Andria Friesen, board president of the Sun Valley Wellness Festival and Conference, identified four defining pillars of the event, thematic ideals that unify all the speakers and workshops and capture what the festival is all about.
Concepts of body, mind, spirit and environment course through the veins of the festival, and each of the myriad speakers tapped for this year’s proceedings touches upon at least one of those topics.
The ultimate goal of the festival is to synthesize those ideas into one cohesive agenda for personal health and wellness. Few professionals in the wellness industry today achieve that balance among science, spirituality and well-being more concisely and, seemingly, effortlessly than does Joe Dispenza.
The best-selling author and world-renowned self-help guru will serve as the 2019 Wellness Festival keynote speaker.
In the course of his celebrated career, Dispenza has published several books, recorded numerous guided meditations and has been invited to speak in more than 30 countries on every continent except Antarctica, though he joked that he would certainly like to check that box someday.
In a manner that perfectly embodies the Wellness Festival’s objectives, Dispenza draws upon his extensive knowledge of neuroscience and physics to support theories on how a person might use the power of positive thinking and willpower to live a healthier life.
“When you change your thoughts, behavior and emotions, there are significant biological changes as well,” he explained. “My interest is to demystify that process so people have all the necessary tools to change their lives.”
His hypotheses are not purely speculative, nor merely clinical. Dispenza is the living proof that his methods work.
“I got run over by a truck and broke six vertebrae when I was in my 20s,” he said, candidly. Surgery was not an option for him, so a moment came when he realized that if he were to survive and regain his mobility, he would have to do it himself.
Drawing upon his training in chiropractic medicine, he forged a personal routine of exercise, developed a healthy diet and, most importantly, never lost hope that one day his hard work would pay off. Of course, one day it did.
“It worked,” he said. “I started helping sick people the same way, and it worked for them, too. Then I got to thinking, if it worked on sick people, can it work on well people?”
In 2007, he published his first book, “Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind,” which presents his theories and practices in a straightforward manner that anyone can follow without wading through seas of medical jargon.
The main point that Dispenza preaches in “Evolve Your Brain” and in his follow-up works—“You Are the Placebo,” “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” and “Becoming Supernatural”—is that people are not “hardwired to live a specific way.”
“They’re not doomed by their genetic profile,” he said.
Dispenza begins with a simple enough concept—that positive thinking can improve one’s life—but he backs this up with very clear science.
“In this conversation—philosophically, intellectually, theoretically, analytically—evidence has the loudest voice,” he said. “We have evidence that you make significant brain changes and can rebalance your heart by changing your mindset. Whether it’s cancer, lupus, Parkinson’s, thyroid conditions, anxiety, depression, spinal injuries, whatever—I have worked with people who have improved by changing the way they think about their conditions.”
One of his key tenets focuses on the interplay between personal stress and personal harmony.
“There are three types of stress,” he said, listing “physical, chemical and emotional.”
Each type of stress has a corresponding type of balance. Everybody deals with stress in those three forms on a day-to-day basis, but a person can counteract the effects of those stresses by maintaining personal balance.
“For physical stress, take care of your body. Exercise,” Dispenza said. “To manage chemical balance, make the right choices about what you put into your body, the food you eat.”
Those two are fairly straightforward, but the third can be tricky.
“Emotional balance seems to be the most difficult one for people,” he said. “All stresses wind up as psychological or emotional stress. How do you teach people to regulated emotional stress? You can do the other things, but if you’re judging yourself or you’re anxious, you’re not going to get better.”
Training people to do that is exactly what Dispenza specialized in, and, ultimately, how he defines the concept of wellness.
“[Wellness is] certainly not the absence of disease, which is how it’s often portrayed,” he said. “Wellness is the expression of this life fore. Being well is being in balance, physically, chemically and emotionally.”
As a wellness practitioner, he finds that the important—and most challenging—thing is not simply getting well, but staying well.
“It’s not just having a healthy body, but being resilient. There will always be challenges. I try to teach people how to bounce back, how not to give up. That’s maintaining well-being.”
Dispenza’s keynote lecture at the Wellness Festival will incorporate all those ideas and more. An accomplished and experienced speaker, Dispenza leads audiences through sessions in a lively, often genial manner, providing personal anecdotes, clinical evidence, scientific theories and spiritual philosophy all under one coherent umbrella with one particular goal in mind: to inspire people to get well and stay that way.