Hello & welcome back!

I am so excited to bring you the inspiring story of Karina Stewart, co-founder of the world renowned Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary, in this eye-opening episode.

Listen in and dive deep into Karina's personal journey - from a passionate dancer and aspiring psychiatrist - to a holistic health visionary. Co-creating a a world leading wellness sanctuary in Koh Samui, Thailand.

You'll get an intimate glimpse into the making of Kamalaya, the sanctuary's unique wellness philosophy, and the transformative power of understanding and nurturing the body, mind, and spirit.

You'll hear first hand how Karina's early life experiences and encounters with Eastern spiritual and healing practices shaped her path and led to the establishment of a wellness retreat that's touched thousands of lives.

Prepare to be moved by tales of resilience, learn the significance of health in achieving your dreams, and get motivated to embark on your wellness journey.

Tune in to uncover:

  1. The profound impact of personal health crises on life paths and purpose.
  2. The importance of blending ancient wisdom with modern science for holistic wellness.
  3. Strategies for overcoming burnout and restoring balance.
  4. The power of nature, nutrition, and nurturing practices in enhancing well-being.
  5. Inspiring insights on living your dream life through wellness and intention.

...and so much more.

Let Karina's story inspire you to take the next step towards a life you love, filled with health, happiness, and fulfillment. Harmonizing dreams and wellness.

As always, I’d LOVE to hear what resonates with you from this episode and what you plan to implement after listening in. So please share and let’s keep the conversation going in the Dream Life Podcast Facebook Group here.    

Have a wonderful weekend …and remember, it all starts with a dream 💛


Kristina 💛

Dream Life Founder



 Dream Life Wellness Journal


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Hi there and welcome back to another episode. There's one thing that is super important when it comes to living our dream life and that is our health and wellness. So today I have a super inspiring guest who is all about health and wellness and on top of that has created. An incredibly inspiring business that I absolutely love.

Today's guest is the founder of the multi award winning Kamalaya Wellness Sanctuary on Koh Samui in Thailand. Karina Stewart is the renowned authority on holistic health and well being. An acclaimed speaker and innovator, Karina has more than 40 years of experience in the study and practice of diverse Asian healing.

and spiritual traditions. Karina has received more than 40 industry awards on behalf of Kamalaya. Most recently, Kamalaya was named Worldwide Health and Wellness Destination of the Year at the 2023 World Spa and Wellness Awards in London. Amazing. As the creative force behind the legendary Kamalaya, Karina's vision was to create programs and experiences that draw on many of the influences and healing modalities of the East and West.

Kamalaya is undoubtedly unique because of how all the various healing elements have been curated and brought together in a truly holistic way. Kamalaya opened in November 2005 and from the very beginning Karina's wellness concept has been based on the idea of synergy. Karina develops holistic wellness programs that access the healing power within and support a harmonious integration of Body, mind, and spirit.

One of my dreams was to go to Kamalaya and I did with my sister a few years ago and we absolutely loved it. And now I have a new dream that involves Kamalaya and that is to have a dream life retreat there. Not sure when that is going to happen, but it's on my list of dreams. So stay tuned. I absolutely love this conversation with Karina.

And I actually had one recently as I was on her podcast. I will link to that in the show notes in case you want to listen to that as well. Karina is simply amazing. So let's get right into it.

Hello there and welcome. I am so excited to have you on my podcast. Thank you so much, Kristin. I'm delighted to be here with you, truly. Thank you. Thank you. I know that we are going to have so much to talk about, but before we dive in, can you tell us if you had a dream as a child, something you wanted to do or become or have?

Oh boy, that's a big horseman. The thing I remember is I was very, very passionate about dancing. I took the opportunity to wiggle and twist and jump around from as early as when I could walk. So I think being in my body in a joyful way was something that was always a part of me and has remained so not in a professional way.

So that was one thing, but as far as a dream of becoming, I. At eight years old, I decided I wanted to become a psychiatrist. I really wanted to understand people. I was fascinated by all the adults around me. I grew up with a multicultural family and from diverse backgrounds and educations. And so I think there was one as a child wanting to understand the adult so you can figure.

you know, how to work with them and, and manage them, if you will. But also just the curiosity, because some of them were so fascinating, you know, they were so different from the people that were normally around. And, and so my interest in humans per se, as opposed to animals or just plants. was from a very young age, and I wanted to understand what made them tick, how their minds work, and then, of course, the healing aspect, you know, helping in some way.

And that has come true for me. I didn't realize in that in the field of, uh, health and healing, and in particular holistic, which takes into account the emotions and the mind. So I did get to realize that dream, not in a direct literal way. No, and that's amazing because I think it's so interesting that you had that so early and, um, you know, cause that's a very, very much an EQ, high EQ when you have such an interest, uh, in beginning and I guess, um, I guess the more we, we get To understand people, the less we understand people.

Is it that true? Is it true? I think what it, what it ultimately is accepting that we're all unique in our composition, what, what drives us, our needs, our passions, our fears, our dreams, all of it is very unique and that we can't make generalization. So all we can really do, even with a lot of training is show up.

Fully with whatever training we have or don't have and be present and offer kindness. I believe kindness and acceptance goes a long, long way, you know? Yeah, absolutely. I couldn't, I could not agree more. And it's also interesting because I grew up in Sweden where um, there's much more diversity in Sweden now 'cause we have so many more cultures within Sweden.

But we didn't have, I grew up on a farm and I didn't get to travel and it was such an. I opened it to me when I started to travel to kind of a similar countries in so many ways, but it was still very, uh, an eye opener. So I think as a child, I had a dream to travel the world because I wanted to see more of the world and, and that came through for me.

