In this episode, we discuss:
- The paradox of our digital world
- Our essential need for in-person connection
- The transformative potential of live events
- The role of celebration and retreat in our lives
- Adapt Live event at Snowbird in September
- The importance of opening yourself up to the unexpected
- Bee The Wellness website
- Study on “Loneliness and Social Isolation During the COVID-19 Pandemic”
- Join us in person at Snowbird Resort this Labor Day weekend. Go to Kresser.co/LiveEvent to learn more and join the presale list.
- Start your Functional Medicine training this spring. Enrollment opens on April 8th. Get on the interest list at Kresser.co/PTP
Hey, everybody, Chris Kresser here. Welcome to another episode of Revolution Health Radio. This week, I’m excited to be talking with Adam and Vanessa Lambert, founders of Bee The Wellness, a collective that offers transformative coaching and retreats to purpose-driven humans.
This is one of my favorite episodes that I’ve ever recorded, and I think it is so timely. Over the last couple of years, as you all know, we’ve been locked down and isolated and alienated from our communities, and I think we’ve suffered tremendously from that, and are only now starting to fully understand the impacts of this. There are many studies that have been published over the past several months documenting the increase in loneliness, anxiety, depression, social isolation and listing the very real physiological, psychological, emotional, and, I would argue, even spiritual effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our health and well-being. As human beings, we are hardwired for social connection and community and for that to happen in person.
There is no doubt that the conveniences of the digital world have been extremely beneficial for many of us, myself included, and [that] the digital connectivity we have really helped us get through the pandemic in ways that would have been almost impossible without that. So I’m not coming to this from the perspective of a neo-Luddite. I do think it is still very important to recognize and acknowledge our essential human need for in-person connection. And that’s what this show is really about.
We also discuss the role of retreat in our lives and how powerful that can be and what a catalyst it can be for transformation and change when you intentionally set aside time for yourself, for your own health and well-being, and to gather with people who share similar values, intentions, and ideals. You have this shared experience in, often, a wilderness or nature-like setting, [and] that is one of the most powerful and transformative things that we can do as human beings. I talk with Adam and Vanessa about my own long history with retreats of various kinds, and living at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur for a couple of years is an interesting story behind that, [which] I share in the episode. I think the more connected we become digitally, the more important all these things are, and that’s, of course, especially true in the post-COVID era. So, again, this was one of the most fun podcast episodes I’ve ever recorded, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Chris Kresser: Adam and Vanessa, welcome to the show. It’s such a pleasure to have you on.
Vanessa Lambert: Thanks for having us. It’s a pleasure to be with you.
Adam Lambert: I’m looking forward to it.
Chris Kresser: So the irony for me is not lost that we’re having this conversation over Zoom and the topic of the conversation is the increasing importance in [the] relevance of and necessity of in-person connection, and also retreat. This concept of taking time out of your normal routine and schedule to gather together in person as a community. And we’re having this conversation on Zoom.
Vanessa Lambert: Well, we appreciate the technology, right? Has it not served us so well in the last couple of years? But it’s time to break the cycle.
The Paradox of Our Digital World
Chris Kresser: It points to the dichotomy of our current existence. Where we have this technology, it has enabled an incredible flexibility and quality of life for many people. Personally, I was able to leave the Bay Area and move to Park City, Utah, essentially with no interruption whatsoever to my work. I could be visiting you in Wyoming, I could be in Australia, I could be in South America, and I probably wouldn’t want to be working in all those amazing places, but if I wanted to, I could be, and it wouldn’t matter. That’s amazing [and I have] lots of gratitude and appreciation for that. But there’s a flip side, or a dark side, to all this digital online connectivity. I know you two have been exploring this and shining the light on the basic hardwired human need for in-person connection.
Adam Lambert: One of the things that come along with everything that you just described about how amazing this digital world and our ability to work from anywhere is, [is] that [it] also means that we have the ability to work from anywhere. And when we can, we typically do. So where[as], in the past, we would go into a physical office somewhere and then we would return home, there was a physical separation between your work and personal life that was a little bit easier to maintain. Once you have the digital leash and it’s been extended, and it’s allowed you to get out into the world and do these things, it becomes really incumbent upon the individual to be setting these boundaries and creating this time and space for themselves. And that’s something that we found people have an easier time doing if it’s an event. So [saying], “I’m going to go somewhere and do this thing where I’m disconnecting,” is a great way to get people practicing [that behavior]. I don’t want to say that it’s like an addiction, but there’s some sort of neurosis around the digital connection that we have to actually break frequently in order to escape.
