"Having a business oriented mentality since I was in high school. My mom pushed me to make my own money and that was super helpful. A lot of people in this community don’t really want to be business people. They kind of shy away from it and I think I’ve always recognized that if I’m going to be successful, and bring this to a lot of people, then I’m going to have to build a very sustainable business."
The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Joel Granik.
Joel Granik had found professional success in multiple industries by his mid thirties, but felt that something was missing. An exploration of meditation, eastern thought and psychedelic therapy eventually led him to diving head first into an education in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Joel decided to devote himself to helping others find equilibrium and thus found the missing piece to making his own life whole. He has spent the last 10+ years mastering techniques to aid his patients in rooting out imbalance, stagnation and disease so that they can lead inspired and healthy lives.
FloLo Holistic is a cutting edge wellness center with a seven year history. Originally built in 2015, under the name Floating Lotus, they are NYC’s first sensory deprivation center. Over the years the facility has introduced thousands of people to the mental and physical benefits of floatation, psychedelic medicine, psychotherapy, nutritional IV drips and ketamine treatments.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I’ve been in business for about 27 years now. I started when I was 19 and was in various different businesses, I’ve never actually worked for anyone else, I was kind of a serial entrepreneur. In my early 20s, I went to law school and graduated and got my JD and then got right into a business. I never took the bar because I was like this business is great and this is really what I want to be doing. About a decade later after running businesses in real estate and title insurance and being bored out of my mind and not really fulfilled at all, I had just gotten into psychedelics and Eastern thought. I always joke that it was a single Google search that I found psychedelics, Buddhism, and flotation, pretty much in one evening and that really changed the whole course of my life.
And so I was like, oh, flotation can bring me there in an hour…fantastic! I couldn’t find anywhere to float and so I bought my own float tank in Long Island. I had never really seen myself as a healer. I wasn’t someone that had worked with bodies very much, so I wasn’t really comfortable yet with touching.
I had some capital, and started thinking about my own practice as a Chinese medicine doctor and I found a location on West 56th Street. That was seven years ago. I was like, no one’s doing flotation here in the city. Why don’t I open a couple of float rooms? And that’ll be a great way to attract people to my practice. I’ve introduced thousands of people to sensory deprivation floating in the seven years that I’ve been here and then this place has just been evolving ever since.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
When I discovered psychedelics, I immediately recognized that this was going to be a new source of wisdom for me. Realizing, of course I’ve also done a lot of psychotherapy in my life personally and seeing how psychedelics and psychotherapy work so well together. I’ve kind of unlocked parts of me that I couldn’t touch before. I find myself in very open conversation with so many people that walk in the door about psychedelics and so now I’m trying to really bring psychedelics to this holistic experience.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would say my guru Alan Watts. When I first started listening to him in my early 30s it seemed like I had just found somebody that nobody else knew about. Today, Alan Watts also has really become a huge celebrity. He would be the concept of a spiritual entertainer which I appreciate so much both from my rabbi days, thinking about how to educate and communicate with people.
I would say I am more a teacher than a healer because so much of what I’m using to heal people is the power of their own minds and their own ability to heal themselves. Alan Watts taught me the idea of taking deep philosophical concepts, metaphysical concepts, and spiritual ideas and being able to communicate them in ways that people can understand. People are looking to heal their trauma and really exploring these alternate forms.
You are a successful leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
1. Having a business oriented mentality since I was in high school. My mom pushed me to make my own money and that was super helpful. A lot of people in this community don’t really want to be business people. They kind of shy away from it and I think I’ve always recognized that if I’m going to be successful, and bring this to a lot of people, then I’m going to have to build a very sustainable business.
2. Rational, logical thought which is something that I learned way back in my days of being a rabbi, studying the Talmud. I appreciate that I did that even though today I’m exploring other realms. I can show how these ideas that are often a little bit esoteric or outside of what you might normally consider everyday logic actually do have foundations in reality.
3. Having a very strong value. As much as my energy is all over the place and I have an over exuberant energetic personality, my mind is going a mile a minute. At the same time, I have this part of me that is able to sit and quiet the mind. I’d say that’s a lot of what I’ve learned over the past 12 years in studying meditation, but a lot of it is actually from plant medicine. I always consider them my greatest meditation teachers.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?
