Everyone dreams of living longer. Today, Sean Entin and Taylor Smith talks to Dwayne J. Clark, the Founder of Aegis Living, about how to live longer in this fast-paced world. Dwayne shares many of his personal health strategies that he applies for his own well-being. He believes that creativity is directly related to health and wellness. Having been to many countries, he compares the different kinds of foods from different continents and shares interesting food discoveries across the world. He also talks about his daily routine and how meditation is one of the most vital areas of health and wellness.
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Promoting Longevity Through Health And Wellness With Dwayne J. Clark
Our guest, Dwayne Clark shares many of his personal health strategies and tips from his life. One of the subjects that stood out to me was when we’re talking about food. Food has been very much at the center of my life for as long as I’ve been alive. I grew up in a family that was always at home, cooking meals from scratch together. It was a time when we all got together, we bonded, we created a meal. We sat down and we shared a meal. Dwayne mentions that he used to take trips to Europe and you’ll know the story. In Europe, they have this nice relationship with food and they’ll eat three-hour meals. In America, it’s like having a cheap fling. This hints at a different aspect of talking about food and talking about nutrition.
One of the first things I got into when I was working on mastering my own health was food and nutrition alongside exercises. Those are two of the most ubiquitous places to start for anyone in terms of health and well-being. You are what you eat and the higher the quality of food you can put in your body, the healthier you’re going to be. What this relationship to food points at is to not just what we’re eating, but how we’re eating. Beyond that, how we’re engaging with the food that we are eating. This to me is more transformational than simply thinking about, “What am I putting the most nutrient-dense foods to my body?”
When we do that in a stressed state, even if we’re eating the most nutrient-dense food, our body is still responding from a place of stress. If we’re doing this chronically, our body is constantly feeling like it’s in this state of fight or flight. Our body is naturally designed to store energy when we’re in a survival state. Beyond thinking about what we eat, we can start thinking about how we’re eating it and creating time around meals to connect to appreciate the food we’re eating and to slow down and digest the food. It’s becoming more and more important is not being stressed out around times when you’re eating. That’s one of the subjects that Dwayne and I talk about in this episode. I think of him as he was the most interesting man in the world. To me, he has one of those personalities of being very interesting and multifaceted and has a depth of character that is enjoyable to learn from and to talk to.
Dwayne, welcome to the show. How are you doing?
I’m doing awesome. Thanks for having me.
You’re so welcome. It’s a pleasure to have you. I’ve been looking over your Instagram and your website and you look like one of the world’s most interesting men. I’m excited we get to talk.
I don’t know that I’m going to have that commercial. I’ll take it on. Thanks a bunch.
For anyone who’s not familiar with who you are, do you want to give them a quick who you are and what you do?
My name is Dwayne J. Clark. You can go to my website by the same name. I like to do a lot of different things. I’m most known for having a luxury senior housing company called Aegis Living. I’ve had that company for many years and has been very successful. It was voted the Best Company to Work for twelve times, it was the Glassdoor Top 50 Company out of 700,000 companies, known for being innovative and creative with the service, care and creative architecture. That’s what I’m most well-known for. I own a film company also called True Productions where we make social justice films. I have a variety of books out. I have a book called My Mother, My Son, that’s being made into a Hollywood movie. I have a book coming out that I’ve spent the last five and a half years on about longevity and wellness called 30 Summers More.
I’m looking over your website. I noticed you have these three pillars. Can you maybe elaborate longevity, creativity and civility? Are those the core tenets of your life?
It’s what I want to do, I love being creative. One of my greatest fears in life is being boring. The guy at the cocktail party when we go to introduce it. He said, “There’s not much I can say about Joe. He’s worked at the plant for 39 years.” That’s about it. I never want to have an introduction like that. Creativity is huge for me. I took up sculpting and I go to a master in Italy and she is phenomenal. I’ve started sculpting. I started a movie company. I wrote a play that’s going to be in New York. I try to do lots of creative things. On civility, our country has lost its ability to be civil because we don’t treat people with the same kindness and stability that we used to. I don’t know if it’s social media or what it is, but we’ve lost this ability to be kind and civil to each other.
I led a march on Washington, DC called the March for Civility. It was covered by C-SPAN. There were several hundreds of people there that marched with me. We spoke from the same steps where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave us. I have a dream speech and I resonated. C-SPAN picked it up. It was broadcast to eight million people. I think we need to bring civility back. That’s a big part of it. Civility means different things to different people. It’s kindness, it’s manners, it’s being polite. The last thing was longevity. Who doesn’t want to live a good long life and have your family and children live a long life? I’ve invested a good portion of my life looking at, “What can I do to improve the planet and make people live well and live long?”