Chris Kresser: I’ll say it’s an addiction. I’ll go ahead and say it. This is an area where I’ve done a ton of research, and it’s a big focus for me. I do think it is an addiction, or it certainly meets a lot of the same criteria as many other addictions do. I think people who have suffered from a fairly extreme relationship with digital technology will talk about it in those terms and experience it in that way. I totally agree about the blurring of boundaries that’s occurred over time. The pressure is just pushing it further and further, to the point where you have a whole segment of the population that’s just gleeful and almost giddy about Elon Musk’s Neuralink technology, where you won’t even have to pick up your phone anymore. It will just be piped directly into your brain, so you’ll never, ever have to miss an email or [a] like of your Instagram posts, or whatever.
I have a personal anecdote of this where I saw it happen with my dad. I remember when I was growing up, my dad worked in an office, and he would drive home and he would listen to the Dodgers game on the radio. He liked baseball, and it was just super relaxing for him. Listening to a baseball game on the radio is second in terms of pacing only to watching a baseball game on TV. I remember you could hear Vin Scully, and you could just hear people whistling in the background, and there would be long pauses and silence. And when he got home, he was chilled out. It was that buffer between work and getting home and seeing his family. I distinctly remember when he got a cellular phone installed in his car, and I’m using that term not because I’m old, although I am getting older, but because that’s what they called it then, right?
Vanessa Lambert: Right.
Chris Kresser: It was like a brick. It looked like something you’d see someone in the military take out of a briefcase, and it had a long cord, and it was wired into the car. It wasn’t really a full[y] mobile phone. I think it was connected to the antenna. But what happened [was], instead of leaving work and listening to the baseball game on the way home, he would leave work and keep working. He would be on the phone and, I still remember to this day, we’d be like, “What’s that sound?” And then we’d be like, “Oh, that’s dad just idling in the car in the driveway still talking on the phone, work[ing].” And then he’d come in the house and he’d be in a totally different mood than when he was listening to the baseball game on the way home. That’s kind of an older school example. But I think it’s emblematic of what’s happening to us now but amplified by a hundred-fold.
Vanessa Lambert: It’s so true. I think the point is that you have to almost fight for your separation, for your time apart. And not only just to separate from all that, but to actually then turn the corner and connect with people in real life and have real connection [and] real meaningful conversation. The interesting thing that’s happened [in] the last couple of years is that it’s ratcheted up the in-person awkwardness people feel. If you’re already a little shy or you tend to be a bit of an introvert, [the] last two years [have] really pushed you into that space. So there is a deep, deep calling for all of us to ratchet ourselves out of those corners and out of those spaces and learn the techniques of connection again.
I think that’s really what Adam and I have been so dedicated to over the last 10 years of running events, which is so crazy to think that we’ve been doing it for that long, is that we have to practice being with each other. And when you do that, the return on investment is so incredible. But it doesn’t always come naturally, and it doesn’t always come without you making an effort, which was what Adam was saying earlier. You have to actually take the time, make the investment, put it on the calendar, and fight for those days. “By hell or high water, I’m going to make this connection with real people happen.”
Our Essential Need for In-Person Connection
Chris Kresser: That’s something I’ve talked about for a long time in different contexts, like digital detox. Sundays in our family are screen-free day[s], and we like to have people over and connect in the flesh. I go on retreats several times a year, or sometimes I have at least one trip a year where I go and just carve out some time for myself. This is a little bit different than the community and connection thing that we’re talking about, but actually, it feels necessary [in order] for me to recharge and even be able to want to do that. One of the blessings of my job over the last several years, [though] less so in the last two years, of course, was that I would speak and participate in a lot of different events. Often as a speaker, sometimes as a panelist, sometimes as a participant. We would often see the same people or some of the same people at those events. So you not only are experiencing the connection and sense of community that comes from being with a group of people who share similar values and interests, but you’re also developing relationships over time with these people [who] you get to know in this context. And that’s a really rich and meaningful experience for human beings.
We talk a lot about the ancestral diet and lifestyle. We talk about food, like a Paleo or primal type of diet, and getting eight hours of sleep and sleeping in a dark environment and a cool space because that’s what our bodies are hardwired for. We talk about physical activity, 10,000 steps a day. But what’s often left out of that conversation is that up until very recently, the ancestral template for human beings was living in close-knit tribal social groups, not in individual nuclear families where we’re really isolated from other people outside of our own family, or in some cases, living alone. We can go days without really interacting in a meaningful way with other people. To me, that’s one of the biggest aspects of [the] mismatch between our modern world and what our genes and our biology are set up for.