So anyway, let's get into the conversation. I would love for you to share a little bit about your journey, how you got into where you are now, and a little bit of Kamalaya and whatever you want to share, because we've got listeners from all over the world that may not know about you yet. I'm delighted.

Thank you for that question. For me, the journey into health and healing began from very young because my mother had a health crisis. It was before the nine years old when I decided I wanted to be a psychiatrist. She was diagnosed with cancer and she decided she was going to approach this life and death challenge by pursuing a path that was not the mainstream path.

So she did. opt for surgery, but she didn't want to do radiation and chemotherapy. And so she knew she had to do something more than just a surgery. So she explored options and educated herself and decided to approach it holistically, which for her meant. A change in her marriage, which was very, very stressful marriage for her.

I just think they were not compatible. It involved becoming a vegetarian at a time when in Mexico, I don't think you could count vegetarians on one hand, you know, just part of the culture, yoga, meditation, creativity. You know, she had studied, uh, to be a Montessori schoolteacher, so she already knew a lot about the creative aspect that was important in education, but she started incorporating it in her own life with music and dance.

And, you know, to the benefit of the whole family, she survived and remained cancer free for another 15, 18 years. But that meant that we were then raised. In a very different way, in a very different way where food was very important. She never let us have sugar or processed food. Everything was fresh, mostly plant based, but for us, it was not 100 percent vegetarian.

We ate eggs, we ate fish and chicken, but not a lot of it and not. All the time. We were taught meditation. I was quite young when I first learned meditation and it became part of my life. I mean, I often took little naps while I meditated as a, you know, preteen, but, but it became a path, let's say something that was normal for us to pursue and playing and nature and dance and music.

So that path became part of my life journey as the norm. So much later when I was Then when I wanted to be a psychiatrist, and then I wanted to, um, I went to university, but by the time I got to university, I realized that I really wasn't wanting to just prescribe medications and the traditional medical path of psychiatry was going to take me in that direction.

So for a while, I lost my bearings. That means I wasn't sure what to do because that had been what I had wanted to do. But then I was fortunate. I met, well, a couple of things happened. I took a gap year to travel to India to meet a great Himalayan master where I deepened my meditation. And different forms of yoga in the West, we think of yoga as the postures, you know, the asanas, but in fact, yoga is a whole path and there's devotional yoga and there's service yoga and there's, uh, intellect wisdom yoga.

So I went to study with a master in the Himalayas and immersed myself in the spiritual and philosophical traditions of India. And that changed, of course, everything for me. Because my now husband only has been, and I met there. Um, so without that, I would have never met him and we would have never created Kamalaya, but another thing happened after university.

I met. a Taoist master, uh, his name, he goes by Omni, but his writing name is, um, Master Ni and I, and then Hua Qing. He's many, many books in English and many more books in Mandarin. And he is a Taoist master that comes from a lineage. I think he's 37 father to son in that lineage. And they're not just Taoist masters, they're doctors of traditional Chinese medicine.

And I had this incredible good fortune to spend one day with him when I was 25. As I was debating after my first degree, where do I go? And we had this one day and who he was, his vitality, his brilliance, an incredible mind that answered things just with a clarity that was breathtaking. And by the end of the day, I just said, Well, what is it about you?

What is it about you? Is it your diet? You know, I was so curious. I knew something was extraordinary. And so that day changed the course of my life because he said, It's my books. My spiritual practice, excuse me, he said, It's my spiritual practice. You can read my books, and I found out he and his sons had founded a school of traditional Chinese medicine in California.

I was up in Seattle, so I moved and I studied traditional Chinese medicine, got my master's degree, and that, of course, informed me as much as my time in the Himalayas, um, with my master root teacher, who's, uh, Babaji, Sri Herakon Babaji. So these two extraordinary teachers informed me in different ways, but.

equally, just in different pathways. And along the way, I mean, I had studied dance, and I had studied yoga, and I'd studied many things, therapy, so as well along the way. But then I graduated, and John, my now husband, we got together. He, he loved being a yogi monk. And he invited me to spend time together and very quickly we decided to get married.

And right from the beginning, he said, would you like to one day create somewhere where all of your training and healing, all of my training in these spiritual traditions, we can bring them together and share this with the world. And so. That was the beginning of another part of the journey. So for me, it was a, from very young, I've been in this world.

It's sort of the, I was fortunate. So it wasn't something where I had to adjust my thinking or believe that this complementary therapies could work. I knew they were because they saved my mother's life twice. So I feel very blessed. Plus, of course it kept us healthy, healthy, vibrant, you know, kind of healthy hair that people stop you in the street where your skin is glowing and they would stop.

My mother said, what is, what do you feed your children? Because we were just vibrant and, uh, and very energetic. And so I'm grateful. I'm very grateful that for me, it was given. You can say, I love that. I love actually that you share that because a lot of people who are listening to this podcast. Some of them are on the quest to find their dream life, whatever that is.

And sometimes we find our dream life in the most difficult way of searching your mum being unwell. So I think that's really inspiring that you share that because some people who are listening might feel, Oh, I got a challenge and I've got to overcome that. And that could be. my path going forward. So I love that.

Absolutely. And I will share quickly just to add to that. Many, many practitioners that I meet, including practitioners here at Kamalaya, when I interviewed them and I asked them, what, how did you begin your journey in the, in this path, naturopathy, Chinese medicine, yoga. The vast majority, either they themselves had a crisis that launched them to seek answers because they weren't finding the answers elsewhere, or someone they really love, a parent, a relative, a child, was the catalyst for them pursuing alternatives because the mainstream path was not giving them enough of a benefit.

