Spiritual Values

Mother Nature: The Omnipotent

Wednesday, July 24, 2013 by

Click here to read an original op-ed from the TED speaker who inspired this post and watch the TEDTalk below.

 Doesn't everyone have childhood memories, most of them very personal, about raging thunderstorms, especially when they are happening at night?

Camille Seaman's breathtaking photographs of what happens when the heavens announce, "Something Wicked This Way Comes" take me back to my nursery school years, hunkered down in my little bed, terrified of the banging, flashing and rushing noises that precede a major storm. About then, my parents would be counting down the seconds until they heard the pitter-patter of little feet charging down the hallway. It would be off with the covers, run down the hall, and reach for the doorknob of mom and dad's bedroom. I'd instantly be snuggled between them, no longer fearful but intrigued by Mother Nature's wrath. Not until my dad explained that these noises were actually caused by God practicing his bowling, could I accept the ferociousness of strong winds, earth-shaking claps of thunder and flashes of blindingly bright lightning.

You would have thought I'd get over this phobia by the time I was in grammar school. I thought I had, until I happened to see a summer camp application that mom had filled out. Under the "Special Considerations" section, my mother had written, "Jennifer is afraid of loud thunder and lightning." Gulp. How embarrassing. I was 9 at the time.

Well finally, I can enjoy a good thunderstorm as well as the next guy or girl. Thus I am rather fascinated by the storm chasing hobby, and as a photography collector, in awe of Camille Seaman's work. Looking at the ominous, grand, dominating, overwhelming skies in her stills makes me think a little deeper about Mother Nature. And realize once again, the score will always be, Mother Nature 1, us zero.

Given my frame of reference, I guess it won't surprise you to hear that Seaman's photos make me reflect upon the onslaught of climate-related disasters over the past 5 years, both in the U.S. and abroad... and say to me both on a scientific and spiritual level, that there is an underlying message here. We need to stay in sync with nature, preserve our valuable resources, stop destroying the oceans, lower our carbon footprints, or the frequency and severity of these storms will continue.

I know this is opening a Pandora's box, and I expect that many pure scientists and even a few climatologists out there will comment about how my conclusion is assumptive, unscientific, unproven and biased. These types of weather-related disasters have happened in clumps throughout history and are "cyclical." I have heard it before, but sorry, I'm not buying. Yes my presumptions are on some level anecdotal, but I feel strongly that in not so many years from now, scientific studies will prove the veracity of my position.

This is the real value of Seaman's work. Beyond the physical beauty and technical craftsmanship of her photography, these images stimulate the debate about climate change -- or not?

As always, I encourage you to comment and share your opinions. Thanks!



What The Buddha Might Say To Oprah

Thursday, January 10, 2013 by

Saints get headaches. The Buddha had an upset stomach. Oprah has bad hair days. Each one of us, whether a spiritual teacher, film star or homemaker, is simply a human being. As the Dalai Lama said as he stopped us bowing when we greeted him: “We are all equal here.” The search for meaning and real happiness is the same for all of us, although in Oprah’s case she gets to walk the path in public while most of us do it in our living rooms.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. The Buddha

When Oprah originally aired on television author of A New Earth Eckhart Tolle’s course on spirituality and awareness it was revolutionary. By mixing the spiritual journey and modern media she exposed millions of people to the teachings. Since she began her latest TV series, Soul Sunday, where she gets to explore the journey with different luminaries such as Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Jean Houston and Wayne Dyer, that search has become louder and more personal. No one of her magnitude has offered such guidelines to awakening wisdom and compassion on the television.

There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. The Buddha

The teachers that Oprah interviews can only point the way, no one can do it for us, but in doing so they highlight how many of us crave spiritual guidance of a non-secular nature, often without knowing where to find it. The search for a deeper meaning in life is universal and religion has done it’s best to provide a roadmap. But, as evidenced by Oprah’s success, religious doctrine isn’t enough for many of those who watch her show. They seek universal spiritual answers, without wanting to follow a specific set of ideas.

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path. The Buddha

However, as the Buddha’s quote says so clearly, we have to be careful of blindly believing everything we are told unless we find it be of real import in our own lives. Being skeptical is of value. We wouldn’t marry someone as soon as we meet them, we would take time to know them better. There are egotistical teachers who say they can enlighten us but actually are self-serving. So it’s good to first ensure a teacher is loving, compassionate and wise. The teacher on the outside is there to turn us on to our own inner teacher. Each of us is on a journey and what works for one may not work for another. We need the courage to trust our own insights and awakenings. Oprah is on the cutting edge of this media revolution and she shares every step of her search, but her answers may not always be applicable for all of us.

The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows. The Buddha

One of Oprah’s personal advantages is she has what our Tibetan teacher calls Ding. This means a deep inner unshakeable confidence where we are comfortable in our own skin, just as we are. We can see this clearly in her willingness to be herself. She publicly shares and reveals her dark edges, her confusion and search, as much as her generosity and desire to help others, and invites us all to do the same. She shows that within us all is a reservoir of basic goodness: as in her, so it is also in us. This is seen in our desire to be better than we are, to be kinder, more loving, and more compassionate; it is the impetus to begin seeking answers, to aspire beyond our limitations, to climb our own particular mountain.

