Spirituality and Health

Transforming the Financial System: Perspectives and Ideas

Monday, December 16, 2013 by

By Don Shaffer, RSF Social Finance

When you are looking for the new or emergent, you usually have to look off-the-grid. In many ways as RSF Social Finance has grown, we too have had to go off-the-grid to develop our unique approach to finance.

In 1984, a school burned down in New Hampshire. RSF organized a group of investors to rebuild it. Since then, we have made over $275 million in direct loans to social enterprises. Our track record has been excellent, with just 2 percent in cumulative loan losses over 29 years, and a 100 percent repayment rate to investors.

The key: bringing investors and borrowers closer together. We have found that if the individual investors who are providing capital and the social entrepreneurs who are borrowing capital can be more visible to each other – if they can understand each others’ needs and intentions, and sustain a personal connection whenever possible – then risk decreases and fulfillment increases.

Participants in a transaction become participants in a relationship. We believe this is nothing less than the antidote to modern finance, and can be applied on a substantial scale. It is the opposite of high frequency trading.

Specifically, four years ago RSF adopted a new approach to loan pricing for our $100 million flagship senior-debt fund. Each quarter, we convene representatives from our staff, our investors, and our borrowers to decide what annualized return rate investors will receive the following quarter, and what interest rate borrowers will pay – a radical form of transparency.

We call it community-based pricing. The response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive – and our interest rate, referred to as RSF Prime, has been very stable. We are now off-the-grid of the global financial interest rate system and no longer directly affected by the vagaries of Wall Street.

But of course the vast majority of all 401(k) programs, pension funds, and endowments are tethered to Wall Street, so it is naïve to believe we are fully off-the-grid.

This circumstance leads to questions many of us in the social finance field think about:

•  What is it going to take for the number of socially and environmentally-focused investors to grow substantially?

•  Can it happen fast enough for those of us who acknowledge the urgency of climate change and natural resource depletion?

•  Are there enough sound investment opportunities for investors who want to go off-the-grid?

•  How will we address the perennial issues of risk, return, and liquidity when there are so few established intermediaries in which to place funds?

•  What are the long-term implications for those of us who anticipate needing funds for retirement and who want to embrace off-the-grid investing?

A Generational Voice

I believe the very definition of wealth will change in my lifetime (I’m 44), where measures like GDP evolve to measures of well-being. These indicators will put spiritual, community, and ecological health at the center of the human experience and pull us toward an economy and supporting financial system that are direct, transparent, and personal, based on long-term relationships.

This article continues on Green Money Journal.

The Ultimate in Conscious Media

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 by


If you consider yourself a  conscious consumer or LOHAS individual you probably seek alternative forms of information, insights that foster betterment of well-being and education instead of FOX, CNN and the E! Channel. I continually find myself seeking other ways to get inspired and informed but have to sift through a lot of garbage to do this. However my problems have been solved with my new found source – GaiamTV. You may have seen my previous post on The Growth of Online Yoga and Fitness that gives a list of fitness focuses streaming media. However GaiamTV not only covers yoga but much more.

I like to consider GaiamTV the Conscious Netflix of today. It is a streaming video subscription service that offers access to the world’s largest collection of transformational media. It is a fantastic resource for those those seeking knowledge, awareness and personal transformation.

I truly feel that we are standing on the precipice of a new, transformative era and believe that everyone holds the potential for true transformation and higher awareness.  Equally important is the need to have access to creative alternative forms of media that foster awareness and growth.

As a subscriber you get unlimited access to the entire GaiamTV library, including inspiring documentaries, cutting-edge interviews, energizing yoga classes, and much more. This can be overwhelming at first glance but GaiamTV is curated into five categories:

Active & Well:  Explore yoga, fitness and natural health videos to help you look and feel your best.

Spiritual Growth: Learn valuable life lessons and gain personal insight from top spiritual leaders.

Seeking Truth: A new frontier of reality with exclusive programming that explores cutting-edge information and ideas.

Nature & Culture: Venture to the far corners of the earth through exciting travel videos, get a first-hand look at cultural narratives from around the world, and discover the latest in green technology.

Original Programs: Exclusive interviews on provocative topics and original shows with visionary hosts that encourage people to see the world through new eyes.

By providing curated content on a variety of groundbreaking subjects, Gaiam TV is paving the road through the wilderness of today’s mainstream media outlets.

I highly recommend trying the 10 day free trial. If you like it the fee is only $9.95 per month and it is available via computer, mobile device, Roku, Apple TV, Blu-ray player and many others. You can also get a free month for every friend you sign up. It is a great way to develop or round out your personal wellness and development program.

Check it out and see what you think!

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 Environmental Crisis and the LOHAS Revolution

Friday, August 3, 2012 by

The environmental problems we face as a society are so vast. How can we personally connect with these problems? By getting out of our heads and returning to the body, we can see that body links us with the world outside ourselves. We need to turn off the televisions sets and turn off our minds and feel the connection we have with the world around us. There is a problem right now in the world and it is our duty, right now, as human beings to address this problem.

The climate change crisis is really an opportunity to truly connect with the world around us, an opportunity to enhance our mental health by stepping out of alienation and aimlessness. For too long, we have been disconnected from our bodies, each other and our environment, but now, mindfulness in the present moment provides a road to connect outside ourselves to this crisis we all face. The present moment is a highway to connection. Only here and now we can we connect outside ourselves because the past and future are mere concepts. Only here and now, can we disregard assumptions rooted in the past so we can contend with future challenges.

And what are those challenges? Climate change imperils our future right now, but that future can be salvaged if we all work together. Being present right now carries high stakes for the health of our environment and for a our mental health. We do face a crisis of meaning in our culture and the solution to that crisis is combating climate change. If life today has meaning, that meaning is fueled by the existential crisis that climate change is becoming. If we are protecting the earth’s sustainability for future generations, then our life has meaning because we are acting in connection with others and the natural world that has made all our lives possible.