I’ve picked out so many good little points in there. One of the things that stood out to me is you’re talking about civility. For you being this kindness and compassion. My experience has been through my travels in health and wellness and especially meditation. As you create more kindness and compassion for yourself, that tends to translate outward as well. How have you seen your efforts manifest in terms of creating more kindness and compassion in your world and around you? What has been working for you?
You make an excellent point. If you want people to be more civil, you have to be more civil. You have to be the beacon of kindness. I like what you said about meditation because about a few years ago I took up TM, Transcendental Meditation. I find that that grounds me more. It makes me make better choices about how I conduct myself with people. I find myself monitoring my tone with people because some people will say, “I didn’t say anything bad to that person.” We may not have said anything bad, but how was your tone? Your tone is directive. It can influence people on how civil you are. When I’m stuck in traffic and I’m ready to lay on the horn with someone or scream out my window, I’m checking myself and saying, “Is that the kind of person you want to be?” You’re absolutely right. It’s got to start with you and you’ll find that people will be more civil around you. Most people, there are still jerks out there in the world. All you can do is what you can do.
I’m a big believer in that. We have our own innate capacity, which could care for how we’re showing up. Have you ever heard of the Sedona method?
No, I’ve been to Sedona many times, but I don’t think I’m familiar with that.
It’s a meditation or awareness technique that allows you to see how you’re showing up in terms of these basic wants in life. The wanting of approval, the wanting of control, the wanting of security or separation or oneness. From that, it’s a template of awareness to figure out when you’re agitated. Instead of thinking about, “It’s this something that’s happening outside of me,” you start to go, “What am I wanting in this moment? What am I striving for?” By bringing that awareness, you’re able to start having that button inside of you, it goes, “What can I shift in this moment to make this okay?” It’s about taking complete ownership of who you are and how you’re showing up which sounds like you’re looking at what you’re up to. It sounds like you’re in this amazing place of taking extreme ownership of what you’re up to.
A big part for me is influencing people. There’s the old expression about in your 30s, you learn, in your 40s, you earn and in your 50s, you return. I’ve been very fortunate from an economic standpoint to run a company as large as I have. It’s completely family-owned. We have almost $3 billion in real estate. I’ve been very fortunate economically to have that good fortune. That doesn’t come because you’re lucky or you’re a smart guy. That comes because legions of people have helped you get there. When you get there, you have a debt. That debt is to do whatever you can to repay those people to make the world a better place. To inspire people, to give back whether that’s through charity, whether that’s through knowledge, whether that’s through mentoring. I turned 60, that’s the place in my life I’m at is to look at that and say, “How can I influence people?” You want to influence as many people as you can and that’s the great impact.
I’m a big believer in the power of influence. I always looked to people who aren’t just talking the talk, but who are also walking the walk and embodying the things that they talk about. It seems like you’re embodying that. When you mentioned creativity, do you think creativity is directly correlated to health and well-being?
Yes, let me tell you how. In my book, one of the greatest things that scientists have found for people who live long, the average American man lives about 78.6 and the average American woman lives to about 80. People that are living in their 80s and 90s and even 100 is purpose. Everybody defines purpose a little differently. Let me tell you how I don’t define it. If you’re 60 or 65 years old and you’ve decided to retire and move to Arizona and you’re going to golf every day. The days you don’t golf, you’re going to go fishing. That’s not a purpose. In fact, there’s good science behind following those people and those people that that’s all they do, will probably die earlier than the average lifespan. The purpose is where you have an intent to make a difference. That’s not your golf score improvement by one point. The purpose is where you’re doing something for the greater good. That could be volunteering at a children’s shelter. It could be helping the homeless shelter. It could be doing something on a creative standpoint where you’re making art.
My wife does these large murals around the world. She’s working for the Vatican in their children’s hospital to improve the looks. The purpose is defined by everyone a little differently. Creativity falls right in line with the purpose. That’s one of the tenets that I tell people if you want to have a long life, you have to have a purpose. Purpose into your 90s. If you remember 60 Minutes, when Dan Rather, Morley Safer and Mike Wallace and all these guys were on it several years ago, these guys were 80 years old out doing new stories. I had a very intimate lunch with Bill Clinton. President Clinton was telling me his theories on longevity. He was telling me how very few men in his family live past their 60s. He’s out doing these World Summits and he’s 72 and he’s in great health. One of the things I did in my book was called The President Study. If you look at the most stressful job in the world, it’s got to be the President of the United States of America. President is the most powerful country in the world.