A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure. The Buddha

Maitri is a Sanskrit word meaning unconditional friendship. When we were alone with the Dalai Lama, who wrote the foreword to our book, Be The Change, at his residence in India, he held our hands as we sat and talked with him. He emanated maitri by making us feel he was our very best friend, as he was so present and caring with us, paying attention to whatever we said. Through Oprah’s informality and willingness to share, she becomes such a friend. She reassures us we are not alone on the journey, not the only one struggling to find answers, and not woo woo to be searching in the first place. It is as good as being in the room with her.

Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity. The Buddha

We walk, slide, skip, and dance along the path, picking ourselves up each time we fall. We are in this great mystery together, discovering that giving is getting, kindness is awesome, and life is a precious gift. However, as much as we applaud the journey, it is just as important to acknowledge ourselves as finders. Our lives do change for the better, we do become nicer, warmer, kinder, and less fearful. These are important shifts and we deserve every blessed congratulation there is!


See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jack Kornfield, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Byron Katie and many others.

Deb is the author of the award-winning YOUR BODY SPEAKS YOUR MIND, Decoding the Emotional, Psychological, and Spiritual Messages That Underlie Illness.

Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: http://www.edanddebshapiro.com

2012 Holiday Shopping: The LOHAS View

Monday, January 7, 2013 by

Now that the 2012 holiday shopping is behind us it is clear that the early predictions of a strong season of sales was incorrect and actually the worst for retailers since the 2008 financial crisis. As a result, many retailers are left scrambling to get rid of excess inventory.

As retailers ask themselves what went wrong and what they might do differently next year, I hope they will consider the missed opportunity to connect with the growing number of more sophisticated consumers looking for value beyond discounted prices. This growing consumer base are more savvy in understanding and demanding ethical and environmental products that are in line with their personal values instead of just price point value. These conscious consumers are part of the growing Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability (LOHAS) market. According to the annual trend research done by the Natural Marketing Institute, the LOHAS consumer segment is 13-19% of the population of adults and has close to $300-billion in buying power. The LOHAS consumer, which already has a tremendous impact on how companies address issues around the environment and health, is looking more closely than ever at what they buy and where they shop, with a different set of values in mind for their purchasing decisions. Their bottom line is not simply price.

LOHAS consumers are vital to understand because they are the early adopters of values based products and services and bring them to mainstream awareness. They are also willing to put their money where their mouths are, showing tremendous loyalty to the brands that reflect their values. They are the consumers who have demanded products such as hybrid vehicles, cfl light bulbs and organic foods find shelf space in big box stores and will continue to do so.

I see 5 areas where most retailers missed the boat in their 2012 marketing campaigns when it comes to connecting with their customers:

  1. Transparency: ‘Green fatigue’ means LOHAS consumers are taking a closer look at where products come from, how and where they are made and transported. They demand a closer look across the supply chain of the products they buy. Transparency is all about being clear about your intentions, actions and impacts. Companies that can share successes and failures and leverage the tools and avenues of social media and engage whole heartedly will succeed. Companies and nonprofits alike can learn from the upstart nonprofit "charity: water." In just 6 years, they’ve succeeded in creating a compelling brand, a track record of results and a tribe of committed, engaged supporters.
  2. Balance: Today’s hectic lives don’t look to be stopping soon as work/life balance for many is off. The 2012 Stress in America™ survey revealed that, as it happens year after year, people in the United States suffer from high levels of stress. Research suggests that stress, which has been shown to adversely affect animal brains, is also detrimental for humans. The desire and need for personal time and space is increasing. LOHAS consumers are on the leading edge of living more balanced and fulfilling daily lives, putting their collective buying power toward purchases and experiences that bring balance to their lives against all the craziness in these tough, chaotic times. They have moved from impulse buy to deliberate investment.
  3. Personal Development: The ultimate goal of achieving his or her full human potential and living a more aspirational life are of utmost concern to the LOHAS consumer today. Whole Foods, Apple and BMW are a few success stories that provide consumers with items and environments that provide this. People patron these well known brands for different reasons but one common thread is that these companies think way ahead of the curve when it comes to innovations, design and comfort.
  4. Community. Building community around your brand is more important than ever as ‘Bigger’, ‘better’, ‘faster’ and ‘more’ have been replaced with ‘shared experience’ and ‘dialogue’. Retailers need to build a strong and devoted community as sounding boards for new innovation and insight into what their customers want and need. Consumers are more skeptical about ads and more interested in word of mouth recommendations. According to a 2009 Nielsen study, 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, while only 33% trust online ads. Myriad on-line communities and blogs show examples of how brands like Method, Care2, Zappos and Ecomom present a sensitivity to this in their marketing. Make sure to have a distinct personality and strong voice rather than dry response to any feedback you may get.
  5. Spirituality: The Mayan prophecy has come and gone but desires for spirituality remain high. Today’s LOHAS consumer seeks a more spiritually rewarding life. The current growth in this market group strongly supports the notion that spirituality is no longer relegated to the New Age periphery but is undeniably migrating to the center of mainstream cultural awareness. This can also be seen in the yoga market.  The 2012 "Yoga in America" study, released by Yoga Journal shows that 20.4 million Americans practice yoga, compared to 15.8 million from the previous 2008 study*, an increase of 29 percent. These consumers seek out and support brands that understand and reflect their spiritual goals.


Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, LOHAS.com and LOHAS Journal the past 9 years Ted Ning is widely regarded as the epicenter of all things LOHAS leading many to affectionately refer to him as ‘Mr. LOHAS’. He is a change agent, trend spotter and principal of the LOHAS Group, which advises large and small corporations on accessing and profiting from the +$300 billion lifestyles of health and sustainability marketplace.  The LOHAS Group is a strategy firm focusing on helping companies discover, create, nurture and develop their unique brand assets.  For more information on Ted visit  www.tedning.com


THE LOHAS Book: The Gospel of Sustainability

Thursday, November 17, 2011 by

Gospel Of Sustainability: LOHASFor many years I have thought that there needs to be a book outlining the principles of LOHAS. A book that gives the origins of the concept and history on its evolution, the various sects that comprise the LOHAS concept and how they intersect and overlap and provides the different angle that LOHAS takes in as it relates not only to sustainability and health but also the spiritual aspect that I find many books on sustainability lack. I thought of writing one myself but realized it would take a lot of research and time to give the proper depth and understanding that I feel is needed to fully express the scope and scale of LOHAS.

It appears that Monica Emerich author of The Gospel of Sustainability: Media, Market and LOHAS has beaten me to the punch and with good measure. Monica was on the original team that conducted the first research in developing LOHAS and is a research affiliate at the Center for Media, Religion and Culture at the University of Colorado and president of Groundwork Research and Communications.  Her book is the first comprehensive look at the development of the LOHAS marketplace and discourse of the natural blending of sustainability with self awareness in society and natural worlds. Emerich draws on a myriad of sources including previous LOHAS Forums, LOHAS Journal articles and top leaders in the LOHAS world that are business, political, academic and philosophical. The book points out that LOHAS is not just about being with mindful consumption of values-based products and services but explains that there is a message about personal and planetary health that is reforming capitalism by making consumers more conscious.

Prior to this book I always had to refer to Paul Ray's book, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World which was the inital book that identified the conscious consumer base that is now known as LOHAS. His book is great but was done in 2000. Monica's book is much more up to date and takes in current events of the last decade. I find the book a great read and the best source out there that fully explains what LOHAS is and has the potential to become.  Anyone who wants to better understand the LOHAS marketplace has to put this on their must read list.


Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, LOHAS.com and LOHAS Journal the past 9 years Ted Ning is widely regarded as the epicenter of all things LOHAS leading many to affectionately refer to him as ‘Mr. LOHAS’. He is a change agent, trend spotter and principal of the LOHAS Group, which advises large and small corporations on accessing and profiting from the +$300 billion lifestyles of health and sustainability marketplace.  The LOHAS Group is a strategy firm focusing on helping companies discover, create, nurture and develop their unique brand assets.  For more information on Ted visit  www.tedning.com

Even Politicians Need Love – Ask The Buddha!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011 by

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. -- Abraham Lincoln

The political arena right now can make any sane person feel sick and angry, because of the few selfish leaders imposing their own egocentric whims. As we have seen in the last few weeks in Washington, politicians appear to enjoy butting heads, creating chaos, and getting close to ruining millions of people's lives while they're at it. Granny may not get her Medicare or Ginger be able to pay her college tuition, but do they genuinely care about this, about the pain and suffering of others? How many lobsters, fancy cars, houses or private jets do they need? The awful horror is that these things can never make anyone happy but they certainly can pay for a hospital bed, overdue bill or foreclosure. We're pretty sure they didn't include such greed in their election campaigns.

It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways. -- Buddha

Seems like the Buddha got this one right as there is no doubt the majority of politicians appear sleazy, selfish, stubborn, and focused only on what they think is right, regardless of anyone else. The late senator Ted Kennedy was one of the few who really cared, but as President John F. Kennedy said: Mothers may still want their favorite sons to grow up to be President, but . . . they do not want them to become politicians in the process.

For example, during his recent TV show Lawrence O'Donnell played a video of Tea Party Rep Joe Walsh saying, "I won't place one more dollar of debt on the backs of my kids" before noting that Walsh owes those kids $117,437 in child support. Banning Walsh from his show, O'Donnell added "He can go tell his lies about his family values and his sense of fiscal responsibility elsewhere."

Dangerous consequences will follow when politicians and rulers forget moral principles. Whether we believe in God or karma, ethics is the foundation of every religion. – The Dalai Lama

However, this is actually a wonderful opportunity to take all politicians, as difficult as it may be, into our hearts – yes, our hearts — as it will free us from negativity. When we hate someone it is in ourselves that hate is felt, the other person feels nothing.

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. -- Buddha

We need to recognize that such selfish behavior arises from ignorance. If politicians genuinely understood we are all equal here and in it together, they could not behave like this. Therefore, we can have compassion for them. Although challenging, caring unconditionally makes us more decent individuals and allows us to open our hearts even more. It is easy to love someone we care about but can we be at peace with someone who may cause us suffering? This is not easy but it is liberating. Only then can we be free. We don’t have to approve or accept their actions but we can care about the being inside.

Despite being a wondering mendicant living without paying a mortgage, without health care expenses, and without having to have a regular job, the Buddha had remarkable insights into the intricacies of human nature and how best to live a more balanced life.

