Episode 8: Balancing the Scales: The Power of Ayurveda with Mark Bunn

In this episode of The Balanced Leader Podcast, Mark Bunn, a former professional AFL player and expert in Ayurvedic medicine and Dharmic living, shares his insights and experiences that led him to explore Eastern medicine and a better way of living. 


Mark emphasises the importance of integrating wellness into daily life and focusing less on the ceaseless and conflicting health advice, and focusing more on tuning into the body and our natural rhythms. He discusses the significance of Ayurveda, the body’s natural rhythms, the impact of social connections and the role of biophilic design in workplaces. 


Mark also explores the concept of ‘earthing’ or ‘grounding’, the role it plays in our physical health and wellbeing and how we can get more grounded. In the last part of the interview we talk about the key areas of recovery, reconnection, and reinvention in enhancing our wellbeing.


1:17  Introduction and Mark’s background

6:18  Understanding Ayurveda

13:50  Why a good evening routine is more important than a morning routine

18:24  Managing blue light exposure

20:41  Maintaining wellbeing while travelling

23:46  The power of grounding

28:07  Understanding nature’s cycles

29:37  The 3 critical areas for wellbeing: recovery, reconnection, and reinvention

34:03  The paradox of information overload and health

39:01  The 80% rule you should be following

47:19  The importance of boundaries and disconnecting

49:35  Mark’s number one tip for wellbeing

Mark Bunn



Rob Hills: All right. Welcome Mark to The Balanced Leader Podcast. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Mark Bunn: Absolute pleasure to be here.

Rob Hills: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became interested in Ayurveda and Dharmic living?

Mark Bunn: Yeah, I as a young boy, I had one desire apart from girls. I had desire for to play AFL football and despite my limited ability, I was lucky enough to spend six years AFL, not to any great heights, but within that, I also realized how demanding elite level sport was on the body and the mind and the pressure.

And so alongside that, I was studying Western health science at the same time. But at the end of that, also somewhat frustrated that, you know, Western health science seemed to change its advice every week. When I speak at seminars, I often say, uh, you know, if you don’t like. The health advice that comes out from Harvard or Yale or Stanford, don’t worry, just wait another couple of months and I’ll tell you something different or the exact opposite of what they told you two months ago.

So, um, I found it quite confusing and often contradictory. And I think a lot of people listening find it the same. So. That sort of led me into a different path where I was sort of exploring the, the Eastern traditions of healthcare and Eastern medicine and, um, sort of some travels overseas, observing sort of the traditional cultures in Indonesia and Cambodia and Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam, and just really taken by their simple wisdom of life, you know, most of them were quite happy, even though they had very little and, um, came back to Australia.

And of course, we have nice cars and good houses and good jobs and, um, So much sort of stress and obesity and depression and mental health things that we see today. So that got me into Ayurvedic medicine. I actually started at 19 doing something called Transcendental Meditation, um, to help my football.

And, uh, it was very weird. Sounds weird now, but it was even weirder 30 years ago, of course. Um, but I loved it. It was the best thing I’ve ever done. Just helped me sort of get away from the pressure of football and a bit more composure and And so that sort of went into the rest of my life. But the teacher who taught me gave me a book on Ayurvedic medicine related to sport and high performance sort of fitness, which I was studying.

So it was a great marriage. And I just had those light bulb moments where you’re reading about high performance, but not from the Western perspective of push the body, you know, do more with less and sort of. You know, end up on the couch for three days to try and recover. It was about mind body integration and different foods for different body types, and how we’re all got a unique constitution of what we need for our own sense of balance and performance can be very different from our partners at home, our partners at work, our children.

And so, It was just fascinating to me. So I then sort of deep dive into Ayurvedic medicine and, um, sort of led me to where we are today.

Rob Hills: So were you actively playing AFL at the time when you came across Ayurveda?

Mark Bunn: I was, yeah, I had moved to Hawthorne. So in my second year at Hawthorne was when I got the book and yeah, started to begin implementing some of the practice. One of them was nasal breathing, which I think I was probably one of the first. People in Australia sort of using and implementing yogic nasal breathing.

It’s very popular today, but yeah, 30 years ago at pre season training at Hawthorne, I was, I was the weirdo of the group and getting some strange looks and, um, yeah, yoga sun salutes. And I said, I was meditating in the change rooms before games. And, um, so yeah, I had a couple of years. Sort of with the Ayurvedic principles.

I hadn’t studied it formally then, but just sort of doing my own informal research and practices. And, um, yeah, it was, uh, it was a very interesting, uh, uh, said integration with, with AFL. Yeah.

Rob Hills: it’s interesting. When I first came across meditation, I was serving in the Defence Force and certainly wasn’t something I was that comfortable talking about with my mates. So how did you find that? Were you, obviously, you know, you’re a little bit more out there and doing it on the field and in the change rooms before, what do you might say about it?

Mark Bunn: Um, yeah, well, I was like you with the meditation piece. I didn’t tell my mates, they didn’t know anything about it. I’d just sneak off. Although I bang it off to, you know, Pat Benatar or kicking footballs into the walls. But, um, yeah, the nasal breathing and the sort of yoga. I’ve got a few questions about, um, but yeah, I tended to, um, you know, just be considered a bit of, bit of the weirdo.

And, um, they sort of asked more out of mirth and, you know, having a jibe at me rather than any interest to, to do it themselves, I think so.

Rob Hills: Yeah, it’s exactly right. It’s funny. I wonder how many of them now probably do similar practices 30 years later.