Adam Lambert: I couldn’t agree more. You probably actually know who, somebody wrote a book, I think it may have been called [The Human Zoo]?
Chris Kresser: Yeah.
Adam Lambert: That’s just how I think about this. We’re so isolated in comparison to what we were doing 300 years ago, [and] even less in some areas of the world. And then, [when] you stack [that] on top of this forced separation of the pandemic and all the things that go along with it, it’s really pushed us into this severe isolation. I’m sure that we’re not even fully aware of just how much of an impact the last two years have had on us.
We’re starting to see some of the stuff in school kids and things that are easier to observe. Personally, I tend to be a bit of an introvert; I tend to be a little bit socially awkward. I tend to not be the first person to walk into a room full of people and introduce myself, and I haven’t done that [in a while]. I used to have to force myself into it, and then it all worked out, and I have not done that in a while. So it’s like, “What is that triggering in me? What sort of weird neuroses am I developing now around this?” We’ll find out because we’re about to go to Peru.
Vanessa Lambert: We’ll know; we’ll find out tomorrow.
Join us in person at Snowbird Resort this Labor Day weekend. You won’t come down the mountain the same person you were when you arrived. #chriskresser #AdaptLive #community
Chris Kresser: Well, report back. It’s very true, and I think that’s the leveling function that a tribal way of living almost enforces, right? Where you naturally have people in any social group [who] are more extroverted, and then you’ll have others [who] are more introverted. But in a social group context, that gets leveled out a little bit because the introverts are almost required [to] participate and engage with other people and there’s not really an option of just completely checking out. Whereas [in] the last two years, not only has there been an option for doing that, [it’s] been essentially mandated in some places, and even celebrated like [it’s] what we should be doing. [There’s been the implication that] it’s dangerous to go out and connect with other people because other people are virus carriers.
I don’t say that with any sense of judgment of people who are immunocompromised and who understandably and appropriately needed to take more precaution[s]. This is not a judgment in any way. It’s just pointing to the unintended consequences of that kind of isolation. And we don’t really know yet what those will be. We actually know a fair amount already, and it’s not good. I’ve seen lots of papers. There’s a paper from 2020 called “Loneliness and Social Isolation During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” which document[s] increases in anxiety, depression, [and] mental and behavioral disorders, and this is in adults. It’s even more pronounced in kids and young adults who really need that feeling of connection and [of] being part of something even more.
Chris Kresser: We’ve got studies showing that loneliness is increasing; suicidal ideation [and] actual suicide attempts [are increasing]. It’s pretty intense when you start reading the literature about this. This is one of the reasons behind my desire to do our Adapt Live event this fall at the Snowbird resort in Utah with your support and collaboration. I’m super excited about that because [I’ve] loved working with you so far, and [you have] 10 years of experience doing exactly the kind of event that we’re going to be doing here. We share a lot of the same values and ideas about the transformative and healing nature of this kind of event. Having just watched this go down as a clinician over the past couple [of] years and see[ing] how it’s impacting people’s mental, emotional, and even spiritual health, I’m really excited to get together with people and just celebrate this incredible life that we get to live. In person.
Vanessa Lambert: It was so fun in our initial conversation with you because I almost feel like if you didn’t even speak, we would have understood what you wanted. What you wanted to create. This symbiosis between what we stand for is so apparent. But I think it’s really important for your audience to understand that it takes something for someone like you to put on an event like this. You have a thriving business, several businesses. [You have] several arms of what you’re creating in the world, and to carve out the niche and broadcast your energy into creating an event, it’s no small undertaking. I think that it’s really, really important for your audience to understand the level of commitment you have to really giving a valiant effort toward solving this displacement we have with each other.
I want people out there to really understand running events of this level and what it takes—the curation, and obviously, the expense, and all of that. It’s such a big undertaking. So, I want to encourage your audience to make it happen. Get yourself to this event because it’s so, so important to support the thought leaders and the people in our community [who] are taking an actual stand. Like [a] “put your money where your mouth is” kind of stand to bring us together and give us [an] opportunity to have that meaningful connection that we are so deeply longing for.