I think that authority itself is a really tricky word especially nowadays, and I do believe very much that we need to look inside at our own voices and wisdom to find authority. But certainly, I want to be a beacon or a light, a guide, helping to shepherd them through their experiences. So I would say that in order to be an authority or to speak about these things, it’s very important to be able to examine your own self and what your own motivations are.
Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.
I’m 47 years old and most people that I talk to are like, you don’t look anywhere near 47. It’s not necessarily about my looks. I have two children both in their early 20s and I relate very much to them and with their energy. I would say that you brought up that idea of the “elixir of life,” and I believe very strongly in that. I don’t believe it’s a supernatural thing. I think that it really goes back to what I was saying before about emptying the self. Because when you do that work, when you’re able to relax that sort of framework or cage of the ego that we live within, that you find that your body stays young.
Most of the stress in our lives is about anxiety over ourselves. Then the more cortisol we are releasing into our bloodstream, and the more cortisol released into our bloodstream, the more our organs break down, our skin breaks down, our immune system breaks down and we age faster. So I would say that is the secret. If somebody wants the secret to so-called eternal youth, it’s available to us. It just takes some work and some wisdom to get there.
Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)
I would definitely start with what am I eating? People are recognizing that the wrong types of food are harmful but it’s more than that. Are we taking in other types of nutrients and minerals and vitamins and in quantities that we need on a regular basis to strengthen our bodies?
I always tell people that meditation doesn’t have to be sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed. Meditation doesn’t have to be following any particular technique. Those techniques that people have been using are technologies. At the end of the day, meditation is who you are and it’s not an activity. Meditation has this profound type of relaxation for all of the organs and cells in your body.
Talk therapy. As much as we can do work on our own in meditation, talk therapy can be very helpful. You need to work with somebody to really get a handle of this living world that’s underneath the surface. It’s the recognition that talk therapy is the tip of an iceberg. So talk therapy is the only way you’re going to get down there to understand it. So if you want to ever really develop fully as a person and to remain emotionally healthy and balanced you need to be able to talk it out. You need to hear your own voice.
Physical activity. In Chinese medicine, motion is important because our body is this kind of flow of chi loosely translated as energy. Whenever we sit still, whenever we stop in a sense, our chi is stopping. To be in perpetual activity is important for our health.
Love. Meditation and talk therapy are all helping us unravel the self, to loosen the walls of our ego. Ultimately, that is all going to lead us to a place where we can now open up to others to really allow yourself the ability to do that without fear, without a need to protect yourself.
Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?
I’ve spent so much time thinking about nature versus nurture and at the end of the day. Eastern medicine has a lot to say about it. There is a concept in Eastern medicine of a blueprint that you inherit from your ancestors, and that blueprint in Chinese medicine is the chong channel (meridian). The chong is a very deep channel that I work with a lot. It happens to be my favorite channel to work with. We know today that there are certain things that we can’t escape. There are going to be some people that will not be able to live a long life just because genetically they’ve inherited something.
But for the vast majority of us, what we’ve inherited is giving us a framework to work with it and so we might have to work harder on certain things. We might be able to relax in some certain areas where other people have challenges, and at the end of the day, nobody’s going to get there without work, even if you have great genetics.
Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?
I feel like I’m constantly talking to my patients about suffering and how we deal with it. I think challenge is such an important way to describe suffering successes in my life would never have happened without some great suffering.
As we come out of the pandemic, we’ve moved forward. We have new kinds of challenges, which almost seems insurmountable. So what I tell people is to recognize that if it wasn’t for some suffering that I’m going through today, I wouldn’t be able to get to tomorrow. All my suffering led me here.
Can you please give us your favorite book? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?
My favorite book is called ‘Kali Rising’ by Rudolph Ballentine. He’s a meditation teacher. It’s a fantastic discussion about gender, the masculine and the feminine as it exists in reality and in the universe. Kali as this divine feminine, and how the masculine structures of our world are leading to chaos. This new type of energy has to bubble up to the surface. Sometimes it’s violent and sometimes it breaks things down that we didn’t think could break down.
What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?
FloloHolistic.com is our website. @FloLoHolistic is our Instagram and that’s the place to start. FloLo Mind is a new brand that I’m creating, which is just going to be psychotherapy and psychedelics and FloLo Yoga is our new yoga program.
This was very inspiring, Joel. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.