And what about the LOHAS revolution? The LOHAS revolution shows us that the climate change crisis is not just a moral, political and intellectual crisis, but a spiritual and emotional one rooted in connectedness. For too long, we have been cut off from other people and the world that surrounds us. More than just political change, Lifestyles in Health and Sustainability require a change in consciousness, a change in how we perceive the relationship of our self with the world.  Sustainability is more than just a set of policies, it is a spiritual principal that colors life with meaning. LOHAS is a means of using the climate change crisis as an engine of spiritual renewal. It is an opportunity to lift up our society from despair, nihilism and isolation and become immersed in connectedness and responsibility.


Top 10 Reasons Why The 2012 LOHAS Forum Is Unique

Monday, May 14, 2012 by


1. Blend of Right and Left brain thinking . LOHAS is a unique blend of sustainability, conscious leadership, personal development and spirituality. No other conference blends these three elements in such a fashion and provides the context of how they are all interconnected. This formula brings together executives who are going in the same direction, professionally and personally, but don’t know each other. It is common for attendees to know very few others at LOHAS which as a good thing because it means fresh opportunities. 
2. Integration of the event into Boulder. Many attendees get excited about the event being in Boulder because they love the city or have always wanted to visit. Rather than having to explore the city on their own time outside of the conference, LOHAS 2012 is using several historic and well-known locations in downtown that are within a block of each other. We will be using the historic Boulder Theater for our morning general sessions and keynotes, the organic restaurant Shine for our lunches, the Rembrant Yard for our exhibit space and afternoon breakout sessions at these locations plus the Shambala Center and the classic Boulderado hotel. Think of it more of a block party in format.
3. Permission to be yourself. LOHAS gives attendees permission to drop the armor that we typically wear with when we put our professional agenda before who we really are. LOHAS allows people to come as individuals first to develop relations on a heartfelt personal level which then leads to stronger business relations with other attendees.
4. Business gets done. There have been countless stories of successful business relations being developed at LOHAS ranging from nonprofits getting significant donations to new hirings to company mergers tand investments in the millions of dollars. Even romantic relations have blossomed from the event. Because of the structure and the types of decision makers who attend the event LOHAS has become a catalyst for great business.
5. Tangible take away. LOHAS has several two-hour workshops on the front and back end of the program for a deep dive into subjects. This gives attendees information to take back to their own businesses and immediately apply it. The workshops include topics such as employee engagement with sustainability, how to be a better public speaker, how to pitch to media, how to ask for money, tapping into intuitive leadership skills and many others.
6. Gift room. The gift room of LOHAS is legendary. Instead of a gift bag that is pre-stuffed as we have all received at other conferences, LOHAS give a one time access to a room that is stocked with LOHAS organic and eco friendly items such as chocolate, snacks, soaps, skin care, books and more that attendees select and put in their own bag rather than what is pre-stuffed. It is much more interactive and engaging.
7. Edutainment factor. The morning sessions are much more that business keynotes. They are designed to stir the soul through inspiring elements of music, art, and inspiration. These are sprinkled into the morning sessions between the high powered talks from LOHAS entrepreneurs and influencers making the mornings much more alive. These will be a lot of fun and something you will not forget!
8. Cutting edge data presented. We have the up to date data on LOHAS consumer trends, green consumer trernds and wellness trends worth thousands of dollars presented at LOHAS. If you are a data fiend you will be quite satisfied. 
9. Extra activities. Several events happen around the event. The LOHAS Insight tour gives people a chance to visit Boulder based LOHAS companies and get a behind the scenes look of their operations. The Impact Investing Collaboratory brings entrepreneurs and investors together to discuss the investment dating game. Attendees can get their days started right with morning yoga or meditation before the sessions. B-Cycle, Boulder’s community bike share program is offering a $10 week pass for attendees to use their bike system throughout Boulder. B-Corp is hosting a networking reception at the Boulder Go Lite store. And then there is the infamous LOHAS after party that goes into the wee hours of the morning.
10. Provides community access. This year LOHAS wants to invite the Boulder community a pass that gives access to the morning keynote sessions held at the Boulder Theater and the exhibit space in the afternoons. This is a very reasonably priced pass and provides the opportunity for locals who are busy or who cannot afford the larger full attendee pass rate. If you are in town and want to experience a bit of LOHAS now is your chance!


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


LOHAS and Systems Thinking

Thursday, February 2, 2012 by

What does mind/body wellness have to do with environmental concern? What is the glue that holds the broad Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability umbrella together? What do the practices of yoga and meditation have to do with environmental awareness? Systems thinking shows the folly of disembodied mind, disconnected individuals and deracinated culture, while providing glue that cements together the disparate LOHAS threads. 

First off, what is, systems thinking? Systems thinking goes beyond linear thinking and a mechanical view of the world that does not recognize connecting linkages. Linear thinking reflects a simple cause/effect relationship, for example measuring the independent variable’s effect upon the dependent variable. A system is an ecology of relationships all interacting with unpredictable results. Systems thinking describes emergence; which means the collective properties of the whole are not found in the parts. There is no discrete cause and effect between two isolated variables. Everything is connected within the ecological system. Whole systems are driven by the logic that when you remove particular parts, the system falls apart and you lose explanatory power.

Recognition of three systems; the mind/body system, the self/society system and the culture/nature system shows how systems thinking forms the foundation of the Lohas philosophy. It reinforces the importance of yoga and meditation for harmonizing body and mind, the importance of social relationships in forming our individual identity and the importance of nature in the formation of culture.

Beyond the fact that nature is a prerequisite for our survival, humanity has spiritual needs to connect with the environment on a deeper level. Throughout history and throughout the world, we see the human urge to connect to something greater than themselves is universal. Rather than projecting our religious impulse skyward, now, we see the need to project that impulse to the world around us. Our connection to nature is not just a biological fact; it is a spiritual principal that colors the world with meaning. Life has meaning because we are connected to the world around us. The meaning lies in that connection and with the environmental peril we face, the meaning requires political engagement along with spiritual and social engagement because facing the environmental crisis will require policy change, policy choices and collective action on unprecedented levels. Facing this environmental crisis could provide an engine for spiritual renewal. Sustainability could become the new religion, a religion rooted in scientific fact and a religion formed in response to environmental challenges.

