Today’s self-care dialogue is with LA artist and meditation teacher, Lauren Spencer King. We first learned about Lauren a few years ago, when we came across her bimonthly moon writings that ring incredibly true and clear up a lot of things for us every month. Since then, we’ve fallen in love with Lauren’s art and meditation work, which is centered around breath work and her extensive knowledge about the healing powers of minerals. Lauren was kind enough to open up a space for us in her 4 day online meditation workshop for stress and anxiety, and we had the most lovely and calming time following her techniques and suggestions, which we often use to this day.
Lauren’s self-care routine is as inspiring as it is down to earth, with a focus on finding the wisdom in the inner self. In this interview, Lauren tells us about the Ayurvedic cleanse she’s on, what minerals she keeps next to her bed, her ideas about exercise and beauty, why she sees the concept of a work-life balance as a myth, and much more.
— Is routine important to you or do you like things to be more open and free?
I think in my everyday things do feel open and free, it’s part of the benefit of being an artist and working for yourself. But, I do find routine within that freedom. Days are also made up of habits (good and bad), and trying to prioritize things that are important and meaningful.
— What do your mornings look like? If they differ from day to day, describe your ideal morning.
I like to have a few hours to wake up and start my day. I like the quiet of the mornings, the possibility of a new day. Sometimes if I happen to wake up really early for some reason, like 5:00am, I like to read in bed for a bit, or watch a scary movie early in the morning. It’s weird… I know.
— Do you have any bedtime rituals that help you sleep well?
On good nights I am in bed early and read before I go to sleep. I love reading in bed, there is something about it that feels so intimate. On a not so good night I will work too late, and fall asleep to a movie.
I do like to sleep with a few minerals next to my bed, some make their way under my pillow at certain times: purple fluorite to relax my mind, danburite for sweet dreams, aquamarine for calming, a piece of dream quartz, and a piece of shungite that is next to my phone (on airplane mode).
— Describe your typical or ideal meal for each of these:
I am on an Ayurvedic cleanse right now. I have been working with this great Ayurvedic practitioner, her name is Meredith Carter. Years ago I did panchakarma (here), and if I could afford it I would do it annually. It’s incredible. What I am doing now is like panchakarma lite!
Breakfast – In the morning I make homemade almond milk. I will warm the almond milk and mix in my herbs and adaptogens, sometimes I will add fresh turmeric. I have been obsessed with making sweet potato toasts. I will top them with tahini and a cooked fruit compote (been loving cherry, wild blueberry, or pear ginger), with some pistachio nuts or pumpkin seeds. If I need some protein then I will eat two eggs toped with basil, and a tangerine.
Lunch – I make fresh dahl with special non-heating spices and ghee, all of which I get from Surya Spa, they have the best mung beans and spices. Dahl is very healing. I will have a bowl full with some steamed chard or beet greens, black lava sea salt, toasted pumpkin seeds and lots of parsley or coriander on top.
Snack – right now cherries are in season and they are making me so happy, I will have a bowl full of them with a handful of pistachios (let’s be honest, like 1/2 a bag, I love pistachios). And some fresh ginger tea. Or I will make some beet hummus and have that with my favorite almond crackers.
Dinner – I have been getting really into making soups! My two favorite are a green soup made with celery / chard / beet greens / asparagus / Japanese sweet potato. And a kabocha / carrot /ginger soup. Or I will cook a big artichoke and dip the leaves into a melted ghee, lemon dip.
— Do you partake in caffeine and in what form? If not, what is your drink of choice in the morning?
None, I have never even had a cup of coffee. I usually have a huge jar of warm water with lemon or fresh ginger in the morning.
— Do you have a sweet tooth? If so, how do you keep it in check?
I used to when I was younger, until I developed all sorts of health problems because of it, some that I still deal with even over a decade later. I was living in Paris and eating nothing but delicious breads and sweets! It really took a toll on my body and since then I have cut both out. But, I still dream of flaky French almond croissants. Maybe in another life I will get to enjoy them again.
— Are there any particular supplements, herbs, or tinctures/tonics that you take regularly and find to be helpful with your energy level and general wellness?
I love eating a spoonful of Chyawanprash in the morning. My good friend who runs Rebbl and develops all of their delicious drinks sent me a wellness mixture, it has very high grade reshi, ashwaganda and maca in it. I have that every morning. I love QuintEssential’s 3.3 minerals. I also swear by Alexis Smart’s flower remedies, she is amazing! I also almost always tend to all ailments physical and emotional with a homeopathic remedy from her.
— Do you exercise and do you have a particular exercise routine that you repeat weekly?
I have an aversion to most forms of exercise, especially any kind of class where an instructor is wearing a headset and yells things at you like, “It’s almost swimsuit season, ladies”. But sometimes I get into a routine where I go to yoga. I like to take hikes and go on walks, and I love to dance. But, my favorite is swimming.