He extoled his followers to tell the truth, to be honest with both themselves and others: There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. – Buddha. And: Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. -- Buddha

He expressed the power of words and the importance to use them wisely: Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill. – Buddha. And: Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace. – Buddha. And: Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world. -- Buddha

He also stressed the need for skilful behavior. Unskilful behavior is harmful, hurtful, creates unhealthy circumstances and suffering. Skilful behavior generates positive outcomes, treats others with respect and dignity, and ensures that all the needs of all are met.

In particular, the Buddha emphasized that it is man's own mind that is at the root of our difficulties: All wrongdoing arises because of mind. If mind is transformed can wrongdoing remain? -- Buddha

The Dalai Lama, often considered to be a modern day Buddha, recently retired from the head of the Tibetan government, while remaining their spiritual leader. In a current article in Rolling Stone Magazine he says, "I often tell people that this century should be a century of dialogue. Peace will not come from thought or from Buddha. Peace must be built by humans, through action. So that means, whenever we face a problem – dialogue. For peace we need inner disarmament. … It will not come immediately but we have to make the effort."

If only a few of the people in a position of power were to follow some of this sage advice, perhaps our country and even the world would not be in the state it is in.

What would you like to say to politicians?


See our award-winning book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jane Fonda, Jack Kornfield, Marianne Williamson, Ram Dass, Byron Katie, and many others.

Our 3 meditation CD's: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: www.EdandDebShapiro.com

Interview with Marc Barasch: Let's Just Save the World Already, Dammit.

Thursday, June 23, 2011 by

elephant journal is proud to be the official new media partner with LOHAS Forum. Click here for our ongoing LOHAS coverage, and be sure to follow our live coverage on Twitter. [Our editor Waylon Lewis is honored to serve on two panels during this event.]


elephant journal:  Tell me about your experience with LOHAS.

Marc Barasch:  I’ve been around since almost the beginning.  New age business had been bifurcated, and suddenly people were beginning to figure out how to put their spiritual ideas into business.  It started with good ol’ tofu companies, small granola businesses just beginning to advertise and act like real businesses.

elej: How have you seen it change over the years?

MB: It’s been a mixed blessing. You lose some of the authenticity of the core intent as companies sell to larger conglomerates.  It’s wonderful thatit propagates the meme and distributes the products at a scale that a small company never could have done.  There are tremendous benefits to that.  But from my somewhat outside observation, you also lose some of the integrity. For example, if you look at Ben and Jerry’s, when they were acquired by Unilever, I believe they intended to keep a very progressive business model, including a fixed ratio of how much top executives were paid. However, that model was not kept.

So the LOHAS community needs to ask:  how can LOHAS not replicate some of the disparities and discontinuities of the prevailing system that are collectively driving us off a cliff?  I think it’s time for companies to not just look at the sustainability and humanity of their organizational development, not just as a CSR add-on or a laudable afterthought, but something that’s included in the raison d’être of the company itself?  I think that’s the question that we need to be asking. What does the company do?  What is the product?  How can we ensure that it’s not increasing consumerism?

How does this push forward a new emergent model, without pushing forward the parameters of a dysfunctional system?  How does it value and push forward what needs to be done in the world?  And quickly?  We need to step out of the matrix and look at this from some zero point and reverse engineer it.  What does the world need, and how do these entities—businesses and corporations—directly serve that need?

In an era where money is de-realized into nothing but bits and bites, a fictive system based on number magic, the priests of the numerate have always worked abstract magic on the masses, and become the elite through magical hand gestures—in this case, tapping on keyboards.

I’m very personally interested in complementary currencies.  Look at Switzerland, for example.  One reason that they’ve been so stable economically is not just because they are neutral, but because they have some very sophisticated complementary currencies to meet social needs, as well.

elej: What do you think we need now?

MB: I think it’s time for radical experimentation, we need hybrid or fusion companies, with nonprofits using the profit system and businesses founded with a social mission first, such as Patagonia.

How do we take on the really large social mission of true transformation, and not just nibble around the edges of real change?  I think that’s not just grandiosity.  It’s necessity.

How do we model as organizations that meet emergent civilization?

elej:  How are you modeling an organization that meets the emergent civilization?

MB: This might sound pretentious, but I really took a cue from something Thomas Keating once said, something to the effect of, “I get up every morning, and I decide what will do the most good.  This simplifies things tremendously.”

6 years ago, when Field Notes on the Compassionate Life came out, I thought, “If I’m talking about compassion, I need to enact it.”  So I stopped my entire career trajectory from that point forward, and asked how I could do the most good and accept whatever answer I was given.  I asked myself, "what does the universe want?" And I’ve followed that question pretty loyally for these last 5 years.

That lead to a lot of coincidences, that eventually led me to planting trees in Ethiopia, to start.  I started the Green World Campaign, and watched it grow into a mostly volunteer-driven organization that’s now operating in 5 countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Mexico, Philippines, India).  We’ve planted close to 500,000 trees.  We’re involved in regenerating communities.  We’re restoring the economy and ecology of the world’s poorest places, doing work that serves people and planet.  In the model of agroforestry that humans and nature have been co-creating since the beginning.

The idea that our relationship to the natural world is to avoid keeping our own destructive hands off it, is inadequate, completely. We’re supposed to work in an integral way together. Renew communities as we renew the environment.