Mark Bunn: Yeah, totally.

Rob Hills: So for someone just starting with Ayurveda or who perhaps haven’t heard of it before, what is it exactly? And where would you suggest they start if this piqued their interest?

Mark Bunn: Yeah. So those that have heard of Ayurveda often associate it with India’s traditional system of health care. And I think of sort of herbs and maybe, you know, different body types and different foods for different types. But I always like to start with a deeper sort of more foundational understanding and getting people to just understand our connection with nature and the world and the universe.

You know, we see that there’s an intelligence to life, you know, seasons come at certain times, planets revolve around the sun, [00:06:00] a baby’s born and it grows in a certain sort of organized, systematic, intelligent manner. Most of the time, you know, the arms are in a certain place, the heart, the brain. And so there’s something that we can’t see or touch, which regulates and governs all of life.

You know, the tides. digestion, everything. And so that’s really Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the knowledge of those fundamental laws of nature that govern everything in the universe. And we humans are a part of that fabric of intelligence. So Ayurveda is understanding all these primordial laws that govern the seasons and what influence those seasons have on us as individuals.

Um, the planets, what influence the planets have on. Us and how we think and our emotions, how the cycle of the sun and the moon, those daily rhythms, those daily cycles that happen every day and every month, a woman goes through a [00:07:00] monthly cycle and how all those rhythms gov change how we digest food, how it can support proper sleep and deep sleep, or if we violate those laws by choosing, say, the wrong foods or eating at the wrong times or sleeping at the wrong times or stress Then it’s like swimming.

I say swimming against the currents and in again, seminars that I do in corporates, it’s always the big wave on the ocean and the wave represents nature or the support of nature. If a surfer can time their, um, picking the wave. and catch the wave at its peak, nature does all the work for the surfer, fun, enjoyable, exhilarating.

And life, according to the ancient, you know, the Rishis, the Ayurvedic sages, and throughout most traditional medicine systems, it’s exactly the same. Our minds and bodies, according to Ayurveda, go through six, four hour cycles each day. And it’s like that wave on the ocean. is peaking for [00:08:00] certain things.

It’s sometimes it’s to digest food and assimilate nutrients. Other times it’s to get rid of waste products. Other times it’s to promote deep sleep and revitalization. And so if we can understand when these waves are peaking, like the surfer, and align our routines, daily, monthly, seasonal, to those waves, then we get the support of nature and life becomes actually how it’s designed according to the Ayurvedic Rishis, that life’s meant to be enjoyable and to have flow and to be exhilarating and to be blissful, not the opposite.

When we go against the waves or we try and swim against the currents and you know, the convention becomes life’s hard work and it’s stressful and I can’t sleep and I’m anxious and et cetera, et cetera. So, um, that’s really what Ayurveda is. And it’s, it’s very simple in principle, but not always easy in Practice.

And so the second part of your question is how can people begin? [00:09:00] Obviously, there’s books and websites, but I just always come back to tuning into themselves. Ayurveda really is that wisdom within each of us that’s telling us in every moment of our lives what to eat. Whether we need to rest and, you know, do yin yoga or have a sleep rather than go to the high intensity spin class.

Or is it, you know, telling us to do certain work and vocations rather than others? Um, relationships, you know, there’s a gut instinct, an intuition, a just a inner wisdom that, oh yeah, this person’s fun and compatible and this, uh, And it’s just quite amazing how often we override that inner wisdom. So at the basis of Ayurveda, it can get very complex when you get into, you know, body types and all this, but at its basis is self referral, we call it, which is just.

trusting that inner, you know, wisdom, um, and, and flowing with those [00:10:00] cycles, you know, that natural rhythm that, uh, once we do like traditional cultures who just live very connected to those natural rhythms, health becomes just a byproduct of living life. You know, it’s not something we have to spend hours and hours a day trying to be healthy.

Which is where we get to in the West, um, you know, with our sleep apps and this fat and not that fat and counting galleries and 10, 000 steps a day. And you get home, you’ve only done 9, 055 steps and you walk around your bed 50 times. You know, it’s like, it just becomes more stressful. And, uh, and the goal is obviously to, to reduce stress.

Rob Hills: yeah, absolutely. It’s funny. I remember when I first got a smartwatch, um, and it could tell me how many flights I went up and down of stairs a day. I would actually walk to the top of the stairs and raise my arm to try and get another flight stairs and then walk back down. Very proud of myself, but perhaps over complicating things.

So are you made us more about getting back to basics? It’s about self awareness and sort of tuning [00:11:00] into what’s happening with the body. Is that right? Yeah.

Mark Bunn: Yeah. That’s a very, very big part of it. Um, there is, there is the wisdom of very specific, um, guidelines, you know, in the ancient texts thousands of years ago, uh, you know, specific foods to eat for different body types, different foods we might eat in different seasons of the year. You know, I’m in Melbourne at the moment, just come back from India and Bali, Brisbane, Gold Coast, all hot climates at the moment.

So the foods we eat in summer, obviously, should be cooling foods. You know, coconut juices, coconut curries, green bitter foods to take the heat out of the body. You know, in winter when we want to warm the body up and nourish the body, it’s more denser foods and warming foods and a bit more spiced. Um, but sometimes we’re so, um, focused on, you know, the calories and, you know, this fat’s good and this fat’s bad.