Three systems, body-mind system, the self-society system and the culture-nature system move our consciousness outward from our mind, to our self, to our community and finally to the natural system. This forward movement in consciousness will hopefully spur on evolutionary adaptation that will increase human nature’s capacity to deal with the growing environmental crisis. The LOHAS market is a tool for moving this evolutionary adaptation forward.

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

Why Meditation Is So Cool

Sunday, November 6, 2011 by


If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. ~ Lao Tzu

At a time of economic downturn, with corruption on the rise and countries at war, we wondered what could bring greater awareness, kindness, and compassion to a world in so much chaos? Could something as subtle and understated as meditation possibly have any affect on business, the environment, conflict, or even politics? Can meditation make a big enough change in consciousness to transform the way we see ourselves, each other, and our world?

We have both been immersed in meditation since we were young. It is the foundation of our lives, and often makes us wonder what life would be like without it when we look around and see the massive chaos and suffering that many people experience. So, for our book, Be The Change, How Meditation Can Transform You and The World, we wanted to paint a more varied picture by including many of the cool people who do it, how it affects them, and why you should do it too!

Meditation has been the main focus of spiritual practice for thousands of years, but it is only in the last few decades that the general population has begun to realize how valuable it really is, regardless of spiritual or religious interests. However, this poses a conundrum. If meditation is so available and as well known as it seems to be, why is it not already an integral part of everyone’s lives? If health reports are saying how good it is as a way to cope with stress, how it makes you feel better about yourself and others, why do we ignore it or find excuses not to do it?
Self-centeredness and selfishness -- hallmarks of the ego -- affect not only our own lives and relationships but also influence the way we behave in the world. There is no limit to the damage a strong ego can do, from the arrogant conviction that our own opinions are the only right ones and everyone should be made to believe in them, to wielding and abusing power at the expense of other people’s lives or liberties. The ego is neither good nor bad, except when self-centeredness dominates our thoughts, feelings, and perceptions of life. A positive sense of self gives us confidence and purpose, but a more negative and selfish aspect of the ego makes us unconcerned with other people’s feelings; it thrives on the idea of me-first and impels us to cry out, “What about me? What about my feelings?”

The ego also makes us believe that we are the dust on the mirror, that we could never be so beautiful as the radiant reflection beneath the surface. Yet how extraordinary to believe that we cannot be free when freedom is our true nature! When we begin to see that such self-centeredness does not lead to happiness and we yearn for something more genuine, when we realize that the pit of meaninglessness and emptiness inside is never truly satiated no matter how much we feed it, or when we have just had enough of chaos and suffering, then the longing for change arises.
This brings us to the importance of contemplation and meditation. Without such a practice of self-reflection, we are subject to the ego’s every whim and have no way of putting a brake on its demands. Meditation, on the other hand, gives us the space to see ourselves clearly and objectively, a place from which we can witness our own behavior and reduce the ego’s influence.

Meditation changes us. From being self-centered, we become other-centered, concerned about the welfare of all equally, rather than being focused on just ourselves. We become more acutely aware of how we affect the planet, how we treat each other and our world, and seek to become a positive presence rather than a negative one. As we find our own peace, we want to actively help others to also be at peace.

Science is now proving that meditation is a genuine way to generate peace by reducing potentially harmful emotions, such as fear and anger. We usually think of such mind states as a fixed part of life, but they do not need to be. Many negative emotions arise from the emphasis we place on success and achievement, which is a left-brain activity. During meditation, we engage the right side of the brain, which encourages us to communicate in a more positive and caring way.

To bring peace to those around us and to our world, we have to change from being concerned with our own needs to reaching out and helping each other. But for kindness and compassion to become a natural expression of who we are, we need tools—help, guidance, and support. Meditation in its many forms is the one tool we have found that does all of this. By getting to know ourselves, discovering that we are more than we thought we were, and by connecting more deeply with our essential self, we find that we have the resources, strength, and wisdom to not only make changes, but to become the change we so long for.

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, Jane Fonda, Father Thomas Keating, Marianne Williamson, Ram Dass, 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  

3 Keys to Activating Your Life Purpose

Thursday, September 8, 2011 by

Written by Jean Houston

Jean HoustonAs I travel around the globe speaking and training, I have consistently found that most people ask me the same question, ‘how do I discover my purpose in life?’  In the past, who you became was determined by your family and circumstances. You didn't have much choice. But now there is an open moment in history where you have the chance to tap into the soul of your purpose. 
 Millions of people right now are experiencing a yearning and desire to awaken to their unique gifts and offer them in service to the world—while living a life of joy and fulfillment. It's a surging of the human spirit, a virtual global awakening, at a scale that no one has ever seen before. Simply put, people are longing to finally feel fully alive and to fulfill their unique purpose in life.
So then why is living a life of meaning and purpose so difficult? It is because our current social systems have not been set up to prepare us to live a life of true purpose. That's because today's culture exists not to nurture our highest aspirations, but to ensure our basic survival.

Our educational system is designed to create good workers who will slot into jobs and careers later in life—not to empower fiery, creative people who are forging the path ahead together.

Our social contracts exist to perpetuate the status quo—not to encourage our highest potentials to blossom. Is it any wonder why so many people's best attempts to evolve themselves and our culture fall short of the goal? We simply haven't been trained in how to bring the possible future into the present.

It's not that they don't have the talent or interest to live purposeful, meaningful life. The issue is far simpler. People struggle to activate their "purpose code" because they haven't woken up to--or are only partially awake to--our situation as a human race. Most people hold on to old, limiting beliefs of themselves and our human story. Overwhelmed by all the changes in the world around them, most people live their lives within a "small story," and therefore confine themselves to a "small self." That's why so many people feel that they don't have a purpose, or that they aren't able to actually *live* the life they were born to live.