Chris Kresser: It’s so important. I have been reflecting a lot lately on the most transformative and healing experiences I’ve had in my life. Anyone who’s been listening to my podcast for a while is familiar with my own personal story and how I suffered from an extremely debilitating, complex chronic illness that took me basically to the curb. I spent two years curled up in a ball on the floor and reached a very deep, dark place where I didn’t know if I even wanted to go on. One of the things that brought me through that experience was community. Two things. The two things [in] all the transformative and healing experiences that I had that helped me get through that period of my life, one was community, and two was nature. Outdoor. [The experiences had] some kind of connection with the outdoor space, and almost always were happening together [with others]. I went to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur for a workshop, and then I ended up staying there for two years.
Vanessa Lambert: It’s not a bad spot.
Chris Kresser: This is a funny story where I thought I was going there for just a weekend seminar, and I got there, and I was absolutely blown away. Anyone who’s been to Big Sur, in general, and Esalen, specifically, knows what I’m talking about. It’s one of the most breathtaking places in the world. There was that immediate deep connection to the natural world there, and the Pacific Ocean swells slamming up against these dramatic cliffs and sitting in the natural hot springs on those cliffs watching whales migrate from Alaska down to [Mexico]. You couldn’t make it up. It’s just this incredibly inspiring place. But more than that, there was an incredible, inspiring, deeply engaged community of people who were all there to learn more about themselves and to grow and evolve. Being in that shared environment where people have that intention and are doing that in connection with the land and are doing it together was, for sure, one of the most powerful experiences in my life. [So much so] that, at the end of the two-day weekend, I was looking around for a place to stay there. And the universe made it possible. There was someone who had signed on for a one-year work position who didn’t show up. And I was like, “I’m available. I’ll take that.”
Vanessa Lambert: “I can start now.”
Chris Kresser: “I can start now. When do you need me?” So I worked as a gate guard at Esalen. I was the guy who checked you in when you came down for your seminar, and I worked four days a week [with] one night shift. So I had three full days off to just be there on the land or go surfing down the coast, and it was really a turning point for me in that whole journey back to health. So I’ve wanted to do something like this event for a long time because I know, deep in my cells, how powerful experiences like that can be. When I was at Esalen for two years, I saw people every week and weekend come in, and then I saw them as they were leaving, and they look[ed] like different people every time.
The Transformative Potential of Live Events
Adam Lambert: That’s one of the things that we’ve just been so fortunate to witness time and time again with taking groups all over the world. It’s absolutely remarkable. We get asked frequently, “What is the thing that somebody is going to get from your experience?” And it’s really hard to say what the one thing is because, ultimately, it’s different for everyone. It’s that container that you just described—the intentional community coming together, like-minded enough that they all got attracted to [this] thing and [the] whole thing being held in nature. That allows for these experiences to unfold and these changes to happen in people. And you just don’t know what it’s going to be. We’re going back to Peru, where I’m reminded of [a past] time, maybe 2018, where we were getting ready to summit the Salkantay Pass, which is like 15,200-something feet. It’s higher than most people have been, and it’s a long and arduous journey to get there. We get to the top, and one of our longtime clients, who’s been all over the world with us, crests over the top and just bursts into tears. And the words that she said stuck with me. She said, “If I can do this, what can’t I do?” And for her, that was it.
This was very physically challenging, [and] she didn’t say anything about fear or trepidation about being able to make it or anything, but clearly inside, [there was] something she was holding on to that she was able to release in that moment. You just never know. You never know what people are dealing with, and you never know what that real deep, dark demon is that the right container can just release. Snowbird is a perfect example of a place that can elicit that. We have the physical challenges of altitude and elevation. We have the beauty of Snowbird. Of the remarkable place that it is. And then this container of people coming together in a celebratory fashion, looking to get back together, get out there, [and] see what they can squeeze out of this experience. And we’re just going to watch them. This is something that you’ll get to see. And you probably experienced it at Esalen, [but] you just watch the lights come on one by one over the course of the weekend. And you’re like, “Here we are.”
Vanessa Lambert: We always laugh because there’s always this moment in the retreat where [we see] what Adam is saying. The energy just shifts and everybody truly has arrived. And you’re like, “Alright. Now, we’re here; now we’re together.” That’s always such a special moment. Because everyone comes in like, “What are we doing and where are we going?” But then you settle in and you harmonize the spirit of the experience, and then all of a sudden, you have a group aura. You all merge your energy field together. And just like [with] anything, you’re stronger together than separate. As that aura merges and people start to feel the build of the energy, they suddenly realize, “Oh, I’m part of something. I am part of something really, really important. This isn’t the Lone Ranger show anymore. I actually have a family, a community, people [who] I can look to my right and my left, and feel like I matter.” There’s always that moment in the retreat and in the experience where that energy just takes the group and you [realize], “This is why we do events. This is why we’ve spent the last decade creating opportunit[ies] for that moment. It’s just really beautiful.
