Do you live at your peak?
September 14, 2012
VAIL, Colorado – The Vail Symposium’s inaugural health and wellness event, Living at Your Peak, kicked off Thursday in Vail, with Friday’s sessions providing a glimmer into the future of what many town officials and economic developers hope will become part of Vail’s new identity: health and wellness.
There were perhaps no better definitions of what it means to live at one’s peak than the ones given at Dr. Cliff Saron’s interactive session, Brain, Body and Mind: Positive Psychological and Physiological Effects of Meditation.
In an hour and 15 minutes, Saron, a neuroscientist and researcher at the University of California-Davis, tried to get the group of about 15 to examine the nature of their own minds. It’s the overarching agenda of meditation – to gain insights about the way the mind works, he said.
His session echoed some of the overarching themes of the entire three-day weekend – a weekend about reaching within oneself to better understand the mind, body and spirit as they relate to personal health and wellness; a weekend full of events and seminars that try to help attendees achieve a better understanding of health and wellness through education and self-awareness.
In Saron’s session, attendees got a first-hand meditation experience from a man who has personally presented research to the Dalai Lama.
Saron had a calming effect on the group, and not just because he spoke of meditation’s benefits to personal health. His voice is soothing and his delivery relaxing, and while he couldn’t train the group how to better regulate their emotions in just an hour, he certainly got the ball rolling.
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A 10-minute period of silence is all it took for many in the group to experience everything from pure relaxation to the type of refreshment felt only after a mid-day catnap.
Imagine what could happen in 20 minutes, or better yet, three months of meditation for 8 to 10 hours per day, seven days a week? Saron has researched a group of people who did exactly that, and has been fascinated by his findings.
While that kind of commitment to sitting in silence with nothing more than your thoughts is a bit extreme, it’s amazing what 10 minutes – or even a three-day seminar – can do for the mind, body and spirit.
Mike Christenberry, a massage therapist and co-owner of Jointworx in Edwards, is a volunteer at Living at Your Peak. He sat in on Saron’s session nodding and smiling the whole way through. For Christenberry, the meditation was just one of many journeys offered at the event that he found valuable.
“I think the event has been useful because it’s blended the physical and mental aspects of our lives – our hesitations, our motivations, how to locate them, how to renew them, how to redefine them,” Christenberry said. “And because we try to separate our mind, body and spirit into three different entities, it’s nice to see a bunch of people who have a common goal of bringing them all together to say, ‘what’s the best way I can treat my body with my mind, and what’s the best way I can treat my mind with my body?'”
And not every fitness or interactive session presenter had a definitive answer for those questions, but the exploration was enough.
Dr. Allen Lim was the presenter at Friday’s general session and he spoke about the constant quest to find balance in life in a world that is generally unbalanced. Lim, who has coached Tour de France cyclists and other athletes, has always preached this notion of balance yet he finds it a bit cliche.
He spoke of pain and suffering he’s felt in his own life and said that after 20 years of trying to help people reach their peak, he feels there really is no such thing as perfect balance.
But, he urged a packed room at the Four Seasons to continue to keep striving for balance – because that’s what makes us human.
It was one more thought-provoking session at Living at Your Peak – thoughts that people like Christenberry are excited people are having.
“The more time we spend having these conversations that we don’t have at Starbucks or book clubs, the more it can amplify into a culture,” Christenberry said. “Into a way of actually carrying ourselves forward as a community to create an environment of wellness where as soon as you land the plane, parts of you are getting better.”
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.