You looked at photos of Barack Obama before and after and he’s got that gray coming in.You have an opportunity to create your living artifact today. Click To Tweet
Here’s the thing that I found in there. The average president is living 12 to 15 years longer than they should have the year they were born. Bush lived to 93, Carter is 94, even Reagan lived to 90. These presidents in the last 50 years are outliving the average life expectancy. Why? I asked President Bill Clinton this, it’s purpose. They have not said, “I’m retiring now. I’m 60 years old. It’s time to play golf.” The body will follow what the mind programs it to do. If you tell your body by your mind shutting down and saying, “I’m done working and done doing this, whatever this is.” Your body is then thinking, “I’m done. I can shut it.” I believe that’s what happens to a lot of people that die early. I was talking to a guy that’s 87 years old and still working in a store. Don’t let go of the purpose. The purpose is what will help you live a very long life.
Thinking about purpose, I’ve got two questions. One is if you’re not sure of your purpose, do you have any advice on how to find your purpose?
You have to think about what you’re passionate about. You can’t say, “I’m going to work in a homeless shelter because that seems like a good purpose and you don’t care for it.” What resonates with you? What motivates you? You see something on TV and when you watch a movie, what are the characteristics, the values, the tenets that resonate with you? Maybe it’s working with dogs in an animal shelter. Maybe it’s helping starving kids in Africa. Who knows what it is? You have to do a little mind inventory and say, “What resonates with me?” I have a foundation called The D-ONE Foundation. I started this foundation, it’s mostly kids of color and they’re all athletes that are going to play in a D1 program. One of my athletes is the number one recruit in the nation for the class of 2021. There are five of them and I mentor them one-on-one.
I love athletics, so that’s a big thing for me. I also love the underdog. I mentor them about things from credit to social media, what to post, not to post, how to dress for an interview and language. Every time we meet, I take them to a different restaurant. I make them try different kinds of food. These kids are coming from impoverished homes. They’ve never experienced things like this. Why do I do that? Because I’m passionate about these kids that are underdog being good people. Not just being good athletes. They were born with good genetics and they have great athletic skills. Some of the kids have 50 college scholarship offers and they’re going to the best colleges in the nation, Ohio State, USC, University of Washington. I want them to be good human beings after their sports life. That’s an important thing for me. I’m passionate about that. I’m passionate about the outcome. It’s those kinds of things that will help people live long lives.
That’s such a nice perspective to bring because a lot of health and wellness. Advocates and professionals out there, they talk about the things you’re supposed to do, but not this state of having a purpose and how powerful that can be to motivate you and energize you.
Let me tell you one other stat that I found when I did this study. I found that vice presidents live substantially less than presidents. If they never made it to president, that vice presidents lived substantially less than presidents. I was talking to President Bill Clinton again about this and I said, “I knew the answer, why do you think that is?” He goes, “It’s easy. They don’t get credit for their accomplishments.” That’s a compelling, interesting fact. If you’re in the spotlight but you’re not getting credit for any of your accomplishments, we all have this human need to be acknowledged. It’s what helps us grow. There have been scientific tests about when you acknowledge people and they have compliments, it helps your immune system. The vice presidents are not getting the acknowledgment, the credit that they need and consequently, they’re not living as long as presidents.
You said that you spent a lot of your time traveling and exploring different avenues for health and longevity. I would love to know some of your travels and what you’ve discovered along the way.
I got back from 40 days in Europe. I try to study cultural things. We were in France, in Prague and in Italy. I tried to look at the little things that they do differently and study the culture. One of the things I started doing in America and in Europe was timing the average meal times for dinner. I noticed in America that you could turn a table, when you go to dinner, in about an hour and 23 minutes. I sat there and I watched and I time people. I time my own dinners and everything else. It sounds fun, laborious project but I did it. I went to Europe and I started doing the same thing. Europe is almost three hours for dinner. I was talking to a CEO friend of mine who’s Italian. I started to reveal this finding for me. I said, “You guys take three hours for dinner.” He goes, “Dwayne, food is a relationship to Europeans. It’s like a good marriage. In America, you and your food, you have a cheap fling. We have a loving long marriage.” I said, “Tell me about that.” He goes, “You go to McDonald’s and you’re in and out in eight minutes. We sit here and we enjoy our food.” He’s right. We’re looking for the quick fix, not the quick health fix. Their foods are so dramatically different.