How do we take the holistic model that we all ascribe to philosophically and apply it in the real world, particularly at the bottom of the pyramid, with the people and places that our collective fate is inextricably entwined?  Collective enactment of the global village.

As a critique, we’re very good at created “enlightened, green-gated communities”.  But how does this affect the poorest of the poor?  Trickle down economics.  Everything is connected.  Everything should be seen as interactive parts of a whole.

Reforestation is a quantifiable healing strategy.  We are using interactive new media and new technologies.  It’s part of the DNA of GWC.  We have an alliance with Digital Globe, the largest satellite imaging company, to be able to show donors over time degraded areas turning green.

A tree is a deeply embedded meme in the human psyche.  We’re a tree-planting species.  We always have been.

We’re operating in many domains, whether it’s carbon credits for eco-stoves, creating social enterprises by sourcing commodities like herbs and teas, non-timber forest products, how to partner with indigenous communities in a way that empowers them and also introduces appropriate technology and new agronomic strategies that are harmonious with their traditional agricultural practices.

We are not only providing environmental education, but also working on linking that up with schools in the US, so kids can get a sense of the global village.  I’m big on creating positive feedback loops in a way that empowers global citizens. Doing good doesn’t have to be only through large corporations and large environmental groups.  How do we self-aggregate and do something that we can see that benefits all of us?

How do we all learn from each other?  I’m taking pains to pick and search partners that are mission-aligned and have a real global citizen mindset.  Some sort of understanding of the spiritual underpinnings of human existence, if you will. We’re not aiming to be USAID.  We want to work with the LOHAS community.  We’re propagating ideals in the context of the developing world that are really building global community that includes the poorest of the poor.

Our model is infinitely scalable.  With proper funding, we could scale this up almost immediately.

I call this work Green Compassion.  And the movie “I Am” also relates to this.

elej: Tell me about I Am.

MB: I got a call from Tom Shadyac, who wanted to make a film about the book.  A large part of the film is based on the book.  Here’s a guy who had earned about $2.1B dollars gross for the studios thru his Jim Carey and Eddie Murphy movies.  As much as possible, I want Green World Campaign to be congruent with the ideals presented in the movie and the book. Everything I do is informed by my own healing work and experience, and my background in Buddhism.  It all stems out from that.

Interviewer's note:  And that's what it's all about.

Marc Barasch rockin' a slanted beret FTW.

LOHAS Trends for 2011 - Health and Wellness Trends

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 by

wellnessHere are some LOHAS trends to consider that we feel will be impactful for the next year in the area of health and wellness. Ive done some research and here are my list of top wellness trends to consider significant in the LOHAS market.

From Wellbeing Escapes Top Wellness Trends of 2011

From Anti-Ageing to Healthy-Ageing there will be a resurgence by destination resorts and fitness outlets to develop comprehensive programs to help us age healthily.  The focus isn’t about reducing wrinkles but about disease prevention and health enhancement.   Personal medical evaluations, usually taken through blood tests, are followed by personalized health plans that include treatments, education and actions that will help achieve optimum health and boost energy.  Furthermore, there will be more of an emphasis on wellness facilties to provide services to relieve aches and pains that are inherent with physical activity rather than relax and de-stress. This again underlines a change in attitude towards a healthy and active aging process rather than anti-ageing.

connect natureWellness Through Nature - This can take the form of fitness, holistic actions, meditation, and treatments.  Rather than putting people indoors to carry out their wellness program, many hotels spas and wellness resorts will be further focusing on being paid guests to engage with the natural resources and exclusivity of their locations.  Currently there are groups that provide hiking in mountains, yoga in the gardens, fitness programs that encompass kayaking, sea-swimming, Jungle gyms, outdoor rock climbing walls, challenging mountain biking.  This is predicted to become more creative and expand with meditation walks along beautiful beaches and landscapes, tree-top spas, treatment locations where you can hear the sound of the ocean and birdsong – no more air-conditioned window-less treatment rooms playing CDs with nature music on repeat cycle.

spiritualBringing out the Monk in You - The global recession has not helped the work life balance debate.  It is now about survival of the fittest with people subdue worried about losing jobs in this cost cutting environment.  Physical fitness is now firmly established and accepted as stress busting and increasing energy, but mental fitness is increasingly being recognized as equally vital. Meditation is no longer viewed as a spiritual pastime for monks or lentil-eating, sandal- wearing hippies but being used as a daily tool to help with stress and efficiency.  Major hotels, spas and wellness resorts are counting meditation instruction as part of stress reduction programs and activity schedules to help people learn this valuable tool. Again, it is all about quality, quality, quality – it takes years of instruction to be able to teach this technique effectively, so make sure you learn from an authentic and experienced teacher.

Value and Return on Investment - Although the deals are still out there they are gradually decreasing as the economy slowly turns around and hotels and airlines start to focus on increasing yields again. The keywords are "Value" and "Return on Investment". As the spa going population becomes more sophisticated and experienced they will focus more on value rather than the cheapest price, demanding more from their experience. The cheapest spa will not necessarily bring them their return on investment in terms of measurable health benefits and long lasting results on their return.