And we’re just going to have much sugars in it. [00:12:00] And we forget also these very simple wisdoms of. Of just balance and heat and cool and seasons. And so, yeah, there are very specific guidelines on certain things, but yeah, that the fundamental wisdom is just. It’s inbuilt, you know, a lot of our, um, best knowledge is just what we call the own, our own inner doctor, you know, we know only we can tell it ourselves, whether we’ve had enough to eat and when we’re full and when we’re, you know, maybe need to fast for a little while, or when we need more invigorating vigorous exercise or when we need to just chill out and rest.

So, um, yeah, the simplicity is there as well.

Rob Hills: Yeah, absolutely. So what is your well being practice look like then if a Vader is at the core? Um, what do you do on a daily basis? Is it a fairly similar routine most days?

Mark Bunn: Uh, yeah, it’s quite, yeah, it’s quite similar. I travel a lot with my work and speaking, obviously. So the travel definitely [00:13:00] is my biggest challenge. That’s a big routine upsetter. But yeah, generally speaking, uh, we have a saying, or a good friend of mine from the U. S. that I present with, she says, in contrast to the Western focus on having a good morning routine, Which is great.

Ayurveda says even more important than a good morning routine is a good evening routine. Because as she says, in Ayurveda, the day starts the night before. If we don’t have a good evening routine, which I’ll sort of get into in a moment, then If we’re not waking up fresh and, you know, somewhere around sunrise or a little laughter, which we’re naturally designed to do, and you know, we’ve got good energy and we’re clear, then you can have the best strategies for the morning routine in the world, but often won’t do you much good.

So in Aveda, this really nice contrast of the focus to begin with is on the evening. If we get the evening [00:14:00] right, which is principally around two things. One is. lightening the evening meal. So it’s changing now, which is great over the last decade or so, but still most people eat their main meal in the evening.

So we spoke about this connection to the natural cycles. One of them is the cycle of the sun, the sun in the middle of the day. We look at it strong, hot, that sun represents energy and vitality. And the connection to the human body is the internal sun, the digestive fire that cooks our food. And so in the middle of the days when we’re actually designed physiologically.

to digest those heavier foods, you know, to assimilate those nutrients and get the energy for the day. At night when the sun sets, obviously that digestive fire in us is also setting. It’s getting weaker and slowing down because the body’s Gearing up to have a good night’s sleep. And so [00:15:00] the game changer for everyone.

And I’ve seen it so many times, just lightening up the evening meal, heavier foods, the meats, the cheesy type dishes, the parmigianas, the desserts, have those or at lunchtime or during the day when there’s some heat in the sun. And then the mealtime, if it can be more soups or light stir fries and those sorts of things, or people that intermittent fast.

bringing their last meal of the day. Often the current regime is like 8pm, have your last meal, skip breakfast, have lunch the next day. Ayurveda would say you can get 30, 40, 50 percent more benefits from intermittent fasting by having your last meal at say 6pm or even 7pm. But so you’ve fully digested that food before 10pm, which is when the night time rejuvenation cycle, that wave we spoke about.

Is that it’s peak and that wave naturally is doing what we want to do in a fast to detox to get rid of [00:16:00] stress and fatigue and impurities and wastes and so we don’t want to compromise that natural. Inbuilt cycle by having our last meal at 8 PM at night. So if we’re going to bring that earlier, get all the benefits naturally, and then we, then you can just break the fast, which is what breakfast is designed to do, you know, eight, nine, 10 AM in the morning.

So you still get your 15, 16 hour window, which is what is commonly prescribed as the protocol. Um, but you get a lot more benefits and then you come out to lunch without. Having gone 16 hours without any food and then having a really big meal, which is not necessarily always ideal, but yeah, lightening up the evening meal game changer.

And if that can be piggybacked by then also having. Sort of earlier to bed than most people do. So that 10 PM is a real key time in Ayurveda. It’s when [00:17:00] we go into a different cycle, um, to start doing what sleep’s designed. So if we can get to bed somewhere around 10, um, even fractionally earlier is just means we’re maximally riding that wave.

And then we get really, really good quality sleep. And therefore it sets up having the good morning routine and our whole day flows from there.

Rob Hills: Yeah, awesome. So something the Rishis probably didn’t really have to deal with back in their time was blue light. So what’s the recommendations around, because we’re all on our devices, like we’re all part of society, we’re all, you know, scrolling or whatever, watching TV, Netflix, what’s the recommendation there?

When should people sort of start to wind that up? If they, if they’re aiming for bed at say 10 o’clock, when should they start winding up with a blue light?

Mark Bunn: Yeah, great question. And yeah, very much, um, brings in this idea of practical living in a Western world. So yeah, beautiful timing of bringing that. So yeah, we [00:18:00] have to live in the Western world. So what can we do about blue light? First part of the question is around 7 p. m. Is ideal to try to start making this switch from, yeah, the work family sort of Days done now at least starting my wind down towards sleep if we can’t Fully do away with the devices, which is understandable laptop phone, etc First recommendation is just getting blue light filters That go over your smartphone, you know, 20 bucks on Amazon.

Same if laptop computers or desks tops, you can get sort of anti blue light filters. I actually have, um, glasses too, that you can buy online again, 20. So if you’re watching the TV or whatever, just a fairly practical way of reducing the, the blue light, uh, and then you can get, um, obviously dimmers. If you’re spending where you’re living.[00:19:00]

Um, home flat, but if you can get lights that dim at night, um, really good. There’s a lot of new, newer homes that you can actually get, um, full spectrum lighting, which is fantastic. Um, but also you can get circadian lighting, um, way that actually changes. Um, colorational spectrum of light throughout the day, according to the circadian rhythm.