Do you realize that most European countries will not import American meats, nor bread because they’ve been modified so much with hormones and genetically modified wheat? When you go to Europe, you’re like, “The beef tastes so different here. It’s not a good beef but it doesn’t got all those hormones pumped up in it.” As an American, the food is built for our tastes, not for health. One of the things that I do is I try to examine my own body chemistry when I go to Europe because it’s a cleansing period. My blood sugar drops by 3 to 5 points. I take my blood sugar every day. My blood pressure drops by ten points. I lose 2 or 3 pounds along the way and I’m not dieting. I’m eating gelato every day. You look at that and say, “What is that about? What’s about the way we create food in this country?”
A few years ago, I went on an early morning walk about 5:00 or 5:30 in this bakery in France. No one is out in the street. It’s 5:00 or 5:30 in the morning, I got jet lag. I stopped to get a cup of tea. I say, “Can I get a cup of tea?” He’s like, “Come in. You must have my croissants.” I’m like, “No, I try not to eat a lot of bread.” “No. You’re American, right?” I said, “Yes.” He goes, “It’s very different here.” I said, “What do you mean it’s very different here? It’s bread spread.” He said, “No.” First of all, the wheat is different. I baked in America. The way we let the bread rise in Europe is very different than you let the bread rise in America.” I said, “If I eat too much bread, I get indigestion and I get bloated.” He goes, “Do you know why?” I said, “No, tell me why.” He goes, “Sunnie’s croissants, I’ve let these rise for 28 hours. In America, they may let these rise for two hours.” I said, “What’s the difference?” He goes, “That’s when the yeast is rising when you eat it in America.” I stopped and go, “The yeast is rising in my intestines. It’s warm and wet and it’s a perfect environment for yeast to rise.” That’s why I get bloated and gassy and indigestion. It’s little things like that that you think, “I get that now.”
Are you familiar that he’s hinting at fermentation? Did he go into fermentation?
That was the whole theory. We were letting our gut be the fermentation box for the yeast.
I’ll share you a story. I don’t think I’ve shared this one before. In part of my health and wellness journey here, I’ve gotten into fermentation and looking at every culture before the modern world before refrigeration, before canning, before preservation. Every culture historically had some fermentation practice. I read the fermentation bible, this book called The Art of Fermentation. I had a girlfriend at that time who was severely allergic to gluten. I read in the book, if you ferment wheat enough, you can ferment it to a point where the gluten is broken down. It doesn’t cause people an issue. My girlfriend, she was so badly intolerant to gluten. If she had a little bit dab of soy sauce on sushi at a restaurant, she’d be done for three days. She had it over at my house one day and I said, “Do you want to do an experiment?” She was like, “Only when I let you do this to me.” I told her, “I’ve let this ferment for the last 30 hours. I rolled it in a non-gluten flour to roll it out.” I made her a wheat tortilla that had been fermented and fed it to her. She had no signs of gluten intolerance, no digestive issues and no anything.
What did you do? Did you freeze it?
No, it’s the process of fermentation. All you have to do is you take wheat, water and salt. You mix them together and let them sit on the counter for however long. What it does is it creates what they call a sourdough starter. Fermentation practice creates cedes. If you’ve ever had sourdough bread, that’s real sourdough, it tastes sour because of fermentation. As you allow that to happen, the proteins that people are allergic to, it starts to break them down into space where they’re digestible.
Taylor, I don’t know if that’s a testament to health or a testament to what it’s like to be your girlfriend. What experiments do you have next?
It’s the only way to see, is this book telling the truth or is it a lie?
My wife is gluten intolerant. She’s not definitely allergic, but she avoids it at all costs. Her feet breakout. It’s weird when we’re in Europe, it’s not half as bad as when she’s in America.
That has to do with how genetically modified all our crops are. We’re eating things that aren’t even real in a sense.
Lots of things.
Where else have you been on your travels? What other kinds of fun interesting things have you discovered around the world?
