Dara Merin

COOKING + NUTRITION

Do you think about food all of the time? I get you, cause for years I did too! Life for me used to be all about recipes and restaurants, and for years I was a professional cook and had a business teaching nutritionally-minded cooking classes. I incorporated herbalism, superfoods, and a myriad of other approaches with the classical training I got at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY and the nutrition studies I did through Bauman College. I was part of my local chapter of the Weston Price Foundation and had a contagious passion for old-school traditional foods. I taught in my beautiful home kitchens, using organic, local, nutrient-dense, delicious foods full of vibrance and color and was a well-loved teacher who was never dogmatic but truly sought to thoroughly educate my students so they could make their own wise choices around what to cook and eat for themselves and their families. I never stopped learning voraciously ways to improve my health and share what I learned with others.

But then my seemingly endless nutrition studies led me down a road where I realized that our health and well-being depends on so much more than what we eat. It’s the air we breath, the water we drink, the thoughts we think, the friends we have — every single thing we feel or see or experience, every moment of our life affects our genetic expression which in turn affects our health and how we feel. So I stopped cooking and teaching full time and went on a deeper journey into understanding wellness... 

MENTORS

Here are some of the folks whose work has had the biggest influence on me over the past decade and inspired my current path. Maybe you will be inspired to check out their work!

Daniel Vitalis, Rewild Yourself: “Rewilding” is about embracing our ancient human roots and unlocking the potential of our innate human biology. Daniel has an interesting and unique point of view that us humans are unwittingly locked in a zoo of our own making, no longer living and thriving in our natural human habitat, and that it's imperative to activate our primal biology by creating a lifestyle that is more in harmony with what our brains and bodies actually evolved for. I agree! This work is way beyond a simple Paleo-style diet or any one thing. Over the years, I've learned from him about the importance of spring water and wild water, the necessity of sunshine, how moving away from community-based tribal living habits has detrimentally affected us, how crucial natural movement is (preferably barefoot), how entheogenic plant medicine experiences have been integral to the evolution of human consciousness, different perspectives on sexuality, and so much more. This man articulates so much of what is true in my heart. I highly recommend checking out some of his podcasts to see if you resonate. 

Nadine Artemis, Living Libations: I discovered Nadine around the time that I had a sinking feeling that the toxic, chemical-laden products and potions that I was rubbing all over my body were detrimental to my health and vowed to ditch all of the hormone-disrupting stuff I normally procured from the drugstore and department stores once and for all. Her essential oil-based natural skin and body care line has changed my life and endlessly inspired my own creations! Using anything formulated by her is a divine treat, and likely you will not miss the toxic counterparts. I have learned so much from Nadine about body care for women, not to mention dental care — Successful Self Dentistry, she calls it. There are educational articles and links to podcasts about self care for women on her site as well. Crucial info for us ladies in particular, imho.

Dave Asprey, Bulletproof: When I discovered the Dave Asprey's podcast, it was seriously like the answer to my prayers. Finally, science-backed nutrition and science-based theories that present solutions for many common health-related problems that made perfect sense to me given what I'd been studying! His podcast guests are doctors, biochemists, PhDs, and countless leading experts in the fields of nutrition, anti-aging, consciousness, fitness, meditation, and more from all over the world — I love listening to episodes of Bulletproof Radio! So much of what they talk about is about increasing your resilience and getting in control of your biology and what's happening both inside and outside your body (biohacking) with the goal of having more energy, controlling stress, getting leaner, balancing your hormones, and upgrading your brain so you can think more clearly, make better decisions, sleep more deeply, have better relationships, do more fulfilling work, and just feel happier. I don’t know about you, but I wanted (and still do want) ALL of those things!
I even spent all of 2016 working with Dave and his team and that I am now a Certified Bulletproof Coach. I never imagined that I’d align myself with a brand, but the wide breadth of the program they offer fit perfectly with my extensive background in cooking and nutrition, not to mention all the other stuff that I’ve been learning over the years, and I'm so glad I did it. Aside from all of the information, personally it was a hugely transformational experience, and they taught me to be a pretty skilled and effective Life Coach.

PERSONAL GROWTH, SELF-REALIZATION + INTIMACY

For almost twenty years, since 1999, I've been on a path of personal growth and making peace with my past. Healing negative patterns. Moving beyond stories and expectation and learning to be present in the moment at hand. Working towards healthier relationships, greater intimacy, and stronger community connections. Discovering who I really am underneath it all.

Below are some of the main programs, courses, and methods that have helped me evolve into who I am today. 

Landmark: The Forum and The Advanced Course opened me up to new possibilities
Non-Violent CommunIcation: taught me tools for expressing empathy, being more kind to others and my own self, and honestly sharing my experience and expressing myself without blaming others
Circling: This is a unique small group experience of really "being seen" and skills for authentic, conscious intimacy
The Hoffman Process: an intense weeklong experience for those serious about change and committed to healing
Human Awareness Institute: Personal growth focused on love, intimacy, and sexuality
Ecstatic Dance: Ecstatic dance and other free-form, alcohol-free dance practices such as Soul Motion have been profoundly challenging, opening and liberating for me. Worth the initial embarrassment for the profound shifts that follow!
Ayahuasca: the Sacred Valley of Peru was a magical place for plant medicine work
Ziva Meditation: online meditation course inspired by Vedic meditation methods