So at night, obviously, it becomes more, um, orange light, anti blue, etc. So, um, not practical for everyone. But yeah, so the anti blue light, um, screens and glasses, um, would be the most practical, simple way to

Rob Hills: Great. Uh, you mentioned travel before and that you do quite a bit, so there’ll be a fair few leaders listening to this podcast who have to travel with work and have probably felt the effects of traveling and, you know, you’re not in your own zone, so you’re not doing the same things, you’re not eating the same foods.

[00:20:00] What are some of your go to suggestions or what are some of the things that you just need when you’re traveling to help you perform at your best?

Mark Bunn: Yeah, so actually on the flight itself, if it’s airplane travel, which for most of the time it is, um, number one is just, um, hydration. We often don’t realize how dehydrating, um, air cabins are, and just, it’s so simple, you know, just drinking more fluids to stay hydrated. I often actually carry, um, sort of a little.

thing of sesame oil and and rose water. So I’m sort of just spraying my face as well and oils because the body that dries out the skin travel just really dries the skin. So I’m doing little mini oil massages where it’s just the temples or I once I get to the hotel I actually do a full sort of. Body massage with oil, just to sort of replenish.

And that’s really, really helpful. Um, the other big things are, um, [00:21:00] slight and earthing. So if there’s the change of time zones involved in it, then once you land, if it’s a significant change. Then generally what you’re trying to do is set your watch to the new time zone in advance and start changing your schedule of eating, sleeping towards that new time zone as soon as you can.

And then depending on whether you want to sleep or you want to be active. When you land, you try and adjust your light exposure to compensate. Okay. So if, um, you’re getting to a time zone where, which is early morning, then you want to try and get outside as soon as you can get as much natural light sunlight to readjust those circadian rhythms.

Earthing is really, really powerful. So earthing, um, is just the practice of. Ideally taking our shoes and socks off, but just being near a natural environment, you know, [00:22:00] trees, plants, ideally the ground itself, um, which is great for resetting the circadian rhythm, just that air, we think of travel, space and air, you know, we feel a bit sort of spacey or a bit sort of airy, we’re not sort of quite grounded.

So just, you know, sitting down in a park when you get there to, you know, have your lunch, you’ll go for a walk barefoot, ideally, or if you’re near a beach or something with water, walking on the wet sand rather than the asphalt with your runners. Um, some really good ways to just sort of get the body to adjust quickly post.

Rob Hills: Yeah, you mentioned earthing there and it’s funny, that’s the first time I come across that concept was back in 2017 when I was at one of your keynotes in Melbourne and you talked about earthing. And I don’t know why, but it’s the thing that stuck out in my mind and, you know, it’s been seven years and still today.

Most, in fact, every day now, because I went out and bought a grounding sheet, but before that I was [00:23:00] out the back on the lawn, you know, shoes and socks off grounding, uh, tell us why is it so important to our well being? What’s the science? Tell us. I mean, obviously, ancient wisdom has been telling this for many, many years and the science is now catching up, but why is it so important for well being?

Mark Bunn: Yeah, well, I think it’s probably worth just diving into the history and the story behind it, which I think is fascinating. So, of course, we, you have known for quite a while there’s a distinct difference between the inflammatory chronic Western illnesses that we have in, you know, Australia and New Zealand and America and, and those in traditional cultures, you know, far less of that sort of inflammatory, what we might call free radical damage disease.

And so there’s a guy called Clint Ober. You know, 15, 20 years ago, and he’d retired. He was a TV cableman, um, originally, but he was in Sedona spending quite a bit of time with sort of a native Americans and observing that in contrast to our Western [00:24:00] ways of living, you know, sleeping on elevated beds, living in high rise buildings, walking around on the ground.

Whenever we walk, we wear the best insulators known to man and womankind, plastic or rubber sole choosed. He would observe that the indigenous of course, would. Walk around barefoot most of the day, they’d sleep on the ground, they’d eat their meals sitting on the ground. And just something clicked when he observed just this, maybe this connection to the earth was providing some benefit.

And then with his background in TV cables and you know, he realized that maybe it’s the, the earthing when you cable a TV or any electrical outlet, there’s an earthing or grounding wire. Which makes the whole thing completely safe because it’s drawing on excess, excess electrons or negative ions that then douse the sort of the problem in the, in the circuit and the same in the body, the body, when it gets sick or inflamed, there’s.

Insufficient negative ions that create these free radical [00:25:00] loops and the body starts to degrade its tissues So he started to make these little sort of homemade little wire beds Which were basically allowing you to ground even when you’re asleep and then obviously started to get it clinically tested and so probably the last 15 20 years.

Um, a lot of clinical evidence now on those that can earth themselves more regularly. Um, to particularly, you know, taking the shoes and socks off, walking barefoot on the ground. As you touched on, there’s now indoor earthing products so people can sleep on bedsheets or use pillowcases or even have them with their computers.

So a lot lower levels of pain in the body. Um, so arthritic pain, joint pain, um, right through various levels of types of pain. All different blood profiles in the body is significantly improved. And one of the most important, um, clinical benefits that often talk about with business people is [00:26:00] sleep. Those that are more grounded or earth have significantly better both quality and quantity of Which again makes perfect sense when we think of, you know, when we’re not able to sleep, we’ve had a busy few nights or been traveling, you know, what do we feel?

