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Host your own $1,000 Goop-style health retreat for almost free

By Jenni Avins in Los Angeles

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I spent last Saturday at “In Goop Health,” the wellness conference hosted by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop empire.

This was the third year I’ve attended the Los Angeles event, and it was the best yet. The conference seems to be moving away from woo-woo wellness-Coachella and toward a useful series of seminars and workshops. Sure, there were still ladies pulling down their leggings for B12 shots and I attended two sessions with intuitive mediums—it’s Goop, after all—but I got some practical takeaways too.

Getty Images for goop/Phillip Faraone

I’m a fan of Elizabeth Gilbert now. I am better at distilling an argument. I received the nicest compliment I’ve ever gotten from a stranger. I rolled around in a tent awash in blue light, and ate a grain salad with surprise citrus sections and a single bite of a raw vegan donut. (Sufficient!) I drank a revelatory date shake and sat at an outdoor table texting my husband while trying to place the familiar face of the “Millionaire Matchmaker” Patti Stanger. He identified her based on my short description alone, proving that he is indeed my ideal match.

Was all this worth the price of a free press pass? Absolutely! I learned a lot and had a great day. But an actual ticket to this extravaganza costs $1,000. So here today, I’ll share some highlights and tips to help you reap the benefits and DIY your very own GoopFest 2019 for almost free. All you need is an open mind, a friend (or just another open-minded person), a blender and six ingredients, a foam roller, and anyone’s Netflix login. If you want to throw in a face mask, do it!

Let’s get vulnerable.

Getty Images/Archive

Watch Brené Brown’s new Netflix special The Call to Courage

Getty Images for Netflix/Joe Scarnici

Brown—researcher, storyteller, super-famous TED Talker, New York Times bestselling author, and, as of last month, Netflix motivational speaker—was not actually at GoopFest, but she was like the spirit guide of the entire day. It was all about setting aside fear so we could really connect with ourselves, each other, our creativity, the divine, or even a voice from the beyond.

GP (that’s Gwyneth) quoted Brown within seconds of taking the stage and it was obvious that to get Goopy in 2019, you need to be familiar with Brown’s research about how shame holds us back from facing our fears and self-actualizing. The Call to Courage is a great primer. (Also, you will more deeply appreciate Brown’s cameo in the new Amy Poehler comedy, Wine Country, if you watch.)

Handle your fear like Elizabeth Gilbert

For Quartz, I wrote about how keynote speaker Elizabeth Gilbert learned to live with the perpetual fear that comes with creativity. TLDR: Talk to your fear with patience and compassion, like you would a toddler.

Getty Images for goop/Phillip Faraone

The Eat, Pray, Love author has found a path to peaceful co-existence with fear by understanding it first as a rudimentary, reptilian brain function:

“That’s why if you try to sit down and write a poem, it literally feels like you’re going to die,” Gilbert said. “Your fear only has one job and that is: No, don’t, don’t, don’t, don’t, death, murder, mayhem, back it up, shut down, stay on the couch, be safe, don’t die. And so the relationship that I’ve established over the years is just a very loving conversation with that—a very maternal way that I speak to that, because I know that it’s just not that smart.

“I just talk to it like it’s my dumb cousin who played hockey and just isn’t that bright, and I’m like, ‘I know. I know it’s scary, but you know what? Mommy’s got this.’ … As soon as I say, ‘It’s okay for you to be here, and you can stay with me and we’re going to do this together,’ it just relaxes and it goes to sleep like a toddler in a car-seat.”

Argue effectively by finding your “true north”

I sat in a “confident communication” workshop with two trial lawyers, Courtney Rowley and Teresa Bowen Hatch. Rowley opened the session by saying, “we sue the shit out of insurance companies all the time” and adding that they only get paid if they win. (She was wearing a gold Rolex.) Here is an exercise that left me feeling empowered and another woman crying behind her sunglasses—I think in a good way.

First, buddy up. (This will work best if you only read/do one of the three steps at a time. I can’t stop you from cheating and looking ahead; just know I’d be disappointed.) Now think of a tough conversation that you’ve been avoiding or struggling with—maybe it’s with your partner, a boss, or a loved one:

1. Have your buddy set a timer for one minute and 20 seconds, and describe the situation.
2. Have your buddy set a timer for 30 seconds, and describe the situation.
3. Describe the situation in a single word.

Bam! I found this to be very profound, and like I said, at least one person cried. Afterward, Hatch said that distilling a situation down to a single word can give you a “true north” when it comes to a tough conversation. It leaves room for discussion, spontaneity, even tears, but you know where you’re headed and the single thing that you need to communicate. (My one word was “unrecognized,” but we can unpack that another day.)

Use your intuition to really connect

AP Photo/Anthony Camerano

I sat in two sessions with mediums and, admittedly, I can’t articulate much of what happened there. But I can tell you that your intuition is probably stronger than you give yourself credit for. Here is another exercise we did with strangers (!) for you to try with your DIY GoopFestTM partner.

Ask if you can touch them, and if they say yes, then touch them somewhere non-offensive and make eye contact. (My partner and I touched arms.) Then, tell them something nice that you sense to be true about them. My partner told me—no shit—that she thought I was “genuinely curious, and that comes from a place of compassion and caring about other people. You’re an empath.”

If a stranger can do this for me, imagine what you can do for a pal.

Foam-roll into the weekend

I signed up for a session with Lauren Roxburgh (or “Lo Rox”), who wears white leggings like it’s no big deal and endorses using a foam-roller to perform miracles: beating jet-lag, having better sex, ending “tech neck,” and recovering from a hangover. Her new thing is rolling around with other tools, so we used a “body sphere” at In Goop Health—but you’re likelier to have ready access to a foam roller so let’s start there.

Lo Rox’s YouTube videos are many—there’s a veritable library of them on Goop—but here’s a five-minute sequence of exercises to get you started. If you’ve been sitting all week, I might suggest the “rolling figure four.”

Make a date shake that’s bananas

The best thing I ate or drank in Goop land was something called a “wolverine superfood shake” that contained banana, raw almond butter, medjool dates, maca, raw cacao nibs, raw coconut butter, and almond milk.

Food52/James Ransom

If you want to buy all that stuff, great. But the DIY GoopFest way is to approximate the results with this Food52 recipe—if you’ve got it, add almond butter for some protein and heft.

May your GoopFest be a great success. Let the words of the 24-year-old who ended the day on a sofa with me and an intuitive medium be your guide: “My insides felt vulnerable the entire time, but I felt free.”

Have a great weekend!

PS: Or, we could just go to the movies

Olivia Wilde was on In Goop Health’s final all-star panel, where she too talked about shame—the shame, oddly, that comes with the wildly positive reviews of her directorial debut, Booksmart, which is out in theaters today. “Why am I ashamed?” she asked. “Why am I feeling this tickle of ‘I’m sorry?’” But Wilde quickly turned it around, took a deep breath, and said the things she knew she should say, and feel, when her work was well-received: “Yep, worked really hard, worked really hard—fought really hard for the things people like about it. Thank you, and you’re welcome.” Everyone applauded.

Annapurna Pictures/Francois Duhamel