From The American Council on Exercise (ACE) Top Fitness Trends of 2011

Stress Reduction Through Fitness - With the increased knowledge of how stress negatively affects the body, gyms and clubs will start offering wellness programs so their members develop effective strategies for managing their stress levels. Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates, and basic stretching classes are expected to draw more people looking for ways to de-stress. But working up any type of sweat will work. The same fitness instructors who want you to feel the burn now want to help your body—and mind—heal. Look for therapeutic workouts, like New York based Equinox’s “IntenSati,” which uses personal affirmations, and “Thread,” where core work and body-awareness techniques “unlock muscular inhibition.” Also on the horizon: a fascination with supportive aerial yoga and fitness-meets-life-coaching workshops.

kinectTechnology Becomes a Support Resource - The release of interactive fitness video games will see more people get off their couches and try new ways to be active in the home. The Sony Wii and Microsoft Kinect are scratching the surface of ways to engage a person’s whole body into a video game with jumps and swings or running in place. The sophistication of these games makes the experience both entertaining and physically challenging.

Corporate Wellness -  Whether it is through the hiring of in-house personal trainers or discounts and incentives offered to employees that join a health club, corporate wellness programs will emerge country-wide to help encourage healthy lifestyles among workers, especially time-crunched consumers.

Youth-Based Fitness -  Expect to see more youth-focused classes and clients popping up in gyms thanks to the national attention and focus on childhood obesity.  Schools and fitness centers will also incorporate more exercise curriculum for the youth population and, as such, take advantage of ACE’s Operation FitKids curriculum, which has recently been revamped and expanded with a new program targeting students in grades 6-8.

From SpaFinder Top Spa trends of 2011

scienceThe Science of Wellness - Is there scientific proof that massage reduces stress? Are mud-packs and mineral-baths medically proven to alleviate pain? Is ear candling proven to remove ear wax? The answers: yes, yes and no.  Get ready for a new era where more questions about the effectiveness of wellness therapies and products will be asked, and where these questions will get answered more transparently, as the emphasis on evidence-based medicine and the “science behind spa” heats up. For example the recent New York Times article, “A Good Massage Brings Biological Changes Too,” reporting on a Cedars-Sinai study that revealed a 45-minute massage resulted in a significant decrease in stress hormones, while boosting immunity. As so many more hospitals not only co-opt the “look of spa,” but also directly incorporate spa/wellness therapies on site, consumers will have powerful visual evidence of “medicine” validating “spa.”

As these initiatives and forces accelerate, the benefits of wellness will be increasingly not only heard, but also believed by more LOHAS consumers (often desperately) seeking health alternatives — by doctors who prescribe, by public officials who legislate and by insurers who reimburse. These nascent evidence-based initiatives should ultimately prove the bedrock for future, perhaps unimagined, industry growth.


Personal Development for a New Kind of Leadership

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 by

by Terrie Lupberger

Having attended the LOHAS conference, I was inspired by the varied interest groups from many fields and disciplines– business, finance, filmmaking, academia, etc., - who share a common purpose.  The aim of this group is no less than to be change agents for sustainable living and a healthier planet.

I, too, share this vision, and am particularly interested in what the holders of this vision will need in order to bring the vision to reality.

Do we have the competencies needed to bring this vision to a tipping point?  What do we need to learn in order to be successful?  And, how do we develop the needed competencies when traditional learning is not responding to the demands of our times.  In fact, what and how we are learning, as individuals and as organizations, is part of the problem, not the solution.

The same way that many in our Western Culture believe that more material possessions will make us happy, many believe that more information will bring us wisdom.  Traditional learning practices as modeled in our public education systems and corporate training programs have developed in a frantic pursuit for more information, relating with the world as if all we can do is to explain it in order to use it, in a gruesomely utilitarian fashion. 

I believe that what is needed for us to make our vision a reality are learning practices that include and transcend our concern for conceptual knowledge and effective action while also illuminating the paths toward wisdom and effective living. 

For lack of a better phrase at the moment, let’s call this path towards wisdom Personal Transformation.  And, while that word has been around since the ‘70s and somehow abused, misunderstood and perhaps now trivialized, what it aims for is a shift in the way an individual or organization sees and therefore takes action in their world. 

Transformational learning is a shift in our coherence that allows the emergence of a new observer, one who is able to design new solutions to old problems, who embraces the mystery of life, aware of the power and limits of conceptual learning, and capable of foreseeing new actions and producing unprecedented results, while caring equally for personal and collective concerns. 

LOHAS leaders and visionaries need learning practices that increase our capacity to successfully navigate the complexities of our times and transcend the traditions of thinking that have not only shaped our present commonsense, but that also have a powerful hold on our current approaches to business, education, politics, economics, the environment, etc.

Economist Milton Friedman, a Nobel laureate, once said:  “So the question is, do corporate executives, providing they stay within the law, have responsibilities . . . other than to make as much money for their stockholders as possible?  And my answer is, no, they do not.”

 How do leaders for a more sustainable world address this kind of thinking? 

The Dalai Lama writes in the foreword of the book, Essential Spirituality, by Roger Walsh, “In our increasing materialistic world, we are driven by a seemingly insatiable desire for power and possessions.  Yet in this vain striving, we wander ever further from inner peace and mental happiness.  Despite our pleasant material surroundings, many people today experience dissatisfaction, fear, anxiety, and a sense of insecurity.  There seems to be something lacking within our hearts.”