You and I were talking about this thing about Japan and drinking. The first thing that people should do before they go to the bathroom, before they get their cup of coffee is to drink 16, 20, 30, 35 ounces of room temperature water. Japanese had been doing that for 100 years. It’s just fascinating what it does. First of all, we get dehydrated after we sleep because our bodies are working to replenish the cells and detoxify. We’re losing 16 to 20 ounces of water per night. When you wake up, you’re dehydrated. That’s why you have a foggy brain when you wake up in the morning is because you’re dehydrated. Your brain is trying to function while being dehydrated. The first thing you do is drink this room temperature water and it does a variety of things.You have a debt, which is to do whatever you can to repay those people to make the world a better place and inspire people to give back. Click To Tweet
First of all, your brain fog goes away because your body can detoxify. The second thing it does is start your metabolism and it will help you lose weight. I’ve done these hundreds of times and it’s proven. It helped people lose weight. You start off with so much more energy doing this because your body is working in a more efficient way. It’s little things like this that we see on our travels that make sense. One of the things that are constant in Europe is that you always walk after dinner. The thing about it in America, I don’t know how your household is but growing up my household, we’d overeat at dinner and then we’d be in front of the television with our top button and our pants undone and then we go to bed. In Europe, that sequence of events does not occur.
You eat dinner and then you walk for twenty minutes as well. You will always walk for twenty minutes. You are up 2 or 3 hours before you go to bed. You’re not watching TV or doing something else. It’s active. It helps your whole digestion process. In India, it’s the same thing. There’s a Hindu word for this. It’s a walk after dinner. It’s a common practice from around the world. We’ve been so conditioned to be on some technology or device. That’s the other thing that in studying things for longevity. My parents were born in the ‘20s. If you go back to what they did growing up, they did so many things that technology is taking that physical ability away from us.
I always have to laugh when people come up to me and say, “I’m going to live a lot longer than my dad.” I said, “Tell me why you think that.” “I go to the gym 3 days a week or 4 days a week. My dad never went to the gym.” I go, “Did your dad wash your car?” “Yes, my dad always will.” “Did you wash the car?” “No, it’s my dad.” “Do you mow the lawn?” “No, I don’t mow the lawn. I have a gardener.” “Did your dad mow the lawn?” “Yes.” “Did your mom ever hang clothes on the clothesline?” “Yes.” “Did you have a landline?” “Yes.” “Do you realize having a landline as opposed to using your iPhone can add 2,000 to 3,000 steps a day? Just having a landline, answering the phone, going back and forth to it.”
People don’t think of those things. Technology has made us sit so much more. I remember having encyclopedias. When I was a kid, I’d be in my bedroom and encyclopedias would be downstairs. I’d be looking up something, “I’ve got to get the B encyclopedia now.” I’d look it up, I get it and maybe, “I’ve got to get the M.” I’d go down. I’d put on 2,000 to 3,000 steps just looking at the encyclopedia. Now, kids are pulling it up on their iPhone, their iPad or their computer and they don’t leave their bedroom chair. All these little things that we used to do to get us steps in movement along, we don’t do anymore. That’s making us this sedates, overweight culture.
We’ve become a very sedentary culture. I’ve heard this one before and my producer wrote over. She goes, “Sitting is the new smoking.”
That’s very commonplace. I hear that a lot. It’s horrible for you. That’s why your Fitbit, I have an Oura ring or whatever, will say, “Time to move now. You’ve been sitting too long.”
You get pissed with the ring. I have the Oura ring too. You’re like, “Why are you telling me what to do?” Knowing that you’re bringing to people not this complex, “You need to do eight different things to be healthy.” It’s thinking about the simple things that you’re doing each and every day that are contributing to you feeling good and being well. I have a big morning ritual like, “How are you taking time for yourself first thing in the morning and caring for yourself before you’re thinking about what you need to do or who you’re going to see?” Do you have anything in your life that’s oriented towards things you do almost every day for your own health and well-being?
Meditation is a big one. I meditate at least once a day, sometimes twice a day. The thing that I try to preach is to know your own vitals. That’s something that I’m trying to get on the train to get people to do. Taking your blood pressure every day. Taking your blood sugar every day. Looking at your weight a couple of times a week because it’s a runaway train. Do you know there are millions of undiagnosed diabetics in America? It’s those people walking around with blood sugars of 240 and they don’t know it. That’s the thing that kills you. It’s the same with blood pressure. That’s why they call it the silent killer. Every day on my iPad, I sit down and I take my blood sugar and I take my blood pressure, I take my weight, I look at how many steps I get, I looked at how much I slept. That gives me a great baseline.