     There is a saying that “What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.” I believe that it is butterfly time.  Just as the guidance cells in the mush that is the caterpillar in its cocoon suddenly begin to activate the transformation of mush into butterfly, so too this is the time when we realize that the guidance or imaginal cells of our bodies, our communities, and, yes, even of the cells of our planet are calling us to come together in all our parts to form something gorgeous, interdependent, living lightly on the Earth, cross pollinating cultures, ideas, spiritual forms, glowing with the light that suffuses us, becoming transparent  to transcendence.  And to rise out of the mush we have been caught in these many hundreds of years and to take flight in the air of the new story which is emerging in our time. 

 For the fields we traverse, the many flowers of mind states and soul knowings we now enter are those that belong to the whole, earth, to many cultures, to what I am calling PanGaia. And as the butterfly pollinates and cross pollinates from place to place, flower to flower, so do we also if we have the will and the willingness to discover our purpose and  be part of this extraordinary moment in time.

Three Keys to Empowering New Beliefs

 The first key to activating your life's purpose is to hold new beliefs about yourself and about your role in the Great Story of where humanity is headed.

       Living a great life, requires that you understand the challenges and opportunities of our moment in history. To understand this for myself, I've gathered information from my work in over 100 countries and 40 different cultures and what I've discovered has served as a sure guide on my path. Specifically, I have found five great shifts in our understanding of the story of our time that are affecting everything we do today.  I believe that awakening to the power of these shifts will help you cultivate your sense of compassion and of the infinite possibilities of this moment.

The five shifts are:
• Our understanding of who and what we are and what we need to become in order to be able to deal with the complexity of our time is evolving.

• Human societies are in the process of re-patterning. Social constructs are dissolving and whole new stories are trying to emerge, such as the rise of women to a full partnership with men across the globe, and many others.

• How we conduct business and governance is shifting in the midst of vast ecological and financial changes.  This is perhaps the most important social event of the last five thousand years, because these issues  impact almost everything in our lives.

• The rise and fusion of different cultures--we are swiftly moving towards a planetary civilization that accentuates the uniqueness of each culture while blending them together. Think of the great fusions of food and of music and of beliefs.

• Whole new orders of spirituality are emerging that are not about religion. The new cosmologies are giving us a view of ourselves that we never had before. For the first time ever, we find that we don't just live in the universe, but that the universe lives in us.

This journey begins by letting go of old beliefs and patterns to make room for the new beliefs and capacities that will empower you to awaken to and live your higher purpose.

 The Second key allows you to discover and realize the vast field of inner intelligences—using multiple means of knowing and being in order to gain insight into life at a level to which that most people rarely have access.  These skills are to be found on four levels of your human capacity, sensory-physical, psychological-emotional, mythic-symbolic, and unitive-spiritual. As you learn how to utilize the extraordinary capacities to be found at each of these levels you literally move into new ways of being.  For example, you will learn how to play with time in such a way as to take five minutes and experience it internally as hours—these are "hours" you can use to develop a skill or move a project forward.

You will learn to access "inner experts", willing helpers or personas that will help you navigate the complexity of life with elegance and confidence.
The third key gives you the means to break free from unconscious, habitual ways of reacting to life that were born thousands of years ago, and embrace higher ways of being for a new era.You will discover ways to move through life with ebullience in your bones and an appetite for celebration—seeing everything as an expression of the Creator. You will move through life, motivated not by guilt or obligation, but by gratitude and an abiding zest for doing the things that are called forth by living out of your higher purpose.

Dr. Jean Houston is presenting a FREE 75 minute downloadable audio seminar entitled 3 Keys to Discovering and Living Your True Purpose Available Now at www.DestinyandYou.com .

Dr. Jean Houston is a Scholar, Philosopher and one of the foremost visionary thinkers and doers of our time. She is considered one of the principal founders of the Human Potential Movement. A powerful and dynamic speaker she has served as consultant to several agencies of United Nations including UNICEF and the UNDP. She has worked in over 100 countries training leadership at every level to enhance skills and purpose so as to bring a new mind to bear upon challenging issues. A prolific writer and author of 26 books including A Passion for the Possible and The Mythic Life, Dr. Houston has recently joined the faculty of Evolving Wisdom, today's fastest growing global e-learning company specializing in transformative education, to provide her wisdom online in a cutting edge format.


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

Guru, Healer, Therapist or Movie Star – Are You Addicted?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011 by