So it's, it's, I had a teacher who used to say, crisis awakens, and I would modify that to say. Crisis has the possibility of awakening us. It doesn't always, but certainly the opportunity is there. Yeah, absolutely. And for anyone who does not have it, you don't have to wait for it. You can produce whatever you want to produce in your life without that, of course.

So, but I think there are absolutely with the challenges that we went through and I was on your podcast and we talked about that, that it really got me to a. Much more exciting business, even though I love my first business, I didn't think that I could love a new business as much as I love my new one. So that's really, really exciting.

I really want for you to share a little bit about Kamalaya because I know that not everyone has been there yet. And, uh, that was a dream for me to go there. And, uh, I actually gave that to my sister for her 50th birthday and we went there together. So she lives in Sweden. I live in Australia and we met there.

And, uh, it was so inspiring and it was so funny because we, um, I don't know what we had in mind, but we, I think we were thinking, uh, a little bit of a few messages and a few, uh, learnings and then lots of spare time. And we, in the end, we were like, what are you doing today? What are you doing today? And the end was like, let's speak tonight.

And we had so many laughs and so many, um, Great experiences. And it was almost like, well, I think I had like an hour and a half head massage or something ridiculous. And it was so, and I think it was it me or my sister who said, I don't know if I need more. And I think that's an amazing place to get. To, which is often not the case because often when you go to, for a short amount of time, you feel like, Oh, I just need more, a little bit more, but I felt like a new person when I left.

So I'd love for you to share a little bit about Kamalaya and what you are all about and what you guys do to change people's lives. Thank you. Thank you. It was our dream when we got together to create a place where you, the individual, the guest, when you visited, could be immersed in the idyllic, optimal environment.

Where all the necessary tools, the palette, if you will, would be available for you to be able to become inspired, motivated, and ultimately empowered to make better choices for your maximum well being on all levels, physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually. Right? So this was the vision. We had to go about curating that experience.

What goes in that cauldron, if you will, a cauldron for transformation, and what doesn't? What is our philosophy? At the same time, leaving it very rich so that there's an incredible array of options and pathways for people. That it's not very narrow and prescriptive. It's not a boot camp. It's very much about choices.

And you are in the driver's seat. You as the guest with your co pilot who is your practitioner so that together You're choosing and selecting the right program the right classes the right therapies That will augment what your vision is what your goals are for this particular visit now short time Less time for some other things, but optimal for some things.

Longer time, other programs come into view. So, it really just depends. Uh, there's so much flexibility for each individual. It's very personalized. And our vision was much more than just, you know, oh, lose some weight or get fit. Those are great starting points or improve your sleep. We know these are the pillars of health on the physical and emotional and mental levels.

So, I don't want to undermine that. But we also had in Envision, we call it, you know, feel life's potential, but really it's like embody your potential, right? You have to bring the body along, but your ultimate potential is huge. What you envision, what you dream, you really can. Bring into manifestation and I don't mean that lightly.

I mean Kamalaya was just a dream, right? And then here it is. It's we've been open more than 18 years and it's it continues to grow it's a garden that just keeps growing and enriching and expanding and blossoming it just It's never ending. And I believe that is a life principle. So I mean it in the deepest sense that we can be inspired to fulfill a potential that we might not even know is there until we start tilling the soil of our being, if you will, physically and emotionally and mentally, not, not just physically.

Physically is important and it's the foundation. But there's so much more beyond that. And, you know, you manifested your dreams already many times, not just twice, you know, many times. And we'll continue to do that on continuing to do that. That's I believe we're here for that. And we change. You know that when I was young, I wanted to be psychiatrist.

Now that's different. Now I'm more interested in communicating and touching people by being with people or communicating with people is Related, but not the same, you know? Yeah, I absolutely love it. And I, I really always talk about this here and in my dream life coaching program, that you need to have the health and the energy to create your dream life.

And I think going. To like a retreat, health retreat, or do whatever you need to do to improve your health. So you have all the energy and vitality to actually make it all happen, because it's not always an easy path, as you know. And, uh, I want to talk actually about that because when I met you through the beautiful Lindahl, who's also been on my podcast, uh, for anyone listening, that's Lindahl Mitchell, uh, founder of Aurora.

That's where we met. And, uh. I remember you talking about going through a bit of a burnout and, uh, love for you to share that because I think it's so important to share because you would think that with your education and your background that you had all the tools, but you still managed to do that. And I think that's so important to share because I think some people who get sick or go through burnout thinking, how could it happen?

Why didn't I see it coming? And I think that's so important to talk about because maybe we can help people to prevent it. Well, absolutely. Um, I really appreciate that question because I, like you, feel it's really important for people to realize that even if you're in the health. You're a human being like everyone else and subject to the same blind spots, the same challenges, the same limitations, you know, and the same, um, strengths as well.

When you're passionate about what you're doing, you can sometimes forget that you still need to eat and sleep and look after yourself, you know. So we were starting Kamalai up and I was 42 and I decided to set a baseline for myself in Bangkok. There was a, business that was a joint venture between a French anti aging clinic and one of the top hospitals in Bangkok and they had done a project together and I happened to hear about it.

And so I went in to set a baseline for myself, where I was with my health, but more importantly, because I wanted to test the system to see if it would be something we could use for our guests. And I was 42 and they did 24 hour urine collection, a lot of blood tests, and then a lot of different tests like lung capacity.

Two max and they, um, uh, flexibility, balance, strength, grip strength. I mean, things that are used to test for longevity markers. And it turned out that I was 42, remember we're just starting Kamalaya, and I tested 14 years younger than my age, so biologically I was 28 years old. Now, I had not been doing anything specifically for longevity, it's just my lifestyle was like that, you know, as I mentioned meditation and yoga and mostly plant based and etc, etc.