How do leaders for a more sustainable world deal with the fear and anxiety…in themselves and also with those they lead?

William Greider presents in his book, The Soul of Capitalism, another consequence of the traditional knowing and learning:  “Think of the paradox as enormous and without precedent in history:  a fabulously wealthy nation in which plentiful abundance may also impoverish our lives.”  And he adds, “Our situation is unique—learning how to live amid endless plenty and, ironically, how to live well in spite of it.”

 How does the LOHAS leader listen and speak to their marketplace to inspire them towards the same vision of sustainability?

I do not believe the answers to these and other important questions will be found in our traditional learning or commonsense. I believe the answers partly lie in our ability to take the Hero’s Journey as Joseph Campbell wrote about.  We have to be willing to go through our own ‘dark night of the soul’ - to examine the limitations of our own thinking and the consequences thereof.  We need to honestly look at our own incompetencies, presuppositions, and beliefs and assess how they limit our ability to take action.  We need to build awareness of our ‘own awareness’ and be willing to throw out that which is no longer serving us. 

The task for the LOHAS leader then is to acknowledge and embrace the difficulties we face, to build our emotional competencies so we can live our passion and ambitions and fears and resignations with honesty, openness, courage and acceptance.  We must build our capacity to live with uncertainty and determination.  We must develop our ability to listen and speak to those who do not share our vision without superiority or condemnation.  We must develop our capacity to deal with the complexity of moving our vision forward in a world with differing agendas, values, ethics, awareness, etc.   Our call is no less than to engage in transformational learning to develop both the wisdom and courage to build alternative, successful models for sustainability in all domains of life – starting with ourselves.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Terrie Lupberger is a partner in the Newfield Network which offers worldwide learning programs to individuals and organizations that integrate, strengthen, uplift and transform the human experience.  To contact the author, please visit www.newfieldnetwork.com.

2010 LOHAS Forum Insights

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 by

St Julien HotelLOHAS (acronym for Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) provided three days of insightful panels and networking opportunities attended by thought leaders across industries, government, non-profit organizations, research organizations and academic institutions including Faith Popcorn, Joel Makower, Dr. Alan Greene, Philippe Cousteau, U.S. EPA’s Stephanie Owens, Coca-Cola’s Tom LaForge, eBay’s Elisabeth Charles, Edelman’s Henk Campher, Alex Bogusky, Dr. Larry Dossey, 1% for the Planet’s Terry Kellogg, Mother Jones’ Madeleine Buckingham, Malika Chopra, Ode Magazine’s Jurriaan Kamp, among others.


Key insights from the LOHAS 2010 Forum include:

Faith Popcorn“Learning from the Past to Shape the Future”
• “We are in the midst of an evolution of our Cultural mindset from a ‘me’ mentality to a ‘we’ point of view.  This transition is a response to a society where economics, ethics and environment are collapsing simultaneously,” said Faith Popcorn, founder of BrainReserve and best-selling author of EVEolution, Clicking, The Popcorn Report, and most recently Dictionary of the Future.

“LOHAS and LOHOE: How Health & Sustainability are Complemented by Hedonics or Economics”
• The mainstream is more often motivated to act upon hedonic reasoning (i.e. seeking pleasure and avoiding pain) and their choices are constrained by economic realities. 42 percent of the population considers buying eco-friendly or ‘green’ versions of big-ticket items if the price is about the same as conventional versions.
• “Frankly, there is a little HOE [hedonics or economics] in everyone.  It is natural human instinct to gravitate toward those things that bring us both temporal pleasure and long-term satisfaction.  We are all able to act upon our desires within the constraints of our personal economic situations,” said Wendy Cobdra, president of Earthsense.

BP oil spill discussion“The Situation in the Gulf”
• “We spend 1,000 times more money every year in our federal budget for space exploration than we do to understand our oceans,” said Philippe Cousteau, environmentalist and founder of EarthEcho International.  “Knowing whether there was ever water on Mars – not critical to surviving on this planet.  The oceans are.”
• “There’s a lot of talk about boycotting BP while a lot of [BP] gas stations are owned by small business owners…it hurts those people.  What we need to be boycotting is our dependence on oil, single use plastic bags, plastic bottles, coal; shutting off the power; and living in more reasonable houses,” said Philippe Cousteau.
• “The type of dispersant that was chosen, Corexit, was only proved 56 percent effective in a lab.  There were 12 other EPA-approved dispersants, and two were 100 percent effective and they were not chosen.  That was an inside oil industry thing because Corexit is produced as a by-product from the refining process,” said Charles Hambleton, producer of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove.

“Where are the Green Jobs?”
• The Obama administration has made it a priority to connect low-income communities to green jobs based on the billions of dollars placed into the Stimulus Bill.  For example, the U.S. Department of Labor put out $148 million of green job training grants through its Pathways Out of Poverty grants. 
• “The economic business case for sustainability is being made every day by companies as diverse as Patagonia and Walmart. Their effort to green their supply chains is driving the economy and creating new business opportunities, innovations and jobs in support of sustainable business practices,” said Andre Pettigrew, executive director of Denver’s Office of Economic Development.

allergy kids“Phood and Kids”
• The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that children born in the year 2000 in the U.S. will be the first generation in our country’s history to have a lower life expectancy than their parents due to a projected 33 percent of Caucasians and 66 percent of African Americans and Hispanics contracting diabetes in their lifetime as a result of poor diet.  “We are actually killing our kids with food and this must stop,” said Ann Cooper, author of Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children, chef and educator.
• One in three American children now have autism, allergies, ADHD or asthma.  “As we work together, to inform and inspire each other about ways in which we can protect our children from toxins like growth hormones, pesticides, synthetic dyes and genetically altered ingredients in food, we realize that there is so much that we can do together to create the change that we want to see in our food supply,” said Robyn O’Brien -- author of The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It and founder of Allergy Kids.