Sometimes we get into denial about our own habits or where we’re going or whatever. I’m mentoring a good friend of mine who wouldn’t mind me telling me this story. He came to me several months ago. He had his 70th birthday. I hadn’t seen him for about 6 or 7 weeks and he gained a bunch of weight. I said, “How much do you weigh?” He’s 6’1.5″. He’s a tall guy. He said, “I’m 293 pounds.” I said, “I love you and here’s the deal. The word 70 years of age and 293 pounds should not be used in the same sentence.” He looked at me and I said, “I’d like to help you.” We sat down and I came up with a plan for him. I mentor him every day and he’s required to give me how many steps he has, what his blood sugar is, what his blood pressure is, what his weight is and what he ate the day before. Since March 1, he’s lost 41 pounds.
Did you put him on some crazy diet? No. Do you know what it was? It was focused on consciousness. There are 30 million people with undiagnosed diabetes in the United States, almost 10% of the whole US. He was in the diabetic range. He’s still in the pre-diabetic range. He’s 252 pounds. His kid said, “Dad, you’re moving like you did in your 40s.” He’s a different man. He’s out chopping wood and doing stuff. You’ve got to be conscious about where you’re at in your health journey. If anything happens to you, the first thing I do is I go into the doctor and I go, “Here’s my baseline.” This is one of the things I talk a lot about in the book. When we go to the doctor, for some reason we’ve given doctors all these powers. The doctors are great people. They have great intentions, but at the end of the day, they’re just people, they’re human. The average doctor spends 18 to 19 minutes with you as a patient. If you know that, what you should do when you go to the doctor is tell them, “This is my baseline. This is what’s going on with me. This is where I think I am in this journey.”
90% of the time, the doctors spent asking you questions about where you are and how you differ from your baseline. If you go in with these facts about what your baseline is and take charge of the assessment process, then the doctor can get to the diagnosis as opposed to the assessment. I’d rather have the doctor spend 90% of the time diagnosing what’s going on with me, than asking me laborious questions about whatever. I can tell him, “My blood pressure is normally 126/78. My blood sugar, I have an A1C of 5.5. It’s normally 93 when fasting in the morning.” It takes me 1 to 2 minutes to tell him all these things and he’s like, “I don’t have to go through all that.” This is very abnormal for me. Here’s what’s going on.
You touched on there the core part of all of that which is this idea of awareness. I’ve gone through so many different avenues for health and wellness. By the end of my very formal personal training career, I came to the conclusion that one of the most vital areas of health and wellness is meditation. I say that not because sitting down for ten minutes is going to change your life. What it is doing is creating this habit of creating in a relationship with yourself, creating awareness around how you’re feeling. As you start to overtime create a deeper depth of awareness with yourself and have a healthier relationship with yourself, you start to know more intuitively and more quickly when something is not right. What you’re adding on there, the next layer is these simple things you can do, checking your blood pressure, checking your blood sugar, and bringing awareness. From that place, you can take action and create change. Without knowing where you’re at, making a change is challenging.
There was a study that they’ve found that daily meditation is more effective for people who have a cardiac disease than medication by almost double.
I’m not surprised. To me, meditation is about bringing the nervous system in balance among other things. Have you ever heard of HeartMath Institute?
That’s one of our partners we affiliate with. To me, it’s a scientifically backed, an easily proven method to put your heart in a rhythm where your nervous system is going to come into balance and you’re promoting wellness and healing. I’m not surprised at all that meditation is outperforming medication.
That reminded me of your apps or one of those things I’ve seen on my travels. In Japan, doctors are writing prescriptions for what they call forest bathing. You go, “What is forest bathing?” It’s called taking a walk in nature. Several years ago, we got hooked on this concept called biophilia. Biophilia in hospitals, they started looking at the patient’s postop that came out of surgery. They would put them in different rooms. They did this accidentally, one room looked out onto the concrete jungle and brick buildings and so on. The other room looked out on the lawns, gardens and flowers. They found conclusively that people that looked out over nature were healing postop at twice the rate of the people that were looking out over manmade, inanimate concrete objects. They thought, “It’s happening too often to be coincidental. There must be some scientific facts about them.”