The Role of Celebration and Retreat in Our Lives
Chris Kresser: [It’s] so important, and I’d love to highlight a couple [of] things about that. Going back to this concept of celebration. I think that’s underrated. As human beings, I think it’s even deeper than cultural. We have an inherent negativity bias as humans. This has been documented by social psychologists and evolutionary biologists and anthropologists where, in order to survive in our ancestral environment, we constantly had to be on the lookout for bad stuff. And if we weren’t, we didn’t survive and pass [down] our genes. So our descendants are the ones who were super aware of all the bad things that could happen.
Vanessa Lambert: They were not the party people.
Chris Kresser: No, they were not the ones who were like, “Woohoo, yeah, okay.” Lion just comes up and eats them. They’re done. So they were the ones who were constantly scanning the horizon for the predator [and] thinking about the bad things that could happen. And that’s great in that kind of environment. But there’s obviously a downside to that. In my work with patients, one of the things I learned early on was the importance of tracking symptom improvement. Because what inevitably would happen if we didn’t do that was somebody would come in [and] they’d have 120 symptoms, and after a month of working with them, it would be down to 20. But they would inevitably focus on the 20 that weren’t better. And again, this is no judgment. This is, I think, natural. This is part of the way our brains work. But I think it’s really important to pay attention to and actively celebrate what’s great about life and what is working well, and what is fulfilling and rewarding and meaningful.
One of my intentions behind this retreat is [that] the last two years have been really effing hard on so many different levels, right? For a lot of people physically, if they got [COVID-19] and had a hard experience, being on lockdown, a lot of people have gone through really tough times financially; a lot of people have had challenges with health. I’m sure you’ve seen the statistics on the average weight gain during the pandemic. Just being at home, it’s a lot harder. I think it’s time to have some fun.
Vanessa Lambert: Hallelujah.
Chris Kresser: I think it’s time to actually actively cultivate pleasure and create joyful and pleasurable experiences. We’ve got such a puritanical hang-up about that in our culture, but that’s essential to being human, having that experience of pleasure, the experience of joy, celebrating life, and also particularly doing that in a community of people who have that same orientation and are there for the same reason. It’s so powerful, and I think that’s part of what contributes to that group aura that you’re talking about.
Vanessa Lambert: 100 percent. We long for a tapestry of experience, yet we tend to keep it only in one part of the color wheel. We know the hedonic treadmill is a thing, right? We are novelty-seeking beings, yet we don’t give ourselves an opportunity to often go and seek these other pieces of novelty. We keep it in the same sect. We know this is important to us, [that] it’s part of our innate nature to want to find new experiences and create new opportunit[ies] for expansion. But we somehow get pigeonholed into these certain sects of our life. So I think we’re with you. That’s why, even though we’ve had to literally jump through a million hoops to get our group to Peru tomorrow, we’re doing it.
Chris Kresser: That’s awesome.
Vanessa Lambert: Because at some point, you have to just say, “I’m going to take a stand, I’m going to jump through the hoops, I’m going to do whatever to get us back out there and get us back on that mountain and breathe in that ancient Andes air and declare “This is my life and I’m going to live it.”
Chris Kresser: Well, the first step in Joseph Campbell’s “[The] Hero’s Journey” is the call to adventure right? This is the call that we’re heeding, and it’s so important, now more than ever. We can’t let this pandemic, as real as it was, [and] as serious as the effects of it were and continue to be, we can’t let it keep us down.
Vanessa Lambert: And define us.
Chris Kresser: Exactly. We have to rise above it, and that doesn’t mean we put our heads in the sand and don’t pay attention to things we need to pay attention to. But it means that we are so much more as human beings than these circumstances of our life, and there’s so much more in terms of what’s possible in life. And that container of a retreat, of stepping outside of our day-to-day life and actually connecting in person in the shared experience of people who also have this intention, is something that can lift us out of the place that we’ve been stuck.
Vanessa Lambert: Absolutely. Even if you just think about the fact that you would be showing up to an event where yourself (Chris), you (Adam), myself, your team, our team—there are probably 10 of us at this point working on this project. Ten people who are projecting the energy out to just say, “We want people to come and remember how much they love their lives and how beautiful our community is, and how cared for they are.” Even if you just went to an event because that projection existed, it would be a worthwhile endeavor. But with this event, you’re coming to all these amazing teachers and opportunities to learn from each other and hike and eat incredible food, and there’s so much wrapped up into it that it’s such an opportunity for your community to come home and celebrate each other.