So the doctor was really blown away. She was a Harvard medical school graduate, and she was also a Harvard MBA, and she was the medical director. And she said, look, I don't know why you're here. There's not much I can do for you. You clearly know what you're doing and you're in great shape and you know, good luck.

And I said, thank you. I'll be back. I just, you know, I needed to. Find out what you were doing and we had discussions and in the end, we didn't work with them because the turnaround for all the tests was three weeks and guests would be leaving or have left before we got the results. So it didn't work at that time.

Two years later, you know, full throttle on a startup. My husband and I for us. For a long time, we're on our own, you know, just hiring consultants. And then we started getting a team, uh, working really, really hard. You know how it is with a startup. And especially we had never done anything like this. I went back, I was having some sleep issues, and I did feel stressed, but I was not prepared for what came back.

When they gave me the results, the first question the doctors asked was, Did you do exercise before having these tests? Which is one of the contraindications. They say you cannot. And I said, No, of course not. Bye. I've read all the instructions. No, and they said my lactic acid levels were through the roof as if I had just run a marathon and they were shocked that I hadn't.

And they said, You are really stressed. And then they said, Basically, you are so stressed. You're like a train going 300 miles an hour without any breaks. And they warned me and they said, normally in Western medicine, because your serotonin is shot, we would put you on something like Prozac, but because they are also holistic, they said, we're not going to do that.

We're going to give you supplements, but you need to get on top of this stress. But the key marker was that in two years I had aged. Drumroll 12 years. So I was 44 and I was biologically 42. Now if I hadn't had the baseline I would have felt good, right? Okay, not great, but I'm two years younger biologically than my age, but actually I had aged A lot just from two years of high stress.

So that was, that led to then my trying to figure out how, how am I going to stop because it's still so much was just on the two of us and I had to take a pause and it was meant to be for one month, but it took me four. Months to regain my sleep, to regain my rhythm, to regain my balance, to where I could re engage work without immediately stressing out again.

And I had never had an experience like that. And I had pushed myself before in studies, academically, in projects. I tended to always have eyes bigger than my stomach, if you will. But that frightened me because it really took a long time to recover. Uh, four months is a long time. I thought, Oh, okay, I'll just take a break for a month and I'll be back.

And it, it took much, much longer. So that was a very devastating experience. The good news is I learned a lot about what it takes to recover when you do put yourself in a burnout state for me, by the way, when I say burnout, it means adrenal exhaustion rather than a mental breakdown, because I know in Europe for those from Europe, especially German speaking Europe, often I have burnout is used.

almost synonymously with a mental breakdown or a nervous breakdown. It was really adrenal function where you're tired, but wired, where you can fall asleep, but you wake up a few hours later because your cortisol levels are too high. And eventually your cortisol levels crash. So I was more in that adrenal state and I learned how to re regulate my sleep.

It wasn't easy. It wasn't easy, but I did learn how to do it and do it without sleeping pills because I did not want to get into the sleeping pill cycle. I learned how to restore my adrenal glands. I learned how to rebalance my mind, which is like a wild monkey. I was without breaks. How do I recover my breaks?

How do I recover the sympathetic? parasympathetic rhythm, because we need both. But, you know, I needed to get out of the sympathetic. That was so invaluable. And so when we created our category of programs under the stress and burnout category, of which I believe we have four, I knew Intimately, what we were aiming to achieve for our guests.

Yeah, that's fascinating. Cause I love to know what you actually did to kind of restore that. Because I think a lot of people might not get there yet in terms of where you got to. But I think a lot of people are on that. Oh, absolutely. I know because the world hasn't gotten. easier since COVID. I mean, COVID really set something off and many, many people haven't necessarily found their equilibrium again.

The consequences are still with us and it's not just consequences of physical health or economic health. We know we have a mental health. Um, crisis because of what we went through, the isolation didn't help. And then everything else around it, meaning actual health issues, et cetera. So I would say one of the, on my journey, the form of burnout that I had, uh, which was this adrenal exhaustion.

It was really important for me to regain my sleep. If I couldn't get my sleep regulated. I would head back into the burnout stage. And so I had to find ways to do that. And for me, I did physical exercise, but physical exercise that was relaxing. So it was in nature walking, but not, not running at a pace and timing myself.

No. Let's say a fast brief squat, but again, without pushing myself to exhaustion. So in nature was important. Was it, that was a key thing I did cheek on, which is similar to, let's say, yoga, but flow yoga, gentle yoga, not gymnastic yoga, right? Cause you're trying to get the nervous system to unwind, not to stimulate it.

And different types of yoga are very stimulate stimulating. I did a lot of breathing practice on a daily basis. All three of these were very important. And then I, I watched, I changed my diet, so I made sure I had no caffeine. For me, it had to be past noon. I couldn't touch caffeine. I just could not touch it.

And even then, no coffee. I mean, I never was a coffee drinker. Uh, but I had to make my teas much lighter that had caffeine in the morning. Oh, and I had to eat more often. I had to eat more often because in my case, I was losing weight. Um, that was not, it's not true for everybody, but that was particularly true for me.

So I ate more often, but I ate very clean. So protein, snacks with protein, healthy fats and vegetables. So my diet became more nourishing. Everything I did became more nourishing, but it began with the sleep. Now internally, I had to take it seriously. People were all used to hearing stress, stress, stress, stress, stress, stress.

I'm in the health field. Even I didn't really take it seriously until I had this crisis. Not really. I took it seriously, but along with, okay, drinking enough water, you know, but stress will kill you. I mean, it really, truly will. And so you have to take it seriously. You must prioritize yourself. You must, these are, these are like mental adjustments.