Rely on the teachings to evaluate a guru: Do not have blind faith, but also no blind criticism. His Holiness the Dalai Lama power of faith is amazing. Some years ago we were teaching a workshop in Plymouth, England, when a student eagerly told us that Deepak Chopra had 'renounced the world' and was teaching at the local Heart and Soul Healing Center. He was holding gatherings each night and participants were experiencing profound healings and personal transformations. When we went to meet the so-called 'Deepak' we discovered him to be an artful imposter. With his exposure, his followers lost faith and the healings and transformations stopped. This was a classic example of when belief in a guru / healer supersedes our own intelligence, due to the faith and longing to be 'saved'. The real Deepak Chopra later thanked us!
In yogic terms the word guru means 'remover of darkness or ignorance'. One of India's greatest holy men, Ramana Maharshi, often said that the role of the guru was to push the student inside in order to see the guru within– as the true guru is within each and every one of us.
Yet invariably the opposite is true, as seen when a guru encourages adoration, dependence and obedience to them and them only. This is known in India as gurudom (as in kingdom) where the guru amasses a big following and sees him/herself as the ultimate authority but does not empower their students. The guru may even call their followers babies or treat them like children, thereby keeping the student feeling inferior and the teacher all-knowing and superior.
This can lead to an 'enlightened ego,' where one experiences all the wonders of enlightenment but the ego snatches the reward: “I am Enlightened!” Yet who or what is enlightened? This is not unusual, as the ego is subtle and seductive, and it is a trap when we believe we are enlightened. Those that say don’t know and those who know don’t say!
Similarly, many people go to every healer that comes to town in their longing to be fixed or healed. They believe every healer will be the one to solve the mystery of whatever is causing their ill health. We also get addicted to movie stars and their seemingly wonderful lives as a way of filling the void in our own lives.
Hence the scenario where we see followers becoming guru junkies, not just dependent but actually addicted to their guru, as if he or she were a therapist or movie star with their followers doing anything to meet them, wearing necklaces with the guru's photo, and hanging the guru's picture on their wall, but often only seeing them from a distance and knowing nothing about them. As with therapy where a patient may 'fall in love' with their therapist, so the spiritual student can 'fall in love' with the guru, although this is more of a strong infatuation. Many times female followers will fall so in love with the guru that they even submit to sexual abuse, and we know of gurus mistreating students in the name of obedience: if you are truly devoted then you will do this or that for me. The innocent student obeys, only to regret it afterwards and in need of therapy to make sense of it.
We have both had personal time experiencing the guru student relationship. In the late 1960’s Ed went through a classic traditional yogic training where obedience was paramount and his devotion was unswerving. "I trusted that whatever I was told without question and that if I surrendered my point of view or whatever I believed to be true then I would be a candidate for self realization. My guru once said: 'True surrender is when you are right and the guru is wrong and you can surrender being right.' At the same time I believed my guru was the incarnation of god. My blind devotion caused me to be too dependent on my guru and left me unable to function as an ordinary person. I even felt I was more special than others who didn't have this experience, that as I had a yoga name and title I was so superior!"
We worship the guru as god and see them as divine while mistreating or denigrating others. When we were last in India we were visiting the ashram of a guru who hugs each of her thousands of devoted followers. When we arrived the guru was in the middle of a devotional goddess worship, where both she and her many disciples enter into ecstatic states. We noticed a man standing with his young child directly in front of the guru, expressing deep devotion. Soon afterwards we were all in line to catch an elevator to the residential floors. As there was only one elevator there was a long line. Suddenly this man and his child came right to the front. Ed pointed out there was a line of waiting people, at which the man retorted "F…k you!" Aha! The guru is divine; everyone else is not.
This is ironic because in India the most wonderful greeting is Namaste, which means 'the god in me honors the god in you.' Unless we see the god or truth in all people we are like a misguided missile. We limit our own growth and chance to be free. As the Dalai Lama said to us when we were with him at his residence in India: "We are all equal here!"
Many people surrender to a guru with a kind of blind faith, or without checking the teacher out first. Yet, would you marry a person as soon as you met them, without knowing them? Wouldn’t you spend as much time as possible so you know they are right for you? The crazy wisdom Buddhist teacher, Chogyam Trungpa, said we should always be sceptical. Swami Satchidananda said that we should check out a guru just as we would check out a chicken before buying one.
Perhaps we worship a guru so blindly and surrender so willingly due to our own self-doubt, the reluctance to acknowledge our own innate understanding, insights and wisdom. We make the guru greater than we are, demeaning ourselves in the process. And yet the same truth that is within the guru is within us all. What we learn from the external guru is that just as one person can awaken, so we all can. Perhaps we need help, yes, but only until we stop searching outside ourselves. Then the seeker becomes the seer.


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

10 Things That Make the LOHAS Forum Unique

Wednesday, June 8, 2011 by

1. Cross section of attendees is like no other event. Where else will you find Fortune 500 companies shoulder to start up entrepreneurs next to mainstream media and celebrity. It is a great networking event for those who want to stretch their comfort zone and meet new people.

2. Permission to drop the armor of image is granted and expected. Everyone at the event wants to know who each other is at heart first and then get to professional interests second. This makes the attendees really open to each other and sincerely attentive to each other’s needs.

3. On the cutting edge of what is next. Many events have large corporations as the core of their speakers where at LOHAS you see more of the larger corporations in the audience learning how to enter the LOHAS market.

4. Boulder City is the epicenter of LOHAS activity. Despite being just over 100K in population it is the hub of organics, clean tech, outdoor industry, spirituality, alternative medicine, technology, entrepreneurship and is beautiful place to be in June when the LOHAS Forum occurs.

5. St. Julien Hotel & Spa is the best hotel in Boulder and has a very accommodating staff and has fully embraced sustainability. They provide the measurements for landfill alleviation for the LOHAS forum and organic and locally sourced meal options. Last year we were able to recycle 87% of our waste from the event. We strive to do more this year. The spa is top notch as well. 

6. The LOHAS gift room is legendary. Rather than provide a pre stuffed conference bag of brochures that are typically dumped in the hotel room we provide a gift room of various items from LOHAS companies that attendees can pick and choose from. Attendees love this and the gift bags are usually quite stuffed when people leave the room!

7. Market data worth thousands of dollars is presented by a variety of green market trend specialists. Those that are interested on what is happening in the LOHAS space can collect a tremendous amount of insight from these highly sought presentations.

8. Program content transcends green business to include elements to connect with the human spirit and community in a way that is energetic and inspiring.

9. A paperless program for this year and digital signage. The program will be on an app that is also a mobile website. The app will be downloadable on iTunes and will allow those who are not attending to see what is happening by reading the social media feeds, text alerts and uploaded images by attendees. Conference signage are flatscreen monitors that double as media centers for video.

10. Not just a conference but a community celebration! We have a variety of ways built into the event ranging from morning yoga and meditation to musical entertainment to after parties to engage the senses for attendees.

If you are an attendee and have other elements I have forgotten I would love to hear them. Please share!


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

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.


Integrative Medicine; What it is and is not, and what that means for business.

Sunday, August 29, 2010 by
By Brad Lemley Editorial Director, Weil Lifestyle LLC 

Integrative Medicine (IM) is a recent, popular movement that is attracting thousands of doctors and patients worldwide. But hand-in-hand with that burgeoning success is considerable confusion about what IM actually is and is not. Consequently, doctors, patients and LOHAS-oriented businesses need to understand the term if they want to make clear, unequivocal choices about their practices, their personal health and the health of their enterprises. 

So first, let’s explore some emerging nomenclature. Using synthetic drugs and surgery to treat health conditions was known just a few decades ago as, simply, “medicine.” Today, this system is increasingly being termed “conventional,” “orthodox,” or “allopathic” medicine. This is the sort of medicine most Americans still encounter in hospitals and clinics. Often both expensive and invasive, it is also spectacularly good at some things—for example, handling life-threatening conditions such as massive injury or heart attack.