“Understanding the Carbon Economy”Hunter Lovins
• The US represents five percent of the population yet emits 25 percent of the world’s carbon.  “We need to reduce our energy use now and promote renewable energy to offset the remaining energy we consume.  If we all do our part today, we can create a bountiful, healthy future together,” said Margi Gardner, CEO of Bonneville Environmental Foundation.

“Spirituality and Health: What the Fuss Is All About?”

• In 1993, three of the 125 medical schools in the U.S. taught courses in spirituality and health and now 90 schools have such courses.
• In 1997, the Joint Commission on Accreditation strongly recommended that every healthcare institution have a vehicle in place to assess the spiritual history of incoming patients, which is now a requirement.

Colleen Saidman

“Global LOHAS”
• Mobium Group data shows that the Australian consumer market for LOHAS products and services has grown from $12 billion in 2007 to $19 billion in 2009 with 2011 projected at $27 billion.  (Source: Mobium Group)
• “LOHAS in Asia is a brand rather than a movement and, as such, offers a great opportunity for LOHAS companies trying to enter the markets.  By using LOHAS on their marketing material, they are appealing immediately to their target audiences in Asia,” said Adam Horler, founder of LOHAS Asia.

LOHAS Forum“Convincing Mainstream Consumers to Go Green: What really motivates them to make sustainable choices?”
• Conversations matter – when kids talk to their parents about green issues, it results in behavior change 68 percent of the time.  Those conversations with neighbors and co-workers result in behavior change 56 percent of the time. (Source: Shelton Group)


“New Paradigms in Health & Sustainability: What's Working and What's Not”
• Mainstream consumers comprise the majority of users for many LOHAS products such as compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), organic food, natural personal care and natural household cleaning products. There has been an increase in usage of many LOHAS products despite the recession, such as organic foods.  (Source: Natural Marketing Institute)

Jennifer Schwab and Malika Chopra“The Social Currency of Social Media”
• If Facebook were a nation, it would be the third largest in the world with 50 percent of users logging in daily and over 70 percent of users outside the U.S.  “Measuring ROI with social media marketing is tricky, but the consensus is that more engagement correlates to achieving more marketing objectives.  So your goal should be to cultivate customer communities,” said Joey Shepp, founder of Earthsite.

“The Storytelling Value of Location-based Services”

• “Location-based social media is rapidly increasing in value, popularity and relevance.  LOHAS businesses will benefit from experimenting with tools like Foursquare, Gowalla and Twitter Places to get a feel for how these applications can help engage consumers and grow business,” said Nathan Rice, interactive director for Haberman Group.

Promoting lifestyles of health and sustainability, the annual LOHAS Forum brings together entrepreneurs, government heads, Fortune 1000 executives, investors, research institutions, academics and media for a program designed to inspire innovation and further expand the LOHAS market share.  The 2010 Forum was held from June 23rd to 25th at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder, Colorado. 

How Do I Keep My Plate Clear and Stay Frazzle–Free?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 by

Tony asks, “What is your best method of keeping your plate from getting so full, you feel frazzled?”

A: That is a great question. There are a lot of different ways to simplify your systems so you don’t feel frazzled, but let me give you a really quick method to manage everything that’s on your plate.

The thing is we are living in the information age. Which means, we are living in the age of opportunity, where if you are an opportunity kind of thinker, everywhere you look you get a new idea. You think of new opportunities, new things that could happen, and pretty soon your plate is either literally full or more importantly, sometimes your brain is just so full that it feels like your plate is full!

Here is the best way to keep your plate from getting too full, and to keep yourself from feeling frazzled:

  1. Identify your top three values.

    Maybe it’s independence, maybe it’s wealth, maybe it’s responsibility, maybe it’s relationships, creativity, spirituality, etc. While you may know what your top ten values are, take the time to get really clear and identify your top three.

  2. Examine whether or not your opportunity aligns with your top three values.

    As you go through your opportunities or ideas, take your top three values and ask yourself if this thing you are considering, or is on your plate already, is in alignment with your value number 1, value number 2 and value number 3.

Whether you know it or not, we live our lives and make decisions based on our values. When we make decisions that are not in alignment with our values, it creates a glitch in the system, if you will, that leads to irritation, frustration, overwhelm, uncertainty and conflict.

When we make decisions that are in alignment with our top three values, we are making decisions that are supportive and that lead to ease, enthusiasm and confidence.

If you use this simple system, and you look at it every three months or so, you will be able to easily take a look at what’s on your plate to see what you said yes to that needs to come off and make a plan to get it off your plate.  I guarantee that you will be more focused, more productive and you will have so much less stress that you’ve ever had before.

Do you know what your 3 top values are?