There's a wellness revolution going on, but creating real global change depends on one thing: you.
Such was the conclusion of Arianna Huffington and Dr. Frank Lipman, who spoke Thursday as part of Urban Zen NYC's "Conversations on Sustainable Wellness" series.
During the hour and a half talk, Dr. Lipman and Arianna made the case for a wellness revolution that would not only transform individual lives -- in body, mind and spirit -- but would even help solve the health care crisis in the United States. Dr. Lipman, who is the founder of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center and a long-time HuffPost blogger, ended the night's discussion by answering his own opening question: How do we get the revolution out there?
"The wellness revolution," he said, "starts with a personal revolution."
You have a choice: Drive yourself into the ground or start making different, better choices. Our culture has made unhealthy decisions the default. Today, we need to build toward a critical mass of wellness-consciousness.
Dr. Lipman says Arianna has given a voice to the integrative medicine world and helped begin the revolution.
"For me, it's not just the detoxification of the body, it's the detoxification of the mind," Huffington said. And during the conversation, she and Dr. Lipman described some key practices for attaining such holistic healing.
- Get more sleep: Arianna is perhaps most famous for establishing nap rooms in the Huffington Post Media Group's new digs at AOL, named Napquest 1 and Napquest 2 (because AOL owns Mapquest). At Urban Zen, she again vouched for the magical power of a 20-minute nap.
- Get better sleep: Good sleep is contingent upon how dark the room is. To achieve this, Dr. Lipman advocates for an "electronic sundown" (i.e. turn off your electronics) and to sleep in a pitch black room. Cover lights with scarves. Nap instead of eating sweets as an afternoon pick-me-up. And, Dr. Lipman says, if all else fails, get an eye mask.
- Unplug: Leave electronic devices in a place other than your bedroom. If you wake in the middle of the night and look at your nearby phone or computer, you've disrupted the sleep cycle even more. During waking life, too, know when it is time to disconnect from the hive. (Arianna imagines a "GPS for the Soul" that could tell us when to break, when to meditate, when to breathe. It would, obviously, be wireless.)
- Stop judging others: Forgiveness is one of the keys to being a well person. Cultivating it allows you to live in the present moment. It's impossible to connect with other people if we constantly set unrealistic standards for them. So stop holding grudges. Quit ruminating. Forgive.
- Stop judging yourself: Our self judgments influence our well being. The most important thing in the wellness game is to learn to get out of your head. The endless chatter of thought can be exhausting. Learn to hold thoughts briefly before letting go. Dealing with our sense of guilt and our self-criticism is the path to personal wholeness and connecting with others.
- Be permeable: It is OK -- it is good, even -- to feel sad, hurt or angry about something. But you shouldn't hold onto these feelings for very long. Here we can look to the example of children, who can go from temper tantrum to fits of laughter in an instant.
- Find your joy triggers: Joy can be life changing. Find the things that make you happy and make them a part of your life.
"I think that health is connected to wisdom," Huffington said. "If there's one thing the world is starving for, it's wisdom."
With the Internet and organizations like Urban Zen, we don't have to wait. The information -- the wisdom -- is available. We have the power to revolutionize wellness now.
Now, if only we had that GPS for the soul...
Read a recap of the discussion at the Urban Zen website.
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