Some conventional medicine is scientifically validated; some is not. Any therapy that is typically excluded by conventional medicine, and that patients use instead of conventional medicine, is known as “alternative” medicine. This catch-all term includes hundreds of old and new practices ranging from acupuncture to homeopathy to iridology. As a general rule, alternative therapies tend to be closer to nature, cheaper and less invasive than conventional therapies (though there are certainly exceptions). Some alternative therapies are scientifically validated; some are not.

An alternative medicine practice used in conjunction with a conventional one is known as a “complementary” medicine. Example: using aromatherapy to calm a patient after surgery. Together, complementary and alternative medicines are often referred to by the acronym CAM. 

Enter IM. As defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health, IM “combines mainstream medical therapies and CAM therapies for which there is some high-quality scientific evidence of safety and effectiveness.” In other words, integrative medicine can be said to “cherry pick” the very best scientifically validated therapies from both conventional and CAM systems.

Andrew Weil, M.D., twice the cover subject of TIME magazine and author of ten books, is undoubtedly IM’s most famous proponent. He is unstinting, furthermore, in his appreciation for conventional medicine’s strengths. “If I were hit by a bus,” he says, “I’d want to be taken immediately to a high-tech emergency room.”

Referring to Dr. Weil’s latest book, Healthy Aging: A Lifelong Guide to Your Physical and Spiritual Well-Being, A New York Times reviewer summed up this orientation, stating that Dr. Weil “doesn’t seem wedded to a particular dogma, Western or Eastern, only to the get-the-patient-better philosophy.”

Integrative medicine, as Dr. Weil defines it, places patient and practitioner as partners in the healing process. All the factors influencing health, wellness and disease are taken into consideration. These include mind, spirit and community, as well as the body.

For most of his more than three decades as a medical doctor and author, Dr. Weil was a lone voice, crying out for a system that put what works best ahead of profit, prejudice and inertia. In 1994, he co-founded the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and a movement began. As of December 2006, over 250 physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners will have completed the program, and many are involved in spreading the word in their home states and countries. In the past 12 years, academic instruction in integrative medicine has grown rapidly nationwide. There are now 31 academic medical centers that offer integrative medicine programs, including the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School and Georgetown, Duke and Columbia Universities.

Unfortunately, such programs are expensive to run. The University of Arizona’s program costs an estimated $3 million a year. Further, integrative medicine in general fights an uphill battle for research dollars. The gentle, nature-based therapies it often uses lack the profit potential of, say, a patentable drug.

To provide a steady stream of funding for integrative medicine research and education, Dr. Weil helped to establish Weil Lifestyle LLC in 2004. The company licenses the right to use Dr. Weil’s name and likeness to companies philosophically aligned with his principles and committed to advancing integrative medicine. To qualify for licensing, the products themselves must also conform to the principles of integrative medicine. Current licensees are: Origins Natural Resources (skin-care products), IdeaSphere (vitamins and supplements), Jamieson Laboratories (vitamins and supplements), Waterford Wedgwood (healthy cookware and housewares), Natural Pet Nutrition (premium pet food), and Ito En Ltd. (tea). 

Dr. Weil donates all of his after-tax profits from royalties received by Weil Lifestyle LLC from the sale of these products to the Weil Foundation, a charitable foundation dedicated to advancing integrative medicine by supporting education and research.

 “I feel very good about the progress that integrative medicine is making,” says Dr. Weil. “Conventional medicine and the whole profit-driven model of medical care is in crisis, and I frankly think it is on the verge of collapse. I am convinced that integrative medicine is the medicine of the future.”

How Weil Lifestyle, LLC Qualifies Companies

Three basic criteria are considered for product licensing with the Weil Lifestyle brand:

1. Dr. Weil must have genuine authority in the category.
2. The products must be cutting-edge, and distinguishable from the competition.
3. The products must have proven efficacy and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. Beyond this, the companies behind the products must also fit certain criteria: 1. Must have world-class research and be dedicated to product development.
2. Senior management must be dedicated to healthy living.
3. Must have a strong marketing department.
4. Must have significant financial resources.
5. Must have established multi-channel distribution.

Finally, the most important criterion is Dr. Weil’s personal endorsement. He evaluates every potential licensed product, and even if it meets all of the above criteria, he may—and often does—reject a product simply because it does not meet his own standards.

Which Therapies Does Integrative Medicine Use?

Integrative medicine is a dynamic medical viewpoint that encompasses virtually any healing therapy for which there is scientific validation of effectiveness. Practitioners of IM hold traditional medical degrees such as M.D., D.O. and R.N. They employ conventional medicine’s synthetic-drug and/or surgery regimen in some cases— particularly for acute disease or trauma—but otherwise favor the following approaches:

1. Alternative medical systems including Ayurveda, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine.
2. Herbal and plant-based therapies, either singly or in combination.
3. “Non-plant” organic/biological therapies such as vitamins and minerals and naturally derived substances such as fish oils or chondroitin.
4. Nutritional guidance according to the latest research from clinical and epidemiological studies.
5. Manipulative and body-based therapies such as massage therapy, cranial sacral work, and exercises of all kinds. 6. Energy therapies such as acupuncture. 7. Mind-body therapies including breathing exercises, meditation, guided imagery and hypnosis, as well as counseling and support groups.

Brad Lemley is Editorial Director of Weil Lifestyle, LLC, an organization founded with the purpose of providing a funding mechanism to the Weil Foundation. Its mission is to be the leading resource for education, information, products, services and philanthropic contributions based on the principles of integrative medicine. Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., Weil Lifestyle is the owner of the website www.drweil.com and the exclusive worldwide licensor of distinctive products and services selected and designed by Dr. Weil. Brad is also a journalist whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, Parade, Life, Reader’s Digest, Psychology Today and many other publications, and is a contributing editor of the science magazine Discover. 


Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability -- Version 14

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 by

BOULDER, CO - When's the last time you attended a conference and one of the keynote speakers was only 16 years old? This was but one of the thought-provoking subject matter experts we were treated to at the 14th annual LOHAS (Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability) Conference, held at the super green St. Julien Hotel here.

Child prodigy Alec Loorz, age 16, gave us hope for the current generation as they will be the first Americans to really grow up on green. He reminded us not to be too preachy to our kids, yet in my view was a bit fatalistic in tone himself, as in, "if we don't all go green the planet will end...." Either way, a provocative presentation and thesis from a gifted young man.

Another top notch keynote came from Suzanne Shelton, a green advertising expert who was armed with relevant data. Did you realize that:

  • Consumers don't go green to save the planet. They are motivated by the same things that cause them to buy "regular" products. For comfort, convenience, aesthetics and saving money -- surprise, the same reasons they buy most products and services;
  • Home health is also a key driver, keeping toxins away from children and making healthy choices for the family are also highly ranked motivators;
  • How do people determine if a product is green? They get their info from labels and look for third party verification;
  • How do customers evaluate whether a company is truly green? First, if they recycle company-wide. Next, if they eliminate toxic chemicals from the manufacturing process. Third, if their facilities run on renewable energy;
  • And finally, getting kids talking to their parents about change is powerful - 68% of adults say they have adjusted their buying habits because of their kids' encouragement.

I spoke on social networking in the green space, which was a very popular subject, we had an overflow crowd. My presenting partner was Mallika Chopra, author and blogger extraordinaire who happens to be the daughter of spirituality and wellness guru Deepak Chopra. I gave an overview of how to build and maintain a successful blog (by the way, "My Inner Green" also appears on LOHAS.com in addition to HuffPo and SIerraClubGreenHome.com), and Mallika talked about the role of social responsibility in the blogging community. Her site is called Intent.com, give it a visit, and of course, follow me at SCGH.com or on Facebook and Twitter. Lots of questions from aspiring bloggers. A lively discussion and a great audience ranging from early 20s to 60+.

LOHAS founder and organizer Ted Ning was very pleased with this year's conference, as attendance held about even in a recession year. Participants came from as far away as Singapore, Australia, Peru and France, among others. Key sponsors were Mohawk Flooring, makers of bamboo and other sustainable materials, and Icestone, maker of recycled countertops and related materials.

Boulder Colorado itself is a perfect setting for LOHAS. One of the first cities in the world to be truly green, Boulder is a pioneer and leader in all things sustainable. The St. Julien Hotel is one of the first and best green hotels in America, leaving no stone unturned in its construction, operations and food and beverage service to be a top to bottom sustainable organization.

Overall, LOHAS does not have the corporate heavy hitters I met at Fortune Brainstorm Green or the Dow Jones Eco-Nomics conference. It does, however, provide a true cross section of leading green citizens from all walks of life, all meeting to exchange ideas and promote sustainability. A worthwhile event indeed.


Follow Jennifer Schwab on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SCGreen_Home

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. 

We can muse over what can be, but we are living what is.

Friday, June 11, 2010 by
There it was, right in front of me.  Children gathered in groups, in various incarnations of homogenous “uniforms” that are no doubt found in every grammar school across the country.
From afar, I could see easily identify the sports-minded, the musicians, the free-styling artistes and the more academically-minded readers -- but as I got closer, the demarcations that distinguished the groups blurred.  There were athletes catching up with school work, dancers changing into soccer uniforms and everyone -- and I mean everyone -- was sporting Silly Bandz on their wrists.
Yes, the comfort in commonalities is no doubt why kids instinctively gravitate towards others who share the same interests from a very young age. But the struggle for individuality within the group provides the rich exchange that allows children to grow into adults who appreciate the differences that make us individuals.
The sustainability movement has its niches, too. No self-respecting marketer would declare that there is only one type of customer, yet how many distinctive buckets do you need to understand the green market? Furthermore, once you settle on your definitions, how long do you hold onto them?  It has been said that the one constant is change. People are ever-evolving as the marketplace greets us with new standards, new products and services to meet needs that aren’t always obvious even to the consumers who purchased them.
As socially conscious marketers we have a puzzle in the paradox of green: we wish to move the needle to a world that is less dependent on “stuff” -- yet our purpose as manufacturers and retailers  is to sell what we make to turn a profit. 
One could argue that nothing is really sustainable as long as humans are involved.  We are always taking, making, breaking and shaking up the model -- and along the way, we use or make new components to meet our needs. What is so interesting to me is that we have an unquenchable thirst for the new.  In fact, technology has created new markets and dependencies (think fax, cell phone, now Twitter, Facebook, etc.) that have created a new generation of junkies for products that didn’t even exist but 5 years ago!
So how do we reconcile the need to improve ourselves and our surroundings with a mandate to consume less?  
It is a conundrum for all marketers, and in particular those who have chosen to make their companies and their brands mouthpieces for the movement.
What is the biggest problem we have as promoters of green products?  
OURSELVES. We forget who the customer is and why they really are attracted to our solution. We tend to get caught up in the romance of sustainability, the bigger purpose, the mission.
Our customers? Not so much.
Each of us has a vision of who we are, the bigger group we fit into, and the way we deviate from that group. We buy to meet a variety of needs -- some, vital to our existence (food, shelter, health), who we are as part of a group (suburbanite, executive, farmer, teacher) -- and other needs that are more subjective in nature (fashionable, artistic, knowledgeable, spiritual).
If you look at the way most companies group customers in various shades of green -- through the lenses of how we (and our customers) see ourselves, you’ll see how far off the mark we are.
It feels funny to write it, but perhaps it is time we throw out this model and start fresh. (Or maybe “recycle” what works, and be more efficient with our approach.)
Green shouldn’t be about denial.
Green shouldn’t be about pain.
Green shouldn’t be about sacrifice.
Green shouldn’t be all about the planet.
(Wait a minute! That last one sounds so heretical!) 
Truthfully, the planet will continue to exist without us. It may take a long time, but it will heal itself.  It is us who are in trouble. We are arrogant to think that we can continue to support humanity if we destroy the very thing that sustains us.  In that light, sustainability is the ultimate exercise in practicality!
Green should be tied to real life expectations.  Not some idealized vision of what should be.  We can muse over what can be, but we are living what is.  How do we improve on the here and now? How do we make things taste better, improve our health, cost less, use fewer resources, give us more time to pursue what interests us? 
Sustainability in my mind, is all about balance and the pursuit of happiness. That is how we need to segment our customers: by what they need to achieve their own vision of where they fit into the world. 
We must remember that consumers are just like us when we take off our marketing hats and put down the green Kool-Aid. They see themselves as part of a bigger group and they buy products that make them feel good within their means.  Means often refers to money, but time, convenience, access -- they are all “means” as well. 
So when we are segmenting our customers and sharing the benefits of products that are relatively (note that term!) better than traditional products, we need to explain how the product makes them happier, more successful, more like the vision they hold of themselves. We need to focus on the reasons why our products let them be the persons that they are.
We need to start equating sustainability with plain old common sense.  We need to segment people into groups that make it easy for them to see how our products fit practically into their lives. Only then will the paradox of sustainable consumption be resolved.