The Adapt Live Event at Snowbird Resort
Chris Kresser: I want to talk a little bit about what you don’t do at your events and what we’re not going to do at this event. Because I think it’s important. When I was thinking about this event a couple [of] years ago when we first started planning this, it was a different thing. It was going to be more of a conference for our professional community. The ADAPT trained practitioners and the ADAPT health coach folks, and there was going to be continuing education and a number of different faculty members from both of the programs presenting, and I love that [type of event]. I’ve been to Paleo f(x), [and] I’ve been to Ancestral Health Symposium. I’ve been to lots of events like that, and they’re really rewarding. I always learn a lot, [and] there’s a great chance to connect with people.
But over the past couple of years, after going through the pandemic, it became really clear to me that’s not what I wanted for this event. I didn’t want it to be about more information, I didn’t want it to be about continuing education and credits, and I didn’t want to be inside in a conference room with no windows for eight hours a day, [while] one of the most beautiful canyons in the entire world [is] right outside the door of the hotel venue. I know that your events and this event that we’re planning [are] about an experience. It’s about curating an experience for people, and it’s not about information and learning more facts and being inside a lot of the time. So talk a little bit about the general way that you approach events and how that unfolds.
Adam Lambert: One of the things [is that] in my previous life, I worked for the fire department. I was a fireman for 22 years, and that entire thing can be explained by death by PowerPoint. Everything is directed. There’s somebody [who’s] talking, and everyone else is listening and then taking action. And that has never worked for me as a way of enjoying anything and really even learning anything. So when we first started running retreats, that was a core ethos. There are no presentations. We’re not going to get up and PowerPoint something and whiteboard this for people. The way that we want to present information and the way that we want to share what we’re up to in the ethos and the things that we think are important is really through conversation and through experience.
We take people, and we go on walks, and we intermix the content providers, for lack of a better term. The teachers, the presenters. We intermix them in the social group, and what you find is that a hike or a walk is a perfect way to do this. You get out [and] everybody knows what’s going on. If we were to go on a hike, pretty much everyone who knows Chris Kresser is going to have some idea of what you’re up to. We don’t need to hear you present, “This is what I think about all this stuff. Here [are] the nine super toxic things to avoid.”
But what we could do is [have] somebody walk up and, as you’re sharing some aspect of the trail for one or two minutes, they ask you a question that’s really specific and meaningful to them. In [those] two minutes, they’re going to get more out of the interaction than [they] would [from] three hours of a presentation. Conceptually, that’s what we try to do. We try to intermix these things; we try to make it about the experience that we’re having. And the knowledge transfer component of it is a happy accident, frequently. It’s about the connection, it’s about the experience, and then something is going to pass between you that’s going to be more important than you would ever get from reading a book or listening to a presentation.
Chris Kresser: Right, and maybe not even between them and me. Maybe between them and someone else they meet at the event that they had no idea they were going to meet. It was a completely accidental connection that ends up becoming one of the most significant interactions they’ve ever had in their life. That’s what I saw happen at Esalen so often. All these serendipitous unpredictable connections and things that would come out of it. I think that’s exactly [it]. I love that.
The Importance of Opening Yourself Up to the Unexpected
Vanessa Lambert: We always use this term “leave room for the magic.” Because obviously, everything’s very highly curated. That’s something that we’ve always done and taken a lot of pride [in], is [that] there’s a lot of curation. But you as an attendee don’t really realize that. It feels so effortless and so natural. The curation is the undercurrent that’s holding [it together] or the bedrock of the event. But one of the things that we’ve always noticed is that if you do that [curation], and within that, you leave space with an expectation that there will be something magical that comes into that space, it always arrives. It’s something that I think Adam and I discovered early on in our days. For instance, some of our very first events were with your buddy and ours, Mark Sisson, out of Malibu. We took folks out paddleboarding. We were like, “This is going to be awesome.” But we always have this container of wonder[ing] what the magical thing that’s going to happen at [the] event is. And we take them out, and, sure enough, a pod of dolphins comes, and they’re swimming with us or swimming under our boards. They’re rolling over and making direct eye contact with us.
That was the most magical thing that anyone was going to take out of that experience was this deep, beautiful connection to nature and to the fact that something that incredible could happen to them. I think that’s something that we’ve always been very focused on as a company. Yes, there’s going to be amazing food, and there’s going to be amazing teachers, and you’re going to connect with people. But there’s going to be something that none of us even knew that makes the thing like, “Holy cow, that was the magic.”