You have to take it very seriously. Do not postpone it. Do not say, yeah, yeah, when I go on holiday. No, no, no. You need to take it seriously. You need to put yourself in the driver's seat and put yourself as a priority. And then my third thing on that is you need, even if you have someone help you slow down internally enough that you then weed out the unnecessary.

Anything that's extraneous, you have to pare it down. You have to, for now, let go of some activities, let go of some of the extras and just streamline what it is you're going to focus your life force on. Because You don't have a full bank account right now, metaphorically speaking, you know, your, your adrenals are struggling, your nervous system is struggling, et cetera.

So those would be my tips on that level and work with a practitioner who can give you the supplements, the B complex, the pantothenic acid, the vitamin C for the inflammation, because everybody has different, the, the supplements that can help with sleep, magnesium, different forms of magnesium. There are herb blends, there are, uh, essential oil blends, uh, for me, chamomile tea, lavender scent.

But it's not true for everybody. Um, in the U. S. you can use melatonin off the shelf. So I did use mel and do use melatonin. But for my sister, it makes her really ill to use melatonin. So we're all different. Go to a homeopath, go to a naturopath, whichever appeals to you. Or a Chinese medical doctor that can give you that extra benefit.

But you need a foundation. If you just go for all the supplementation on top. and you don't have the foundation, that's not going to restore and repair you and rebuild you. So it's important that the foundation we all hear about, but do we really take it seriously? That's why that's so important. I did. I had to.

I love that because I think so many people live with that chronic stress that it almost become normal. And I'm absolutely guilty of this myself. But sometimes when I see certain people are probably, and this might be my case in some ways as well. addicted to that feeling of that adrenaline and that cortisol.

And I often think because I, I love coffee. I often talk about coffee here and, um, and I take it away once a quarter when I do a bit of a quarterly detox. And, uh, it's really, it's really hard. For me, because it's one thing that I enjoy so much. And, uh, I can also imagine a lot of listeners having a bit of addiction to technology.

So love for you to talk about that because I'm assuming there will be a lot of people coming with certain addictions that might not be serious addictions in terms of. Life threatening, but love to talk about that because I think sometimes it's not just, um, the actual caffeine. It's actually the feeling we're addicted to.

So, love for you to talk through that a little bit, because I'm sure you have plenty of guests in that category. Well, the reality is that, you know, the use of social media is addictive, especially when we You know, when Facebook developed the likes, you know, it became much more addictive and we are social beings.

So it's a very powerful tool. However, it is highly, highly addictive. So first of all is recognizing and how much we're actually using a particular tool. I mean, the phones just made it that much more dangerous because the phones are with us all the time and putting some kind of tracker in your computer.

And on your phone that tracks, you know, how much time you're actually on it. I put it on my phone to see, you know, to actually measure it because if you don't measure it, you won't really know how much you're on it. It can be difficult to know, you know, what amount is phone calls and what amount is social media set up, but it really is a beginning measure it so that you have the reality.

The second thing is recognize that you are producing, you know, whether it's dopamine, whatever chemicals are being released. They are being stimulated by these tools. It's no different than being addicted to, to caffeine or adrenaline and cortisol. And once you deplete dopamine, the problem with that is it's a motivational neurotransmitter.

I mean, I really feel for teenagers because the more they scroll and engage, the more they're using up their dopamine, the less motivation at a time of life where they really need that motivation. Is it going to be launching into the world? Right? Find out how much you're using it, and then the same thing.

Take it seriously. It's not a joke, and none of us are immune. None of us are immune. The algorithms that are used are very powerful. We can't override this by willpower, right? So, just take it seriously, and then say, okay, I will allow myself. This amount. I don't think it's realistic for most people to say, I'm not going to use it at all.

It's become so much a part of our life, but choose which ones are most constructive, which ones are more true tools, which ones are you completely? It's like cotton candy. You got to get rid of it. You know, um, which ones are relaxing. You know, I don't know for any women listening. Uh, but for me, when during COVID and I, I ended up stranded, isolated in the States, I couldn't get back into Thailand for nine months.

So my husband and I were separated for that time, which was very, very stressful for me. Uh, I used, believe it or not, interest to look at home decor. I can't tell you how many colors of house paint I looked at, but it was very meditative. It was exactly like interior design magazines, which I find very relaxing, but it puts me in a very creative dreamy state fashion clothes.

Don't do that for me. But home decor is like, oh, yeah, I could change the wall color. Oh, look at new kitchens. And I get relaxed in a creative zone. So I did use it. Would I delete that? No, it really was very calming and soothing. But I wasn't addicted. I wasn't like, oh, my God, I gotta have more. Thing I did in a, in a very controlled, easy to control way because it was not, uh, compulsive.

So take it seriously, measure and decide what is a healthy amount of time and recognize that it is powerful. We're not immune to it. Nobody's immune to it. If you use it, we're susceptible. And lastly, consider that the time you're on that, you're not face to face with people who are real, embodied, there, and will not be there always.

I think we take that for granted. I think we fool ourselves thinking this person will always be here. My mother will always be here, I can go and have tea with her another time. My husband I'm with every day, we're together, it doesn't matter if I spend, you know, let's say an hour watching, whatever. You know, that's an illusion because everything is impermanent and every moment with people we love and are alive with us is very precious.

So I would kind of somehow remind myself that, to choose live in vivo versus technology. And we see that so much with families sitting together, having dinner and everyone are on their phones. It's, it's just such a crazy world. And I think one day we'll wake up and think, gosh, we wasted so much time on those phones.

