Friday, May 9, 2008

Wellness is a matter of peace

Dan Millman will be keynote spear at 11th annual event

Express Staff Writer

Humans for the most part are creatures who strive. Whether it's for that perfect family life, a better-paying job, success in one's career or for personal growth, we strive. Wellness is a catch-all term that sums up the many aspects of health care often sought out to deal with our over-developed sense that there is something mo' better out there for us. We want it all but we also want to be peaceful while in the process of getting it.

Best-selling author Dan Millman is a man who addresses exactly that theme. He will be the keynote speaker of the Sun Valley Wellness Festival, in the Limelight Room, in Sun Valley from 7-8 p.m. Friday, May 23.

Millman says he was called to teach. In his semi-autobiographical novel, "Way of the Peaceful Warrior" (1980), Millman relates how he met a wise man whom he dubbed Socrates at 3 a.m. at a service station in Berkley, Calif. From there his life flowed. Millman had been a champion trampolinist, co-captain of the 1968 NCAA University of California gymnastics team, a gymnastics instructor at Stanford University and a professor of physical education at Oberlin College.

But over time he shifted his focus from helping others develop into athletes to helping others develop a talent for living. He has since penned 13 self-help books, and travels all over the world on speaking tours.

Millman was the keynote speaker at the first Sun Valley Wellness Festival in 1997. He recalls that he went on a "walk and run with 'Big Bird' Dick Fosbury" when last here.

His keynote address this year will focus on the unfocused.

"The challenge as my own path has developed is that I'm a generalist," he said. "The media is more interested in experts. But I'm someone who can speak on many topics in a sensible way. That's what I do."

In fact, Millman's discourse has a point. He talks about wellness, and how the challenge is in the application.

"Turning what we know into what we do," he said. "That's one of the areas in which I've been successful. The question is how do we actually live. I try to make sense about how to apply wellness principles to everyday projects.

"Today there is a glut of information on diet and exercise, protein and green powders, vitamins, minerals. But the research shows that for most of us it's back to the basics—moderate, regular exercise, a balanced diet and getting enough rest."

The archetypal peaceful warrior is in all of us, Millman said.

"We're all striving to live with a peaceful heart, but we also need a warrior spirit. It takes courage to live in this world—courage to love in this world. The peaceful warrior's way is not my way—or an exclusive club—it's our way. We're all striving. The old man who I call Socrates said the real battles are inside, inner battles, to live in the present moment. How many are able to do it? I show practical ways to actually find inner peace and satisfaction."

Millman said his talks are not scripted.

"I never know where it's going," he said. "I just open my heart and open my mouth."

His success comes with discipline honed as an athlete. While he studies science, martial arts and spiritual traditions, he makes it clear he is not a health professional. He is rather a very fit, 62-year-old "coach."

"Life is an experiment," he said. "We have to figure out what works for us. I have great respect for people finding what works for them. I don't believe there is any one right kind of practice—religion, book, movie—just the best for a person at the right time. I don't take credit for where I've ended up. I find it useful and meaningful and I love it."

Festival Schedule

Friday, May 23

· 1 to 4 p.m., workshops and presentations at Sun Valley Resort. Visit for times and locations.

· 7 p.m., keynote speaker Dan Millman, Limelight Room, Sun Valley Inn. Tickets: $100 VIP, $40 general

Saturday, May 24

· 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., workshops and presentations

· 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Exhibit and Hands-on Hall in Limelight Room, Sun Valley Inn

· 8-10 p.m., Sally Baldwin, "Communion with the Archangels," nexStage Theatre

Sunday, May 25

· 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., workshops and presentations

· 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Exhibit and Hands-on Hall

· 8-9 p.m., Alberto Villoldo, "Courageous Dreaming," Continental Room, Sun Valley Inn.

Monday, May 26

· 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., workshops and presentations

· 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Exhibit and Hands-on Hall

· Tickets are available at Chapter One in Ketchum or Students receive a 15 percent discount with a valid student ID.

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