We feel sort of airy and spacey and away with various space and air. What’s the opposite of space and air? Earth, ground. So yeah, a lot of science now backing it up. But again, the Ayurvedic perspective of it is. You know, it just sort of makes sense, doesn’t it? The inner wisdom, the gut instinct. Oh, yeah. You know, children, what do they do when they’re young?

Run outside. First thing they do, take their shoes off. Socks. Cause they, it’s just natural connection. So, um, yeah. And simple, you know, what’s it cost you? Nothing. You just go have lunch in a park. Occasionally, as I said, you go down the beach, you walk on the sand. Um, without your Amazon, it’s, you [00:27:00] know, it’s simple, free and just really powerful benefits.

Rob Hills: Yeah. And I think despite the great scientific evidence now that is out there about earthing and grounding, uh, There’s this also sense that when I do it, I feel it like it just, there’s something about it that just feels nice being out there barefoot on the ground, and it sort of feels like it’s calming you down.

It’s probably again that connection to nature as well. Um, but it seems to make a difference whether the science says it or not. So this is probably another example of modern medicine catching up to ancient wisdom that’s been there for so long. You must see that a lot in, you know, the stuff that you teach.

Mark Bunn: Yeah, absolutely. Um, and yeah, I find it fascinating. One of the current ones today, which, yeah, back when I spoke with you and then, yeah, probably 25 years ago, I was speaking on, on this idea of natural cycles, you know, thousands and thousands of years ago, very. Detailed text saying what [00:28:00] we need to do at different parts of the day.

And health is not just about what we eat and how much sleep we get and what exercise we do even more important is when we do it, are we doing it when nature’s designed us to do it? So we get that support of nature or are we doing it in. Sort of opposition to nature’s intelligence. And so one of the latest parts of modern science, again, over the last decade or so, is something called circadian medicine or chronobiology. Research studies coming out every week about timing of things, you know, when you eat your calories has a massive determinant of whether you put on weight or you lose weight or you get diabetes or, you know, sleep is not just about getting your seven or eight hours, but when are you getting that? So, um, yeah, it’s great to see now the sort of coming together of ancient wisdom, modern, um, science, east and west and, uh, yeah, most of the time saying the same [00:29:00] thing.

Rob Hills: Fantastic. You talk about three critical areas for well being being recovery, reconnection and reinvention. Can you take us through each of these areas and what that could look like practically for leaders?

Mark Bunn: Yeah, so it’s, they’re from a new talk, um, I’ve released called self care. So particularly for leaders, but even, um, you know, middle management, particularly out of COVID, the buzzword was resilience. You know, we all have to build resilience as leaders and then sort of impart that to our teams that what they found.

And a colleague of mine, Dr. Adam Fraser, which I’m sure some of your listeners will, will know wonderful researcher and what he’s sort of really, um. broke or broke away the from the mold of this resilience was we just can’t keep putting on the armor and doing more and more. What we have to shift to is, is recovery and build little things into each and every day [00:30:00] where it might be two minutes here or a little meditation here or some bit of food, some sunlight, some earthing, where we just constantly just little recovery pieces.

Which then offsets the stress building up and what he showed in his research, you know, up to 44 percent reduction in burnout in the sort of medium to long term. So the first part about recovery is very much around, around that, just breaking things down, simple self care. Well, being strategies that we don’t leave to the end of the quarter or the end of the financial year or the end of the year, where we have a big six week holiday, it’s something we build into sort of sustaining high level.

Um, and so reconnection is, is really the social connection piece. I think most of us have heard now, you know, really the last few years, the, the number one, um, research globally is just the importance of relationships and social [00:31:00] connections. And in fact, the longest study ever done on wellbeing is still going today.

It’s 80, 80 years strong, um, still going and. The number one factor in long term well being, according to the Harvard study, nothing to do with blood pressure or cholesterol or, you know, this amount of sleep, but the number of, um, social connections we have and the quality of our relationships. Um, those sort of people we can rely on, particularly when times are, are tough.

So that’s a massive sort of 180. And I always say it in talks, you know, when we think of health, what do people think about? Oh, got to eat better, you know, got to get to the gym, you know, maybe get to bed a little bit earlier. But the research is showing the most, the first priority for all of us is checking our relationships.

You know, if we’ve got good ones. Nourish those. And you know, don’t be complacent and go home and tell your loved one that you love them and your kids [00:32:00] and, or who you appreciate. Ring, ring your best friend, um, creating new ones. If we need to create new ones or healing old ones that sort of have lost their way or even getting rid of ones that aren’t serving us, you know, the, I call them the energy suckers or the psychic vampires, the people that sort of take and take and take, and, you know, we give and give and give, and it just.

Tux is dry and we, so sometimes we have to introduce them to another friend network.

Rob Hills: Exactly.

Mark Bunn: so, yeah, so that the reconnection is, yeah, just reconnecting. If we’re not already connected, some people are and, and as I said, don’t be complacent about that, but really just be thankful and the gratitude piece around the good relationships.

But, um, yeah, reconnecting where we can to those social connections, the social ties, the sort of teamwork, all that sort of thing. And then, um, yeah, reinventions sort of just like a. I think where the future is going that we always have to have this mentality of, of [00:33:00] change, you know, the world’s changing at a faster and faster pace.

So we have to keep reinventing how we respond and adapt. And, and I believe that, you know, health and wellness is the, the core of that, because if we’re not, you know, sleeping well and got good energy and sort of, um, in balance personally and individually, it’s very hard to sort of keep up with that rate of change and adjust and do it, do it well.

So I think leaders. Being across those three is, um, is really powerful.