Adam Lambert: It makes the thing, the thing.
Chris Kresser: I can say that unequivocally, that’s the story of my life, basically.
Vanessa Lambert: That’s your next book.
Chris Kresser: Everything that I sort of had a grand master plan for just didn’t happen. And then the most significant moments and changes and transformations were things that were not planned. For example, traveling around the world surfing, and getting sick. I didn’t plan that. I definitely did not plan that. But we wouldn’t be having this conversation if that hadn’t happened. And going to Esalen for a weekend workshop and staying there for two years. That was definitely not the plan. And it turned out that, in order to make that happen, a lot of stuff had to shift and fall away. But I was open to the possibility of that happening. Even my recent move to Utah wasn’t really planned. We’d come out here to ski for a few seasons, and we really liked it, but we weren’t thinking “Oh, we’re going to move there.” Then we came out here in the summer and had a magical experience. By the end of that time, we had started to look around for houses and put an offer on a house, and all of a sudden, we’re moving to Park City.
Vanessa Lambert: Surprise!
Chris Kresser: Throughout my whole life, I’ve tried to cultivate an openness to that kind of magic. We live in a culture that is so deeply dedicated to the rational mind, and the rational mind is an amazing power and force and tool that can be used in lots of different positive ways and some not positive ways. But there’s a lot more to being human than just the rational mind, and there’s a lot more that’s unseen than is seen. There’s a lot more that’s not fully understood by the rational mind than that is understood. So the way, for me, of understanding that is not trying to figure it out, but [rather] just putting myself in situations where I’m receptive and open to whatever might come from that.
Adam Lambert: 100 percent. That’s a really good way of putting that. There [are] so many different analogies you could make. I do a lot of strength and conditioning stuff. And you can try to articulate to someone all the reasons why their squat mechanics are the way that they are, and all the muscles and joints and angles that are involved that make it one way or the other. Or you can just have them squat. And they’re like, “Okay, it’s working. This is how it’s supposed to work.” I think it’s really an important point you’re making to just put yourself in the situations. Open up your mind and put yourself in the situations, and just be receptive to what comes. And this is really hard for me to do. My rational mind is on overdrive with overthinking things so frequently. But, I’ll tell you, for anyone who’s listening who that might resonate with, who just cannot get out of their own way in thinking their thoughts, the reward is so sweet if you can find yourself, [and] find a way to this open, serendipitous, environment. In fact, there’s a book. What was that guy’s name, Vanessa? Christian Busch, I believe.
Vanessa Lambert: Yeah.
Adam Lambert: A guy wrote a book called The Serendipity Mindset or Project or something.
Vanessa Lambert: Mindset.
Adam Lambert: This is exactly what he talks about. He’s like, “Look, if your brain works this way, you need to start looking for these serendipitous moments,” and keep a journal. This is the kind of stuff that I think is really important. If you can crack into that, you’re going to be a dramatically happier person.
Chris Kresser: Absolutely. This is such a great conversation, and the greatest thing about it is it will be [a] continuing conversation over the next few months. It’s so fun to plan this event and think about all the different ways we’re going to curate this kind of experience and create a context where there is openness and opportunity [for] this kind of magic. If there’s one word, when I reflect on my life and what I’ve been passionate about and interested in and what I’ve tried to seek in every different part of my life, it’s transformation. That is what this experience is going to be about.
[It’s] the 10 of us sitting around every day thinking about ways that we can create a context that facilitates transformation. And going back to what you said, Adam, people might say, “Transformation of what?” And we would say, “I don’t know. It depends.”
Adam Lambert: Let’s find out.
Chris Kresser: That depends on you.
Vanessa Lambert: Good question.
Chris Kresser: That depends on what needs to be transformed. For one person, it may just be the pleasure and joy of being in [a] community in one of the most breathtaking and inspiring natural environments with like-minded people. And the pure pleasure of that can be transformative. Just giving yourself permission and making that a priority and setting that time aside and saying, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to leave my family, my obligations, [and] I’m going to spend the money on this.” Giving yourself that gift can, in and of itself, be a transformative experience. For somebody else, it might be getting clarity on something that has been holding them back that they’ve been wrestling with for years or decades or their entire life. We just don’t know. But you can’t know unless you put yourself in that environment and see what happens.
Vanessa Lambert: Absolutely. It’s interesting; as we’re conversing, I’m feeling the energy of the conversation, and it feels so good just to talk about it. Even just the three of us creating our own little group aura right now. I challenge the listener to actually feel into that. Feel what you are experiencing out of the conversation, and then imagine what that will feel like when you’re actually with the community.