Written by
President, Founder earthsense

Where Did the LOHAS Consumer Come From?

Thursday, June 11, 2009 by

To understand LOHAS, one must understand the development of sustainability and environmentalism; the precursors to LOHAS.  I feel there are several prominent leaders who had notable impacts on the evolution of modern day sustainability concepts According to Andres Edward’s The Sustainability Revolution, the foundation of modern sustainability is in the human connection with nature, expressed first in United States through the New England Transcendentalist movement of the 1800s.  Many Transcendentalist thought that leaders, such as Henry Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson emphasized the importance of nature as a mystery full of symbols and spirituality.  I think Emerson articulated this best when he said,
“The Transcendentalist adopts the whole connection of spiritual doctrine.  They believe in miracle; in the perpetual openness of the human mind to new influx of light and power; they believe in inspiration and ecstasy”. - Emerson

Sounds familiar to the ideals that LOHAS embraces today doesn’t it?  Emerson’s buddy, Henry Thoreau, wrote Walden in 1854 and described his experience of living a simple life in a small hut next to Walden pond in Concord, Massachusetts.  Thoreau emphasized the virtues of libertarianism and individualism. 

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”. - Walden

Sounds very Zen eh? The works of Emerson and Thoreau helped establish the transcendentalist movement and the view of nature as a teacher and was enhanced by other writers and naturalists in the 20th Century.  One of these was John Muir who was a U.S. inventor, writer, naturalist, and conservationist.  He played a large role in bringing attention to the importance of conservation of the U.S. wetlands in the early 1900’s.  But Muir had a different take on things. Unlike transcendentalists who saw nature as a way to reflect divine aspects of self, Muir emphasized the crucial need to protect vital resources such as water and forest supply.  Also, he emphasized the crucial role of wilderness for recreation and to uplift the human spirit. I think we can all relate to this as we tend to get that rocky mountain high when camping or interacting with nature is some way. I certainly do! No substance abuse needed!

 “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike”.  - Muir

Muir traced the environmental impact of sheep and cattle ranching and ultimately influenced President Theodore Roosevelt to establish a series of conservation programs that included the creation of some inconspicuous parks you may have heard of such as; 

(a) Yosemite National Park
(b) The Petrified Forest
(c) Sequoia National Forest
(d) Grand Canyon National Parks

Muir was instrumental in the development the Sierra Club that has had a long lasting influence on conservation issues. He once said, “Do something for wilderness and make mountains glad”. Translation  – happy mountains are good mountains.

Following in Muir’s footsteps during the 1940s and 50s, the American conservationist Aldo Leopold extended the notion that nature is not merely a mirror and teacher, but an ecosystem that is directly tied to human survival and the baseline of community.

 “The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and animals, or collectively: the land.” - Leopold

 Leopold’s vision and writings stand as a milestone in regard to concerns about the ethical treatment of the environment and how it relates to community. 

You can’t talk about LOHAS evolution without giving kudos to Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring. She was one of the first environmentalists of the modern era who wrote during a time when there was very limited awareness about the threat of industry on the environment.  She is particularly known for her 1962 writings on pesticides and more specifically the hazardous effects of Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane (DDT) that was commonly used as a pesticide against mosquitoes and commercial insecticide at that time.  If you look back at old photos during that time you can see pictures of tankers spaying DDT in neighborhoods while children follow closely behind frolicking in the spray. Carson believed that the leaders of industry and business were very narrow sighted and she suggested that DDT and other pesticides cause cancer.  She believed it was an era of specialists, each of whom sees his or her own problem and is unaware of or intolerant of the larger frame into which it fits.  Carson was one of the first to publicly state that the 1960s was an era dominated by industry, in which the means to make a dollar at whatever cost was seldom challenged. 

“When the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence of damaging results of pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth”. - Carson

  Her writings were some of the first to present how unregulated businesses practice can result in health risks, and she brought this information into the public view.  This raised awareness of industrial chemical usage and sparked a public outcry that eventually led to DDT becoming banned in the U.S. in 1972.   This was the beginning of a time when people began to question business practice and to develop additional consciousness of the connection between the environment and personal health.  The works of Leopold and Carson became iconic because of the powerful blend of environment and ethics.  The awareness raised by Carson and others environmentalist during the 1960s culminated in 1970 with the first Earth Day celebration that attracted 20 million people to enthusiastic and peaceful rallies throughout the U.S. Earth Day served to educate the general public about the impact of industrial society on the environment.  Also, it began the process of government to pass laws such as the Clean Air Act (1963) and the Clean Water Act (1972) to protect the environment and establish regulatory agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose purpose is to protect human health and the environment. I think there are many different factors that tie into the evolution of LOHAS. However I think these particular individuals influence has had a profound impact on the development of the current LOHAS concept.  In the next segment I will examine the more modern shifts that have occurred to establish the market segments within LOHAS.