Rob Hills: Yeah, that’s great. Uh, you mentioned before about how we’re still, you know, really stressed, unhealthy, overweight, perhaps more than ever, yet we have so much access to information about health and well being. So why do you think that is? Why are we still suffering as much as we are? What’s, what’s the gap?

Mark Bunn: Yeah, well, I think it is changing. There’s a definitely a portion of the population and leaders are a good example. I think leaders over the last five, 10 years have realized that unless they do look after [00:34:00] themselves and have that sort of balance, that it’s impossible for them to lead their team effectively.

But so I think there’s a, uh, certainly a segment of the population that are really. You know, getting on top of stress and really focusing at a high level on, on wellbeing, but I think inbuilt India question is really part of the problem. It’s the overload of information. Um, that is challenging. I really, I observed in these traditional cultures was that they actually don’t focus on being healthy.

They wake up in the mornings with the natural cycles. They go about their day, you know, they work in the fields or whatever they do, which is inbuilt activity, you know, so they’re physically active, um, just as part of their routine. They don’t have to go to the gym for an hour or, you know, you’d never see them doing Pilates or not that any of that’s bad, but it’s inbuilt and the end of the day, they just come home.

They [00:35:00] connect with their loved ones. They sing and they dance and they. And then they go to bed with the natural cycles and health is just a natural byproduct of their focus on living a happy sort of joyous life. But we, and I make the joke in talks, you know, we get bombarded every moment by everything.

We get the sleep app to see whether we’re sleeping well. We’re so going to monitor that. And then we put on the computer and we graph it and we go for a run. We get all our heart rates and our. Heart rate variability and we graph that on the computer and we see if and then the thing bings and tell us we’ve got to do this and we’ve only done 9, We feel guilty because I haven’t done enough exercise and we have some sugar and a cake and we shouldn’t eat that.

And so it’s this overload and bombardment of what we should and shouldn’t do that often makes, creates the exact opposite of what we’re trying to achieve. And, um, so I think that’s where this, you know, and it’s a popular sort of, um, wisdom, you know, like 80%, you know, just. Do 80 percent of what you know is good for you, [00:36:00] 80 percent of the time, but the rest of it just have this sort of underlying role with things, you know, stress free, enjoy your life, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s sort of people, I think, understand it in theory, but we don’t always practice and I’m, and I’m.

Put my hand up myself, you know, I’ve gone through cycles where it’s, you know, it’s all very focused and got to eat this and be very diligent, but I’m the, I’m my healthiest when every now and then I just go and not that I’ve got any hair, but you know, let your hair down and

Rob Hills: Yeah.

Mark Bunn: have a pizza and, you know, have a drink with your friends or, you know, cake at birthdays and it’s not going to kill you.

It’s actually, if, if we’re balanced and our digestion is functioning well, and we’re in a good mood, I always have this example of. You go out with your friends, it’s a birthday party or something, it’s late at night, so you, you know, according to the theory, you shouldn’t eat too much late at night, but you’re with your friends, you’re having a laugh, you’re having a drink, you eat slowly, it’s nice food, [00:37:00] you eat too much, too late, but next morning, you wake up, you pat your belly and you think, ah, gee, I had a great sleep, I feel fantastic, it was a great night.

The next night, you do exactly the same thing, except you eat by yourself, on the couch, watching the TV. And you can’t get off the couch because it feels like a lump of concrete stomach. And so it’s this idea, and it’s the first chapter of my book, you know, nourish the heart before nourishing the body. And all through the traditional cultures, ancient wisdom, it’s all, yes, what we eat, how much sleep, all that’s important, but being happy, you know, doing things you love, joy, it actually changes the way we digest food and process things.

And, um, so, yeah, I think this is the sort of the antidote or the solution to the question you pose one. Just not buying into all the information, just understanding that the body has its own inner wisdom. You’re built in, [00:38:00] built in sleep app and you’ve Fitbit and all those things. Um, and then just, yeah, just not going to extremes, having that sort of space to just still enjoy life and have fun and realize that that is actually a health promoting activity.

Rob Hills: I think that’s really great advice. Um, particularly around the 80%. If you can get it right 80 percent of the time, you’re doing pretty well. I think the problem comes in, as you mentioned, when people are too hard on themselves. When something doesn’t go right, when they break routine. And, you know, they, the monkey mind, the inner voice comes on and starts berating you.

Oh, you shouldn’t have eaten that. You shouldn’t have done that. You know, you might as well give up or whatever. So how do we combat that? What’s the mindset here going in thinking, you know, we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to fall off the wagon. It’s okay. We’ve got to enjoy life. Get back on the horse.

Is that, is that the thinking?

Mark Bunn: Yeah. Um, the short answer is, is be more French. Um, [00:39:00] uh, again, in, in the book, I outlined this, there was a, uh, study done where they had a piece of chocolate cake, decadent, beautiful chocolate cake, and they showed it to French people. And the overwhelming response of the first thought they had when they saw the chocolate cake was, um, enjoyment, you know, pleasure, um, family, you know, celebration.

They showed the same. Cake to Americans and guilt was the overriding response. And so, um, yeah, it’s one is just, um, an intellectual understanding, any, anything in a cake, even sugar, you know, gets a bad rap. It’s the excessive consumption of it. And the fact our bodies are out of balance to process it. Um, but you know, it’s not going to kill you.

And how we emotionally connect to food has a incredible, um, um, effect. Um, but I think it’s, it’s [00:40:00] that the idea of 80 percent for, for people that do have that, and I have it myself, you know, that sort of the guilt response always sort of, you know, that fine line between getting the balance, I think 80 percent is a good way.