Chris Kresser: x200.
Vanessa Lambert: Exactly. Just think about that. It’s a magnificent opportunity, and you can even feel it just in us talking about it. I’m so excited to actually be together and experience it. It’s going to be so amazing.
Chris Kresser: For sure. We are really, really excited, as I’m sure you can tell in listening to this, about this event. The good news is that you will be able to learn more about it and actually even register very soon. You can go to kresser.co/liveevent. We’ve got more details there about the event, the dates, what’s going to be happening there, [and] what it will cost. We sent out a save the date for this a few weeks back. Folks who are on my email list will know this because they got the email, and we received an incredible response. There’s so much enthusiasm and excitement about this event. I was skiing today and was riding up the chairlift, and I was talking to this person, and she’s like, “Your voice sounds really familiar.” Because I had my helmet and my goggles on, so she didn’t see my face, just my mouth or something. “Are you Chris Kresser?” I was like, “Yeah, yeah.” And we had a great conversation. She’s like, “I am so excited about your event in Snowbird.”
Vanessa Lambert: Oh, that’s awesome.
Adam Lambert: Amazing.
Chris Kresser: And here we are in Park City skiing, and she’s like, “I’m totally coming to your event. Where can I sign up?” So yeah, the interest is huge. But we are limiting spots. We don’t want this to be a thousand people. We won’t be able to cultivate the kind of experience that we’re going for with that many people. So there’ll be limited spots. So if you think you are interested and you want to come to this, I would definitely encourage you to sign up for the presale list, which you can do when you go to that link, kresser.co/liveevent. You put in your email address there, and then you will get early access to registration. It’s a good way of securing your spot. You also get access to the best pricing that we’re going to offer for the event, [the] best room options, and other things like that.
So if you’re listening to this and you’re feeling some tingling and you think you want to go, make sure to get on that presale list because that’s going to be the best chance to make sure that you have a spot. I think this [event] is going to sell out pretty quickly. I intuitively, in my gut, feel that, and also just having seen the response that we’ve gotten so far.
Vanessa Lambert: The people are ready.
Adam Lambert: The people are ready.
Chris Kresser: The people are ready. That’s right.
Vanessa Lambert: And we’re bringing it.
Chris Kresser: Yeah, we are, for sure.
Vanessa Lambert: Definitely.
Chris Kresser: Anything else to add before we finish up and before you head off to Peru for another transformative event?
Adam Lambert: I don’t think so. Just something that Vanessa said, it’s this feeling if you’re excited about what we’re talking about right now. Because I even started to feel this thing of, “Oh, but should I be excited?” It’s a weird thing, but I’m like, “Is it okay? Are we there yet? Are we at the point in life that we could be excited about something?” I think we are. I think we really need to lean into that. And everything you said about the presale list from our experience is 100 percent accurate. Just get on that thing. Because if you don’t, you may miss out, and that would be unfortunate.
Chris Kresser: And there’s no obligation or cost to get on the presale list.
Adam Lambert: You’re just raising your hand.
Chris Kresser: You’re raising your hand; it’s an insurance policy. The presale will open on April 14, and it will close on April 17. [April 14 is] a Thursday, and we’ll close on April 17, which is a Sunday. This podcast will come out probably 10 days before that. So you’ve got a few days, but definitely get on there. Then when we open registration on Thursday the 14th, the sooner [you’ve] signed up, the more chance that you’ll grab one of those spots and that we’ll be able to see you in person at Snowbird over Labor Day [weekend] this year. I’m so pumped. I cannot wait. So, thank you, Adam and Vanessa, for coming on. Especially [since] I imagine you’re busy packing up and getting ready to go to Peru.
Vanessa Lambert: It’s our pleasure.
Chris Kresser: I’m a little bit jealous.
Vanessa Lambert: We’ll bring some magic back for you.
Chris Kresser: Yeah, bring some magic back, and I’ve got some pretty good magic going right now here in my world.
Vanessa Lambert: I can feel it.
Chris Kresser: I can’t complain too much.
Vanessa Lambert: Your aura is definitely reflecting that you’re in Jackson Hole. We’re getting the vibe.
Chris Kresser: Nice. Well, thanks, everyone, for listening. I cannot wait to see you in Utah at the beautiful Snowbird resort over Labor Day [weekend] this fall. [Go to] Kresser.co/liveevent for more information. And keep sending your questions in to ChrisKresser.com/podcastquestion. We’ll see you next time.