What they found is that nature improves the immune system. That’s why they’re healing faster. We, at Aegis Living, started building biophilia walls. Amazon, I don’t know if you’ve seen the biodome that they just built in Seattle. A friend of mine that I know very well took me on a private tour. They have this dome that’s with plants. It’s got to be 80,000 to 90,000 square feet, but it’s all plants hanging in the stone. People go there because their theory is the oxygen increases their immune system which allows them to be more creative. In Japan, they’re doing this forest bathing that essentially is, if you go walk out in nature, it will help your immune system. What we have found in our retirement communities and we have a biophilia wall in our corporate office. People are getting sick less because the immune system is dramatically increasing.
This would be my personal belief. It would be that a big part of nature too is this feeling of connection. Whether we consciously realize it or not, we feel more connected to things that are alive. Where that translates into what we experience as human beings and related to healing would be more on the emotional level. I do a lot of personal work on that topic, but also a lot of research and try and bring more awareness to how important our emotional state is towards healing. Immediately, beyond the oxygen, beyond the other things you were mentioning there about the biophilia wall. To me, there’s also this connection to life force and there’s this connection to creating a more grounded, calm, emotional state within.
That all affects the immune system.
It all comes back to the immune system. Do you have any experience yourself with trying out different techniques for emotional healing?
I have to tell you about writing this book, I did all crazy testing and cookie things. That ran the gamut from medical things from being in hyperbaric chambers to tapping exercises on my brain, from Reiki to north of 600 different spa treatments. I don’t know that there’s one that stands out. I’ve been to Sedona three times and done the Sedona solo adventures and had all experiences and things in Sedona that were out of this world from the Kundalini adventures to soul searching to past lives. When you say, “Have you done anything?” I’ve done a lot of crazy.One of the most vital areas of health and wellness is meditation. Click To Tweet
You’re touching on one of our core principles at Adventures in Health is this idea of exploration. I created a little acronym. I know you have an acronym on your website too, EPIC. I created an acronym called LIFE. It’s about Learning, Inspiration, Foundation and Exploration. That’s directly related to health in what we do. In terms of if you want to change something, you have to learn something new. You can’t solve a problem from the same state of consciousness that you created it. You need that inspiration to take action. You need that foundation which is foundational health like drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning. That’s foundational to anyone. What you’re mentioning here at the end is this idea of exploration. That’s so core to any of us succeeding is being willing to try something even if we don’t necessarily know what’s going to happen or believe in it, but being open and willing to go all-in on something and see what happens.
That’s not the point. The point is you explored something and it took you to a new level of adventure.
That’s a big message I’m trying to bring to the table. I’m glad you’re embodying it. Be willing and open to trying something regardless of the outcome.
That’s true and complementary health for alternative medicine. I get acupuncture every week. It has changed my life and if you would have told me that several years ago, I’d be like, “I’m not so crazy about it.” Every week I go religiously.
What has acupuncture done for you?
After I started writing this book several years ago, I was about 45 pounds more than I am now. I’ve always been a big guy. I played football and I wrestled. I’ve always been more than 200 pounds, but I ballooned up way. I was 80 pounds more than my normal. I was working out with some of my younger staff trying to keep up, lifting weights that were heavy and popping a lot of Advil and eating a lot of sugar because we were on a three-day retreat. The day after the retreat ended, I got this bad stomach ache in the middle of the night. I went to the bathroom and it turned out I had this massive internal bleeding. I ended up in the hospital. They’re talking about doing emergency surgery on me and doing a blood transfusion. They said, “Let’s give it a couple of days and see if we can get the bleed under control.” I’m going out of my mind with boredom because I’m a guy that can’t sit still. I said, “Bring in my manuscript that I’m working on the book and let me look at it.” The manuscript was about detailing the health of seniors.
When they brought it in, I said, “This book is about not detailing the lives of seniors. It’s maybe taking some of the lessons they’ve learned, but it’s about looking at people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and how they live along in their life. I think this incident that’s happened to me is trying to tell me something about the direction in which this book should go.” That started a journey for me where I changed a lot of life habits from reducing my sugar intake. I lost 45 pounds over the next couple of years. I changed a lot of my activities. I started meditating. I went in and got acupuncture on a weekly basis because they told me I was going to have a good portion of it. I went to the Mayo Clinic and they said, “We’d like to take out two feet of your colon.” I said, “Let’s put that off a couple of days.” I went back to this acupuncturist and she said, “No, we don’t have to take out a portion of your colon, we’ll control it through acupuncture.” Knock on wood, I haven’t had any bleeds, haven’t had any major incidences since then. It was the foundation for writing this book.