Recently I was swimming laps, and was having one of those days where I was feeling very unkind and judgmental of my body, and there was this older man in the lane next to me, he was a very serious swimmer, he might have even been a swim coach at some point, you could just tell. And I stopped to catch my breathe and he asked me how I had such a strong breaststroke. I told him it was because I was on swim team for years as a kid and maybe because I was tall. We talked for a bit about it and then I got back to my laps. And I started to think that in day to day life what I criticize most about my body in other contexts I use to my advantage. In this case, that my un-slender legs and bigger hips and butt actually made me a stronger swimmer and made my stroke more powerful. It really changed the way I thought about my body. I try to remember this.
— What is your idea of beauty – external, internal or both?
I really love natural beauty, which to me means being whole and owning all of who you are. You know, there are times when I see someone crying, and they don’t maybe look their best, but they are so beautiful to me, because they are so present and authentic. Bodies aren’t meant to be perfect, that’s not why we have them.
— What is your skincare approach – face and body?
I love oils and go through different phases of them on my face and body. Right now at night I use a hazelnut or arnica oil from a Paris apothecary for my face. I am also completely obsessed with Sans Ceuticals’s Activator 7 Oil. I use it everywhere – body, face and hair! I don’t really wear make up but when I do it is from RMS.
— Are there any foods, herbs or supplements you find to be helpful to your skin/hair/general glow?
I either dry brush or do abhyanga massage with basil oil every day, it’s more for the internal lymphatic system, but it makes my skin really nice. Eating well and drinking enough water are also key. And a little sun is always nice.
— Do you have any beauty tips/tricks you’ve found to be especially useful throughout the years? Family heirlooms are very much welcome.
I love using my jade face roller to refine the tone of my skin as well as relieve some tension I carry in my jaw. I also am into my second year of no bra, for the most part. For a few reasons, one of them being that they actually aren’t good for your body. No products with chemicals. My mum was a natural beauty, she really taught me what that was, she had a style that was all her own. She was radiant from the inside out. I sometimes think this is something you are born with.
— Do you practice any consistent routines in order to avoid stress?
Stress is often what I teach most about in class, because it has been the biggest teacher to me. I feel I am always at a growing edge with it. I try not to over schedule myself. Rest is a big part of being healthy for me. I have gone through some very difficult periods in my life of having sever adrenal fatigue, which comes from stress of all kinds. So, I have to listen really carefully not to push myself too hard, despite at times wanting to ignore my limitations. Recently I have been working with someone to understand the deeper level of stress that I unconsciously take on from people around me and from living in a city. It has been fascinating.
— If stress cannot be avoided, what are your ways of dealing with it?
Yes, sometimes stress can not be avoided, like when I have a show, or need to be on the computer all day, or travel. Those are the big ones for me. I have to really work hard to stay grounded. It’s really all sorts of little things, that when I do them really add up. And I just do the best I can, it’s not about perfection. Even stopping to dance the stress out of my body for five minuets really helps. Stress is more physical than we think.
— What measures do you take when you sense a cold/general feeling of being under the weather coming on?
Stop everything. Get into bed in something comfy with socks. Sleeping as much as I can. Raw garlic. Olive Leaf supplements. Colloidal silver. Apple Cider Vinegar if I have a sore throat. Hot shower (or bath) with eucalyptus oil. Thieves oil on my chest and throat. Lots of water.
— Do you strive to maintain a healthy work/life balance or do those things overlap for you? What is your approach?
I honestly think this idea of work / life balance is a myth. At least it is for me. Sometimes it’s only about working on Fields of Study, sometimes I am all about being in the studio, sometimes it’s more relaxing and I can see friends and go on a trip or a weekend getaway. There is balance within the year if I am lucky. I recently just let this idea go, I was making myself feel so bad trying to make that ideal happen on a daily or even weekly timeline. I am also a bit of a workaholic, never feeling like I am doing enough. That’s something I am trying to work on. But, this pressure for balance seems like a modern day version of the “women can have it all” mantra. There are always compromises and I think it’s more empowering if we own that and voice it and have conversations about it. Instead of silently thinking that there is something wrong with us.
— What do you consider to be the single most important change you’ve made to your routine or lifestyle in terms of wellness?
It’s not one single thing, but if it was it would be learning to listen to my body. My health and understanding of health has come from a bumpy road of making lots little shifts. I don’t believe in a one size fits all mentality for health. I think we are all different and in every moment we need different things. I am wary of the companies and self proclaimed health guru’s out there right now that give sometimes ill informed blanket recommendations. I think it is up to us to empower ourselves and take the time to learn about our bodies and ourselves. It’s important to have support and create a team of people that can help you. I have an amazing doctor, a homeopathist, an Ayurvedic practitioner, a woman who I do energy work with, and a therapist that have all at different times saved my life in various ways. It can take time, but finding the people that resonate with your understanding of health is key. I have learned so much about my body and what health and healing is from working with all of them. And remembering that deep and true healing takes time. It’s always a process.