Oh, if I may, I'm sorry, but I just wanted to add quickly. Actually, Malaya, we don't force people not to use technology. What we do is we. Most of the property, you can't use the technology. You can use it in your room and you can use it in the library. And aside from that, no public spaces, because there aren't people who are truly doing a detox, a digital detox, and they don't want to be reminded.

And it is a potent reminder when everyone else is on their phone. Absolutely. Absolutely. And, um, I was speaking to someone before about this. I was on someone else's podcast earlier today and, uh, how we are just So used to not having that time to think. So when we're waiting for something, we grab the phone and, and I'm, I'm guilty of this as well, so I'm not immune to it either.

So I, and you know, as soon as we land there, you know, the aeroplanes land, everyone is up on their phone and when it goes through airport, everyone is looking down. And, and I think, and you know, I have teenage kids, so it's something that, um, I'm very aware of and really want to manage well. Okay. And I, and I think COVID did not help with that because I think most parents were very, very strict or not every parents, but a lot of people were much more managing it.

But when everyone had to use screens for connecting with people or homeschooling became this tool that we needed at the time. And of course that became, um, addictive, but I, yeah, I think it's just that time. And, you know, when my daughter said that she's bored, I actually really enjoy hearing that because It's so easy not to be bored today because you can just grab your phone and get that dopamine hit really quickly.

And yeah, then you're lost. So, um, I think, yeah, it's a, it's something that I hope we all wake up to so we don't waste our life being on, on the phone. And I've seen this also with people who, who travel that, you know, you spend all that time when you're traveling, being with people. back home, et cetera, where you kind of, and that's a beautiful thing as well.

Cause I'm knowing, moving from one side of the world to the, to another is difficult. So that's a beautiful thing, but it can also turn into that you're actually not in the new country. You're actually still back home. So it's a, it's a, of course, fine line as it is with everything. Yes. It's a really beautiful tool if it's used correctly, but like every tool, it can be abused.

Yeah, absolutely. So, I'd love to talk about nutrition because I think that is something that Kamalaya does so well and so beautiful, and I think there's just nothing better than Asian food and flavors and herbs and all the great things that you guys do. Can you give some simple tips on how we can start really nourishing ourselves with food?

I'm a big fan of creating solid foundations. I really am. I think we can get really exotic, you know, and there's so many different trends and there's so many, you know, by the way, all good, all good, you know, whether it's keto or vegan or. Whatever. There's so many. Um, fasting, not fasting. It's just a big panoply of options and choices and a lot of contradictions also.

So, I, for myself, I like to just start with solid, simple foundation. For example, food in as natural state as possible. Does that mean we can't ever have frozen berries? No. But as much as possible, have food that is fresh. It doesn't have to always be seasonal, but that helps, you know, just keep it simple what's available.

But again, frozen is fine. I'm a little more loathe to use canned because of the obvious reason. So whole in its whole state. So you're not processing it, et cetera. I believe for most people, people still need. animal protein because it is more bioavailable. Um, but the quantities really depend on people's unique metabolism.

Some people really do need more protein and some people do extremely well on less protein. So I don't, you know, I would stay within healthy normal markers and I would say Really emphasize the plant foods and again from leafy greens to root vegetables to the, you know, cruciferous family to a lot of herbs and spices.

Some of the most potent plant foods are the herbs and spices, whether ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric, you know, incredible, etc, etc, etc. Mints, lavender, just use them, right? Flavor them, etc. Fresh seafood. is controversial, but I would still recommend it. Um, chicken eggs as much as possible organic, so that you really are staying away from the growth hormones, from the estrogens, from the antibiotics, which they have to use and do use.

I mean, I don't think they have to, but they do under the conditions that are usually used for these animals, which is another subject. But if you do use animal proteins, just really that you must not compromise that they have to be hormone free and antibiotic free. and raised as humanely as possible. And we all know how to find that.

Otherwise, plant based is good, but you just have to pay more attention to getting enough protein. You really do. We see a lot of people who are 100 percent plant based when we do some of the bioimpedance testing that they need more protein. It's an easy thing to neglect. You know, sometimes we forget. And I would say, you know, the healthy fats, not, not low fat, really healthy fat, but here's what you don't want a lot of.

Sugars, refined sugars, refined starches, um, the obvious that we know, but that if we implement it, our health, completely implemented, our health would just improve dramatically. That would be, is like, create that solid good foundation. Alcohol, yes, there's a lot of research now that no alcohol, is good, but there's also the idea of like, do I want to live in it?

If I love wine, am I going to really do that? Is that realistic? Is that going to make me feel so deprived or rather can I have it with my meal? So the impact of the alcohol and the impact on the blood sugar levels is minimized, which is what I would recommend for most people. Unless they don't drink, then it's very easy not to drink.

Um, but sugar is important, really controlling. Uh, sugar and keeping it to fruits, not fruit juices, you know, dates, not cake, et cetera, et cetera. Keeping that really low. Caffeine, I would do in moderation and also which times of the day. If you remember that caffeine intake to take six hours to eliminate half of the caffeine you've ingested, then think that if you have something at four o'clock in the afternoon, even, even a green tea, 50 percent of that caffeine is still in your blood at 10 o'clock at night.

And that's a long shelf life in your body of caffeine. So again, if you're a constitution in Ayurveda, we call it the kapha constitution, which is very earthy. They tend to be more round. I became a little more kapha as I got older. The nervous system is quite grounded, you know, they can handle a little bit more caffeine without it affecting their sleep.

Still, you should be very careful because even though you think it's not affecting your sleep, it affects the deeper states of sleep, the REM sleep and the deep sleep. So, caffeine is something to watch out for. And in the morning, instead of starting with a cup of coffee, which a lot of biohackers do, I feel No, wait, start with fitness, start with a sunshine, start with, you know, exercise of some kind and put a little bit of something in your food, in your belly before you take that shot of coffee, because it really hits the adrenals hard.