And that 80 percent is obviously different for different. People, what my 80 percent is might be different to someone else, but it’s just that idea of, you know, not being extreme. We’re never going to get it right all the time. And, uh, I think that, and trying to get the 80, 80, 20%, um, in the right order. Um, the way it came about for me was a great story.

This buddy of mine up in Queensland. Um, Like many people listening, a very busy business person and a lot of pressure. And he’d sort of put on weight and sort of get out of shape. And he’d call me up, bunny mate, I need your help. He’d fly me up the brism. We’d go through all these sort of things we’re talking about with meditation and sort of earth thing and, you know, eating better and sleep and, um.

I go back to Sydney at the time and he read me up a week later. He said, buddy, mate, I’m feeling fantastic. You [00:41:00] know, I’m getting a bit earlier and I’m meditating, eating better. I’m losing weight. Fantastic. I said, Jeff, keep it up. Fantastic. And then this went on four times, every time after two, three months, of course, it’d get too hard.

You know, life would get in the way and friends would drop over and he’d go off the program again, trying to do everything too perfectly. So after 12 months, I sat him down, said, Jeff, I don’t want you to do everything. I only want you to do 80 percent of what you know is good for you, and I only want you to do it 80 percent of the time.

And I could literally see the stress fall off his face because he knew that was more practical. You know, go and have a drink. And then anyway, a week and a half later, I get a phone call and it’s Jeff, 1030 at night. Bunny’s got bunny, bunny. Hey, what are you doing? He says, well, I’m just having a bit of pizza, a few beers with my mates.

I said, are you off the program again? He says, no, I’m not just doing my 20%. I think you might have got the 20 percent and the 80 percent uh, around the same way, but yeah, yeah, we get the idea.

Rob Hills: Yeah, absolutely. [00:42:00] Uh, you mentioned the book there a moment ago, uh, Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health. Tell us a bit more about it and why you wrote the book and who’s it for.

Mark Bunn: Yeah, well I wrote it, um, out of my frustration of What we touched on at the beginning of the podcast, just this, you know, the Western, confusion, I guess, of, you know, different research studies coming out one month after the next, almost saying the exact opposite of what I’ve told you before, and, and, you know, should we eat meat or shouldn’t we eat meat, you know, should we dairy or shouldn’t we dairy, should we exercise at a low intensity for a long period of time or a high intensity for us?

Like I was confused. So I was assuming everyone else was confused. And then of course, when I went. Sort of into the traditional cultures and started to study Ayurved, it was just so simple, you know, it was just like, Oh yeah, there’s this rhythm to life and there’s, you know, individual body types. And once we [00:43:00] can understand that, we can realize that.

What’s right for me. And so, yeah, that’s sort of what inspired me to write the book, that there was these timeless common sense, age old, simple wisdoms of life that have stood the test of time, you know, you can go back to Ayurvedic texts and traditional Chinese medicine and Tibetan wisdoms and indigenous wisdoms, you know, many continents and the same things that they were talking about then are still just as practical as you say, we need to adjust them for.

blue light or the fact we can’t get certain foods like they did, or, but the basic principles of this connection to nature and cycles and is all still really relevant. So yeah, that was the motivation. And, and so it became just seven of these sort of forgotten wisdoms, you know, where we’d sort of got.

Lost or off the track because we’re so consumed with the calories or [00:44:00] the sleep apps or whatever. So, yeah, ones around emotional health and diet, principles of diet, um, exercise, the connection to nature’s gifts is one chapter, you know, the sun and the earth and air, you know, probably moving air. The space we need in our lives to sort of function properly.

Great for leaders in terms of, you know, creativity and carving out chunks of time in their busy day to just have that creative time or that self care time, which, um, research is showing those little micro recoveries, just the boost in productivity and. Effective leadership and performance is, is worth its weight in gold.

So, um, and then, yeah, one’s on meditation and transcendence and sort of the nonphysical parts of, of life. And, um, yeah, so there are, it’s been, uh, been a really, um, quite successful book and, um, yeah, it’s, it’s been great.

Rob Hills: Yeah. And I would definitely recommend people pick up a [00:45:00] copy. Um, for me, it was learning more about Ayurveda and the way you, you describe it and explain it in such a simple way. It was very easy to digest and, um, and, and start applying some of these principles, uh, principles myself. So, Great book.

Definitely recommend people get it. Um, for leaders listening, what are some quick wins that they might be able to do with their teams to make a difference in their wellbeing? So as you can imagine, most people back in the office nowadays inside, uh, not exposed to natural light, uh, sitting for too long, the list goes on.

What are some of those things that they could potentially do in an office environment to integrate wellbeing into their, into their day?

Mark Bunn: Yeah. Another great question. Um, one would be to maybe. Look into what’s called biophilic design or biophilia. Um, the global wellness Institute, which is one of the top worldwide research institutes on wellbeing. Um, probably one of their biggest trends over the last decade has been this [00:46:00] whole idea of nature connection, which we touched on with the other thing, but it’s more broader than.

Earthing, you know, just all the elements of, um, you know, natural scenery and trees and plants and fresh air and sunlight, all that, but, um, that can in some ways be fairly easily integrated into existing offices with just trying to maximize natural light. Um, making sure there’s air flow, um, obvious one obviously is plants, you know, rather than just the little tiny little plan on people’s desks, you know, just bringing in more, um, plants, certain plants, very good for just purifying the air and again, strong correlations between those sort of things and, and productivity.