That’s an incredible story. Sometimes people will take a prognosis or diagnosis as fact. You said, “That’s the prognosis or diagnosis, but let me see what I can do to figure this out and make a shift.” I’m glad you were able to do that.
For your audiences, one of the things you have to do is to resource. If you’re diagnosed with cancer, if you’re diagnosed with some other disease, doctors are human. Their intentions are good, but they may not have the only answer or all the answers. You’ve got to resource what your options are.
I found too within that, what you’re willing to believe about yourself and your own capacity far exceeds a lot of other resources out there. It sounds like you said, “I’m going to believe in myself to figure this out.”
I have a paragraph in my book that said, “You always have to be your own best doctor,” because no one knows your baseline like you. No one knows your normals like you. You have the power to heal your own body and I truly believe that.
I totally 100% agree with that statement. Anyone out there reading should learn that and honor it because you are your own best doctor.
Just to clarify, that doesn’t mean you’re going to start writing your own prescriptions and making your own diagnosis or whether you have to have surgery or not. It means knowing your own body. That’s what it means. It means knowing what your body needs and how to contribute to it in a positive way. I have friends that, unfortunately, have had cancer and they get done with their cancer treatment and they start down in candy bars. I go, “You know sugar is a cancer accelerator, you’re killing yourself.” They’re like, “I went through my treatment and I’m going to treat myself now.” I’m like, “You’re not treating yourself, you’re killing yourself.” What does my body need?
One of the most significant things I do when I train people and I invite your audiences to do this. Take 60 seconds in silence. Close your eyes. Take out a piece of paper and ask your body this question, “What is hurting me right now?” People are always shocked after that 60 seconds is over what they write down. Sometimes it’s 15, 20, 30 things. “My toenails are hurting on my right little toe. My digestive system is in upheaval. My knees are paining me.” The problem is we are so busy, we don’t give our body an audience to tell you what it needs. This is the partnership we have with our mind and body. We get so disconnected from our bodies that we don’t give them that audience. When you give that audience and you’re like, “It’s your child.” You have to say, “How can I help you heal it?” I shouldn’t go for that ten-mile run if my knees are paining me that bad. Maybe I should put some ointment on it. Give your body a chance to tell you what it needs and then attend to it.
You can make a healthy decision based on that. Dwayne, I’ve got one more question. This one I ask everyone because I think it’s so important. That question is, what’s your inspiration?
I talk a lot about living artifacts. We’re all on this planet a very short time and relevant to everything in life. I try to say, “What’s my living artifact going to be after I’m off this planet?” Is it the book, the foundation, the charity? Is it a play? Is it a sculpture? Is it a movie? What is it? I would encourage people to ask themselves that question. Sometimes, we get too caught up in the 9:00 to 5:00 and the raising the kids and we don’t think about our living artifact. You have an opportunity to create your living artifact and think about what that’s going to be. Maybe there are ten of them. My inspiration has tried to create my living artifacts every day.
For anyone reading who wants to connect with you, find you, find your book, find your podcast, will you let them know where they can find you?
I have a podcast that’s launching called Walk This Way. It deals with some of the world’s most successful CEOs, athletes, pro athletes and people from the entertainment world. I had a Hollywood producer on. All my books, you can find on Amazon. The book, 30 Summers More. My book that’s being made into a movie is called My Mother, My Son. It’s done really well, it’s also on Amazon. I have five other books on there. You can always reach me at my website, which is DwayneJClark.com. It tells you a little bit more about me and you can hit me up through that.
Thank you so much, Dwayne, for coming on and sharing all your wisdom and knowledge. We look forward to talking with you soon.
It’s been a pleasure. Keep up the good work you’re doing.
Thank you very much.
- Dwayne Clark
- Aegis Living
- True Productions
- My Mother, My Son
- 30 Summers More
- March for Civility
- The Art of Fermentation
- HeartMath Institute
- Walk This Way
About Dwayne J. Clark
Raised near the wheat fields of Eastern Washington, the youngest of four children, Dwayne was raised by a loving, single mother who worked long, hard hours as a line cook. Though Dwayne is now one of Seattle’s best-known and most successful CEOs, he grew up poor with often not enough money for food.
Once, when they were completely without money or food, his mother stole several potatoes from the restaurant, vowing to return them later, and made potato soup, which Dwayne ate for a week. Dwayne says that something his mother said to him about those times has stuck with him and guided his entire life.
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