The Politics of Sustainable Wellness: A Conversation on Wisdom

On Thursday evening, the Urban Zen Foundation opened its doors for the third panel discussion in our Sustainable Wellness Series with Dr. Frank Lipman. For this event, we had the privilege of welcoming Arianna Huffington – a long time friend of Urban Zen – onto the stage to dive into the politics of sustainable wellness.

From the onset, it was an invigorating, participatory evening. Urban Zen Center was filled with guests who were eager to hear Arianna weigh in on the subject at hand, and our online community was watching on Livestream. The Twittersphere was buzzing with comments, opinions and questions creating an energy that spoke to the timeliness and importance of the conversation topic.

The conversation launched with a beautiful, inclusive welcome from Donna Karan. She shared the history of Urban Zen and her passion for well-being. She spoke of how her husband, Stephan Weiss, illuminated her path and set her heart on fire for true sustainable wellness.

After Donna’s welcome, Dr. Lipman ignited the panel discussion with Arianna. He began by articulating his respect and gratitude for Arianna’s work and asked her to advise on how to get the necessary momentum behind the wellness revolution.

Arianna began by saying, “it really is about integration. We’ve abandoned a lot of old wisdom and it’s like an amputation of wisdom…I come from a culture that revers old age. Health is connected to wisdom. If there is one thing the world is starving for, it’s wisdom, not IQ.”

This insight became a theme of the evening. The evening’s conversation tackled wellness from a variety of angles highlighting how powerfully the subject of health and wellness has permeated all facets of life and how desperately we need to move ahead using wisdom as our greatest tool.

Throughout the event, Dr. Lipman and Arianna took in questions from the audience both in the room and online and were eloquently able to share their personal wisdom and perspectives with renewed energy every time.

On the topic of politics, Arianna spoke thoughtfully of current prevailing wisdoms and the idea of leadership saying, “I think right now we are going through a period where we don’t have the kind of bold leadership that the times demand. At every stage in our history has been hard. Right now, we don’t have the leadership that is prioritizing where the country needs to go. Our healthcare debate was so incredibly disconnected from what the real healthcare crisis is. Prevention and wellness was an insignificant part of the debate and there is absolutely no other way to tackle costs.”

Dr. Lipman was passionate about the subject as well and weighed in with his own deeply mindful perspectives. One of the most beautiful moments of the evening presented itself when Dr. Lipman drew from the wisdom of a renowned global leader saying, “There is great Mother Theresa quote that I love. She said, ‘There are no great acts, only small acts done with great love.'”

It was a powerful reminder to seek out wisdom and to count on our collective ability to create change. In the end, the evening was a call to action articulated best by Dr. Lipman when he said, “We have to permeate the culture with this concept of wellness. We have to make a commitment to change ourselves and this crazy world that we live in.”


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