Um. You know, so even green walls, you know, the color scheme in offices, just having the color green, like on the back of my wall. So this is my sort of workspace or walls are green. The color green has been shown to make us calmer, more relaxed, [00:47:00] you know? So, you know, reds and oranges, those bright and often the darker colors, the blacks that are very corporate, not necessarily having that effect.

Um, and the other one is probably just. Trying to, it’s the boundary, you know, the biggest challenge for leaders, particularly sort of. With their teams is just having those clear boundaries that where work finishes and home life begins so that people can properly get that recharge and refresh. I actually came back, spoke at a secondary school in Brisbane last week, and the principal there, um, was new, but the history was that teachers were just answering emails from parents at all hours of the night felt like, you know, it was their responsibility.

So work just never finished, you know, and the same in our corporate environments, you know, teams go home and they’re still doing things at night and, [00:48:00] and she brought in this policy of the right to disconnect, put it in writing, um, that they don’t have to answer emails after a certain time, um, if there’s any issues with the parent, the parent can, you know, the principal will deal with it, um, so you, um, That’s quite black and white, um, might not work in every corporate environment, but I still think the principal as leaders, one of the best things they can do for their teams, drive them hard during the day, you know, set high standards, this mentality of get the work done during the day, go hard at the office, but then give them that the night off.

People need that time to, you know, with their families. No digital detox as far as possible. And just cause that’s when we recharge. And if we’re not getting that on a nightly basis, it’s all right. One night here and there when there’s a really important deadline or whatever, but night after night, then it just sabotages the [00:49:00] productivity. And so like that short term pain, we think, Oh, you know, we really, but for the long term, just, just one of the best things I would try and encourage leaders to, to embrace. And I know many, many more are doing it these days.

Rob Hills: Yeah, that’s such great advice. Mark. I’ve found myself, uh, you know, sleeping at nighttime. If I’m working late into the night, it disrupts my sleep, which then has a flow on effect to the next day, which then if I’m doing it again the next night, you know, this could be days turning into weeks. So I think that’s a great, um, that’s great advice.

Uh, Mark, what’s one question that I didn’t ask you today? And maybe you’d hoped that I would have. And if I’d asked it, how would you have answered?

Mark Bunn: That’s a good one. Uh, uh, well, sometimes I get asked. What do you think’s the most important thing for our well being or our performance or you know, what leaders could [00:50:00] could do? and my answer is Meditation. Um, I’ve always thought that myself. I said I learned TM, TM meditation when I was 19 so best thing I’ve done in my life, but probably 10 years ago, I heard about the sort of, um, not a formal research study, but, um, Tim Ferriss, who many of your listeners will know, um, a great sort of researcher and curiosity cat into high level performance and leadership.

And he, out of all his hundreds and thousands of world class performers that he’s interviewed and been with, by far the number one. Most common daily habit, practice, or ritual that I, you know, they do, um, is meditation. Either sort of a transcending based meditation or a mindfulness based meditation. Um, so I, that would be my number one and that’s, that’s the Ayurvedic wisdom too.

You know, the [00:51:00] teacher that taught TM, um, his name was Maharishi and he had this analogy of. Of shooting an arrow. He says, if you want to shoot an arrow on a bow and you want the arrow to go with force and power and sort of get to the target first, you have to pull it back. You have to go backwards first, before you can go forward.

So if you want to build a hundred story skyscraper, you’ve got to build down. You’ve got to dig down first. Before you can go up. And so Ayurveda, the premise or the primordial wisdom is nature’s formula for success is not activity. It’s rest and activity. Winter is the summer. What night is today. And so for us as humans to perform dynamically and successfully long term, we have to have deep rest.

The deeper, more profound the rest, [00:52:00] the better the activity. And so meditation, particularly those sort of transcending based ones, is where we get the really deep rest in a really short period of time. Meditate, self care. Come out and then much better leader, clear decisions, better decision making, do more and less time, all those sort of things we always speak about.

So yeah, that would be my answer to that one.

Rob Hills: Again, that’s such great advice, Mark. Um, thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for putting out the information that you do out into the world, uh, and your contribution and ongoing discussion around wellbeing. Uh, if people want to connect more with you and find out more about what you’re doing, what’s the best way they can do that?

Mark Bunn: Uh, yeah, they can jump onto either of my websites. So for speaking related, uh, things, conferences or, um, sort of stuff, um, well being days or yeah, offsite conferences, anything manages leaders. [00:53:00] Uh, we have Mark Bunn. B U N N dot com dot A U, um, and there’s a specific speakers, um, page on there and brochures they can download or they can, uh, just email us at, um, info at markbun.

com. au and we can send out, um, topics and brochures and speaking stuff. Uh, and then I also have, um, dharmicliving. com. So that’s D H A R M I C L I V I N G. micliving. com, which is more, um, the Ayurvedic sort of information. Um, the book can be purchased, um, a podcast that I did up until a year or two back, um, those sorts of things.

Um, more of around the, the Ayurvedic and book type things. Yeah.

Rob Hills: Fantastic. We will link to those in the show notes so people can go to the show nights and click on the links and go directly to those sites. Uh, thank you so much again, Mark. Really appreciate your time. Thanks for being here today.

Mark Bunn: Thanks [00:54:00] Rob. And, uh, yeah, really enjoyed the chat and, uh, hopefully, uh, all the listeners did too. So cheers.

Rob Hills: Thanks.

Mark Bunn: Thanks buddy.