And we know the adrenals staying strong, robust and healthy impacts aging impacts our health. Those are the foundations for me. Then I would add. Try not to eat all the time, like set a window 12 hours minimum, I mean, you know, within those 12 hours, you can have your three meals, two meals, whatever works for you, four meals, but don't snack all day, don't eat at any hour, if you get up to use the bathroom, I'll get a snack, like give the body a rest and we know now with the intermittent fasting and with OMAD, although OMAD is controversial for some, um, one meal a day, just pay attention not to graze all the time.

We were told more meals is better. That's actually not true. It never made sense, you know, um, to, to keep the digestive system on all the time. We don't do that with Anything. So that would be the next layer to start refining and then when is best for me, you know, then we refine. Okay, for me, I'm a morning person.

It's better if I eat from here to here. This is my 12 hour or 10 hour window. Then the third layer is personalize it. Get some testing, check your microbiome, find out what things you're missing, optimize your microbiome. How do you do that? Well, fiber, plant fiber, prebiotics versus probiotics, fermented foods.

So then you're starting to increase and be more specific. And if you do food allergy testing, food sensitivity testing, they're not the same. You can take it all. to a much more refined, much more personalized level. And we do all of this that I'm speaking about at Camalaya. Not just the test, but the foundational, that's our Camalaya cuisine, then a more specific cuisine that reduces inflammation, that's our detox cuisine.

And then we can do testing for the microbiome, and we can do testing for your food allergies. And then we can also do genetic testing. But some people need certain supplements, literally, in order to function well. And most of us never know it. Most people will never not. So, so there are layers of refinement, but if you start up here and you don't have a good foundation, I just think it's a waste of time, energy, and money.

Set the parameters of a good foundation and then take it further, you know? Yeah, absolutely. Love that. Yeah, absolutely. I did a, um, course last year on longevity and it all, this is all part of that. And I, I couldn't agree more and, um, yeah, the foundations, if we don't get that right. And it's an interesting one because, um, I am a wine lover, coffee lover and wine lover and, uh, decided not because sleep and alcohol for me does not work.

So I decided not to drink this year. And when I don't drink wine, I often feel like chocolate for some reason. I feel like I need the sugar and I'm not really normally a sugar person. So I decided to get rid of that as well, just for one month, just to kind of get used to it. And, um, I'm just a all or nothing personality.

That's just what works for me. I know that's not for everyone. And, um, I feel great. Cause it's, it's often just. And I realize this every time I do a detox is I often eat just because I'm bored or I procrastinate something that I need to do. So it's really interesting to kind of just try different things and say, oh, that actually, because I, when I do my detoxes, I also have to be really restrict with my phone because I want that dopamine hit.

So then I have to put that a little bit of a rule around that as well. So it's just fun to experiment and I think that's what makes it interesting because we are all different and unique and we. We'll have to go on our own journey. Yes. I used to be an all or nothing person and I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all, at all.

However, some people feel too deprived or like it's just too much. And so some people prefer to do little by little incrementally. I don't know how I switched, but I didn't try to switch. And now I've become an incremental person. How did, well, I don't know. I don't know. I kind of like my all or nothing person.

I got rapid changes, you know, but whatever, it's part of whatever shifts I've gone through. And, um, I think it's exactly what you're saying. You, you discover yourself, you learn about yourself, what works for you, what doesn't work for you. If you're a morning person, if you're an evening person, et cetera, et cetera, you might not struggle with sleep.

You struggle with exercise. Someone else might struggle with sleep, but not with it. So, I mean, we're all. different, and we have to find our way. But I do think nutrition has the potential to have such a huge impact on our entire life, on our moods, on our mental health, on our emotional state. Of course, physical vitality.

It's something to really, really pay attention to. I know it's huge for many people, but there is a lot of confusing information. So that's why I prefer start with the foundations and then start getting specific, you know, for yourself. Absolutely love that. Talking about morning ritual, I would love to know, have you got a morning ritual?

I have to be very honest, my morning ritual since COVID, I would say, is not as stable as it was before COVID. But I will tell you what I move into and then move out of, move into and then move out of. I love, love, love starting my day with either oolong or green tea. I don't do green tea much now in the morning, it used to be, but oolong, which is a little bit gentler.

It's a little bit It's like a Sauvignon versus a, uh, which would be the green tea versus a Chardonnay, which is a little more buttery. It's like that, you know? So with an Oolong, which has a little bit of caffeine, but when you do it the Chinese way, um, which is like washes, you don't let it steep for very long.

It's very low level. Over a long period of time that you're getting that caffeine. I like to listen to the sound of birds, which I can in my garden and be in the garden. And for those of you don't, don't know, literally just having bird song, even if you have it as a recording, it brings optimism and hope and joy.

And that's a wonderful feeling. I just love it. I grew up in nature as a little girl. So hearing birds in the morning and hearing the waking up of nature is something that is to me just thrilling. I would say three out of four days a week, I will go to morning chants. John is very, very regular. I feel badly when I can't be on time.

I have a really hard time getting there really. It starts at 645 and I'm just Uh, for some reason I'm, I'm not, I used to, as I told you, I used to be like clippity clip clip all or nothing. And I was like all in and I wouldn't miss anything. Um, but right now it's a little soft, but I love, love starting my day with that kind of communion, nature communion with myself, not busyness, but really communion.

