed out! The perfect poop (PP) is a sign that mind and body are working in perfect harmony. Ayurvedic practitioner Wolf Medicine says finding hers meant leaving New York City…
Forgive the crude title, but the Ayurvedic practitioner in me can’t help but get real about bowel movements. After all, a good gut is the key to good health and lately I’ve become obsessed with poop because I know it’s about more than just taking a dump. When shit ‘ain’t right down there, it’s a sign that shit ‘ain’t right in the mind – and in the name of addressing both, I find myself on a quest to figure some stuff out in my life.
Essentially, my ultimate goal in Ayurveda school was to experience the Perfect Poop (PP) – which is what all the doctors and practitioners who taught me actually referred to it as. The PP occurs first thing in the morning upon waking. A friend of mine says the urge to poop is what wakes her up in the morning. It should be shaped like a banana or a coiled up snake (yes this is truly possible), and yellowish brown in color.
If you aren’t gagging or disgusted by now, congrats! You are an emotionally mature person. If this is grossing you out then you’d better read on, because once you realize how important it is to have the PP daily, you will be looking in that toilet and jumping up and down with glee and admiration when it finally does occur.
For me, achieving the PP is epic, a sign that I am truly taking care of my body. The thing is, it only ever happens when I leave New York (my home) for vacation, or if I take a day or two off work. Seriously, I once went to visit my mom in Texas and was pooping perfect poops for days. And recently, after being constipated for three days, I had a morning off and experienced a moment of PP glory that brought such a sense of calm and happiness I almost took a picture to show to my friends.
I had been eating Ayurvedic meals of root veggies, ghee, Kitchari, and all that good stuff, and drinking warm water in the morning and Triphala tea at night for several days in addition to taking ‘moments of silence’ (my phrase for meditation) each morning. Then, it happened: not just a nice, long, snake-like poo in the toilet, but proof that my body was responding to my good intentions. A sign that mind and body were working in perfect harmony!
Getting all the waste out of the body, not only physical but mental waste as well, is how we stay healthy. Put good food and thoughts in, and the kidneys, liver and colon will get the ‘bad’ stuff out. What happens if it stays in? Well, cancer for one thing. And migraines. And skin rashes and acne and a host of other ailments and diseases. If the crap isn’t coming out via the rectum, then it’s coming out in the skin, or festering in the colon, liver or blood, or wherever else the body decides to store it. Then it gets rotten and toxic, and then you got problems.
Which brings me to 2009. Back then I was in my late twenties and drank one to two bottles of wine a day. After months of my skin breaking out in either acne or eczema, I decided to change my ways for good. I didn’t really pay attention to poop then. I knew constipation was bad because I’d read it somewhere and that was about it. I was pretty regular but relied heavily on coffee to help me ‘go,’ which, I later learned, was also contributing to all the skin issues.
So I quit drinking coffee and alcohol (and ‘til this day I feel like if I can accomplish both those things, then I can do anything in this lifetime. ANYTHING). I cut out gluten, and later, much later, processed sugar (another REALLY difficult journey that’s a whole different conversation).
I also started reading about Ayurveda, and even went to an Ayurvedic doctor who put me on a diet of no onions, garlic, tomatoes, shell fish, cashews, peanuts, yogurt, fermented food, coffee or alcohol, along with having me take a bunch of Indian herbs and immune boosting vitamins. Meat was also off the menu, but I decided I needed at least one thing in my life that I could still enjoy. Was this hard for me to stick to? Hell no! I actually found I thrive off this kind of shit.
I love a challenge, and I’m so vain that if it keeps my skin clear, I will do it. For the next eight or so months I pretty much stayed away from partying and instead ate really well and read books at home. I actually don’t remember if I was having regular bowel movements at that time but I assume my digestion was better.
The bad news is, I was still getting eczema outbreaks every so often despite my saint-like diet. About two years into my new Ayurvedic life, a friend suggested I try meditation. I felt my body stiffen and my mind shut down (but not in the good, meditative way) as soon as she suggested it. Sit still? Not think? Quitting coffee is one thing…but for somebody whose made restlessness an art form, that shit is impossible.
You think checking your Facebook or Instagram non-stop in a problem? Well I laugh, ‘cause that is child’s play people. Try not committing to ANYTHING, ever, as your life’s work. Routine, consistency, commitment, stillness…all of it is like kryptonite to me. I’m amazed I’m still with my current girlfriend (it’s been nine months which is like nine years for me).
I have yet to join a club, organization or class, and stick with it for more than a month. I have also managed to avoid a permanent place of employment throughout my twenties and into my mid-thirties. The list of careers I have either attempted so far include, but are not limited to: joining the peace corps, working on a boat, becoming an ordained minister, being a massage therapist, homeopath, acupuncturist, psychiatrist, naturopath, bike mechanic, addiction counselor, hermit, herb farmer, stripper, dominatrix, queer porn actor, houseboy, dancer, choreographer, yoga teacher (that is still something I’m looking into) and many more.
I’ve also made several attempts at figuring out how to make a living hanging out in the desert or the beaches of Hawaii and Australia (I’m actually still looking into those). All of this is to say my passions and interests vary, and rarely stick. So if I can’t even choose a life path then how in the hell am I going to meditate even three minutes a day (my goal each morning when I wake up)?
People often blame New York, saying it breeds this sort of behavior in folks. I hear over and over that there is so much variety here – so many paths to choose – that people take on too much. I’ve come to believe it isn’t New York that makes people this way – rather, it’s a mecca for people who already have this monkey-mind-I-love-to-be-busy-and-do-as-much-as-possible quality in them. New York is where busy people come to get off on being busy.
How does this relate back to the PP? My digestion got really fucked up when I lost a long-term freelance job, around the same time my friend suggested mediation to me. And what I’ve learned about pooping, or lack thereof, is that if your mind isn’t settled, calm and in harmony with your body, then the rest of your body will not function properly.
This is an illustration of the direct link between mind and body. If your mind is scattered and frantic, then your digestion will be scattered and frantic and too – thus, constipation (and lots of other symptoms that come under the umbrella term IBS). In Ayurveda this is called a ‘vata’ imbalance. Vata is ether and air. It is a quality within each of us that is light, cold, rough, dry and constantly moving. It is located in the mind and pelvis. You can’t always see ether and air but they are there.
So how to address this imbalance? I have learned to find a calm, grounded place for my mind through meditation and yoga. For me, sticking to routine as much as possible also helps. Any divergent from my morning or evening routine means no PP for me. I seriously need two hours each morning of quiet time – no talking, no rushing to get ready, no looking at lots of crap on the internet – in order to properly evacuate my bowels.
My girlfriend and I recently made an agreement to block Facebook from our lives and to have silence in the morning to either sip warm water or do pranayama, and that has helped a lot. When I still get eczema every now and then, I know the feedback my body is giving me is that a time of retreat will do me some good – in addition to upping my dosage of probiotics and blood cleansing herbs.
As for finally settling on a career as an Ayurvedic practitioner? Using the practice to heal myself and my poop has shown me that it’s my dharma to share Ayurveda with others. Oh wait. Or is my path simply to become a yogi, practicing svadhyaya in the mountains of northern India? For now I commit to listen to my body and follow its guidance.
Have you found a way to do the PP too? We’re all yogis here, so come share your stories on Twitter, Instagram (maybe not your photos tho) and Facebook