— A book/movie/class that influenced your view of self-nourishment or self-care.
What came to mind was this movie Agnes Martin made called “Gabriel”. It’s terribly long and boring. It is about the boy on a walk in nature, and it is very stripped down and minimal, no dialog and most of the movie is silent, it has one tiny part with music. But, I think it relates to the way I think about self-care in a way because it is about listening to the subtleties, and how all of that gets lost when there is a lot going on. Once I really started refining my diet, routine, relationship to my energy, my intuition, etc… I started to really be able to notice those subtle changes and messages my body was sending me, and as time goes on I keep going deeper and deeper. It’s like in Martin’s paintings, when color is introduced, it feels monumental. Like for me, bananas are just too sweet now.
— You are well-versed in so many amazing practices! Could you tell us a little bit about each of them:
– Your art (would love to know more about your process on the mineral paintings)
After graduate school I started making my own watercolors out of historical pigments, mostly from minerals and some earth pigments. I taught myself how to make paints the way they were made for centuries before there were synthetic colors. The mineral monochromes are just one aspect of the work I make, and they are about many things. But, the main ones are a redirection of how we think about representation. I think of them as representational paintings, as they are made of the very thing they are depicting: malachite, azurite, agate, epidote… They are also about an interest in the healing powers of art. They are made with the intention that the viewer and the space receive the same healing properties of the minerals and the earth from which they are sourced. I usually pair them with a highly rendered graphite drawings or watercolors.
– Fields of Study and mineral meditations
Some years back after teaching meditation for a bit I was longing for an alternative to what I was seeing in the ways of spiritual teachings and mediation work, both in approach and aesthetic. I wanted to support people and teach them tools they could use in their every day life, while also creating a container for all the things I was interested in and all the things that I brought into my own spiritual practice, which I feel I am always shaping and discovering. Something that would allow for a deep conversation that also had breadth, and was based in every day life and could be accessible. Something that could be malleable and evolve as I did. And Fields of Study was born. I originally wanted to open up a non-profit space that would be like a modern day community center with classes and workshops for the community, as well as have a little shop and a residency space. And someday this might happen. But for now it’s just me – working to change the world, one person at a time. I say this with some humor, but it’s also a very real desire to be in service and help instigate change.
The same goes for how I teach about minerals, I want to present an alternative, something that resonates with me and represents how I grew up with minerals in my home because of my mother, who was a silversmith. The goal of all those workshops is really to show people that they know more than they think they do, about most things, minerals included. And it’s not really about helping people feel like they know everything, but showing them that when they ask and they trust themselves they can source the answers. The participants really end up teaching the workshop, which I think is pretty amazing.
– Your Moon writings
I have been writing about the moon twice a month for about six years now. It really came out of a desire to understand its energy on a deeper level, and also to check in with myself about what I was feeling on a bimonthly basis. It’s hard to take credit for the writing as I feel I have gotten to a place with it where I just sit down to write and something comes through me. As out there as that sounds, that’s really what happens. I just listen as best as I can, I have gotten pretty good at listening. Writing in this way has really strengthened my intuition, it’s really incredible. It’s also nice to get conformations from people when they write to tell me how right on it was for them. It reminds me that we are all connected.
Fun and Inspiration
— What do you do to unwind or treat yourself?
Swimming in the ocean. The hot springs in Ojai or a trip to Joshua Tree. A bad movie.
— A book/song/movie/piece of art to feed the soul:
Movie – “The Color of Pomegranates”
— We are captivated by Joan Didion’s compact travel packing list. What are some essential objects that would be in yours?
Funny enough I just re-read this essay from “The White Album” where she talks about her packing list related to her being a journalist. At the very end she mentions that the one thing she never had was a watch, which she supposes is some reflection of the climate of the late 60’s. But, a watch is the thing I always have, perhaps that says something about me and the times we are living in now. When I travel I also always wear this gold Victorian compass. You never know when you will have to find your way home.
— Is there anyone you would like to hear from next in this interview series?
My Ayurvedic practitioner – Meredith Carter, my Homeopath – Alexis Smart, or anyone of the ladies on the @onigiriemoji Instagram feed I am a part of. It’s a feed where a group of friends post what they are cooking and eating. Also, I wish you could have interviewed my mum, she was the best cook, I wish I learned more about cooking from her.
Photos by Lauren Spencer King, Claire Cottrell and from Lauren’s shop /
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