And so if I don't go to the chanting and. prayers, and it's very uplifting to me. Then I'll read something inspirational. Sometimes it's just a quote. Sometimes it's a book I'm reading that is on a vein like that. At the moment, I'm reading a book on breathing, and it's scientific, but it's just reinvigorating for me, my breathing practices, um, which I do any time of day.

I can just stop and do that. So yeah, I tend to start slow. I don't, you know, some people like, Whoa, go right into their cold plans or go right into a jog. I tend to start a little bit more in communion and then gear up from that. I do check my phone within that hour, but towards the latter part, let's say after half an hour or 45 minutes because of the time zone, I have a lot of people who contact me that is both business, friends, family, sisters, that it's the time when I can and whereas at night I often it's like I don't want anything new coming to my head.

I'm turning everything down. So that usually happens after 45 minutes or an hour. I'll check her messages. Love that. Love that. Love that. Thank you for sharing that. Have you, I know this is a very difficult question for someone who reads so much, but have you got a favorite nonfiction book? I will tell you a book that had a huge, there were two books that had a big, big impact on me when I had that burnout, right?

The Adrenal Exhaustion. And this was in 2003. One was called The Field by Lynne McTaggart. And she's a scientific writer who gathered research from scientists all over the world and proposed a theory, a field of consciousness that we are influenced by, that we influence and are influenced by. And as she approached it from a scientific model, but it's a very non scientific.

it's more physics, um, outcome, but it's so approachable. And of course, it appealed to me because of qigong and traditional Chinese medicine and yoga and chakras and energy body and meridians, which are very inexplicable in the Western medical model or Western scientific model, but very real if you've ever experienced it.

So it's, It's a book that kind of bridges those two worlds and I just found it fascinating and my alma mater, Princeton University, in her book she mentions research they did on intention and humans setting intentions to affect a computer and affecting the computer. I mean something they never thought would be possible and that just blew my mind.

So the power of intention. You know is very strongly verified by that book. It's her first book. She's written others. She's written another one called The Intention, I think. But anyway, The Fields was the first one. And the other book I think everyone will be familiar with is called, um, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.

And, uh, it really, I would wake up very early, 3, 3. 30, and I'd have my cup of green tea. And I would read that book for about an hour and then I'd go and hike for about an hour and a half during that time. But it was a hike that was really, I did it gently in nature and was amazing. And that book would start my morning.

So those two are favorites. As I said, right now I'm reading, um, Breath or Breathe. I think it's Breath by James Nestor. I highly recommend it. Brilliant book. Absolutely. I love that. I haven't, uh, I read the power of now, but I think it's a book that needs to be reread many times in different stages of our life for sure.

So reminded me to go back to that one, but the field I never heard of. So I'm super excited by getting that. And, uh, and everyone who's listening always write to me saying that they love all the recommendations. So thank you. Thank you so much. Wow. This has been so inspiring. I've just got one more question and that is knowing.

Like, you have so much wisdom and so much experience. What kind of advice would you give to your younger self, knowing what you know now? I think I would hug myself and say, be gentle. Be gentle. It's okay. You're going to be fine. I definitely have had throughout my life, perfectionistic tendencies. And if you understand psychologically perfectionism, then you know, it's, it's a pretty brutal way to treat yourself because it's not real, you might be able to achieve near perfection with engineering, you know, or with objects, you know, straight line, et cetera, but not with humans.

Not with humans. It's not really achievable, and it is cruel in a way, and I never thought of myself as being cruel with myself, but I think I really, really, really was always trying so hard to do it right, to get it right, to do the best I could possibly do it. And I think in some ways, It's wonderful because you do strive for excellence.

Striving for excellence is fine. Striving for perfection is different. So I would, I would say that to myself. And I said, just be, you're going to be able to do everything you want. Slow down, just be a little gentle with yourself. You know, it's okay. You'll be able to do. I always had also eyes bigger than my stomach, as I mentioned.

So there was this, not a rush, but trying to do everything at once, not saying I can do all of this, but not all at the same time, I would take extra courses, you know, in high school and extra courses in university and extra courses, getting a master's degree. So I was always really, really full on. And, um, And I've seen that throughout my life.

So I would say that to myself and develop a better habit around pacing. It's not a sprint. This is a really big marathon. You got to pace. And those are the two things, be gentle with yourself and peace yourself. I love that. That's the most beautiful way of ending this incredibly inspiring conversation.

Thank you so much. First, for taking your time. I know you have a very full life and lots happening. So thank you for taking your time, but also for, for creating Kamalaya. I really hope everyone listening will put that on their vision board to one day visit because I've. Truly believe it's a remarkable place.

And I think sometimes when we think health retreat, we think that's like more to achieve and more to do. But I really, truly feel when you get there with the nature, the food and the humans there is just unbelievably inspiring and nurturing and it's, I love it. So one of my dreams. Is to, as you know, probably is to one day have a retreat for the dream life community.

So that's, I'm definitely going to make that happen. Not this year, but soon. Let's make that happen together. And I'm really looking forward to you returning to Kamalai and also seeing you again, hopefully in March, but whenever in this coming year, in the next 12 months, I really look forward to seeing you again.

And thank you, Kristina. Thank you so much. A pleasure to share with you because I know also that you dream and you create and you envision and you're inspiring so many people all over the world. And it's a, it's a privilege for, for me to have this conversation with you and share with you. Thank you so much.

Oh, wow. How inspiring is Karina? I hope you will now add another dream to your list and go to Kamalaya one day. It's absolutely amazing there and so worth going. I can't wait to hear what you think about this episode. Please share in the Dreamlife Facebook group. I will link to it in the show notes. If you are not already in that Facebook group, as always, I'll be back on Monday for a Monday morning motivational podcast episode.

I'll see you then.

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