Wise woman. It’s a mythological archetype as old as time. Essentially, it refers to a community’s well-respected elder, a person with a knowledge of lore, magical charms, therapeutic skills, herbal medicine, and/or a deep-rooted history and morality tales. This person, brimming with knowledge, dedicates herself to healing—it’s their raison d’être. Lucky for us, wellness warriors exist in real time. Note the following coterie of wellness-obsessed, therapy-bringing health advocates below. Each one plays a vital role as a modern-day wise woman. Salud!
Sound therapist, meditation teacher, and author, Sara Auster brings transformative experiences and restorative sound bath therapies to the world. Deeply immersive, her sound sessions use harmonic vibrations “created by singing bowls, tuning forks, gongs, and other overtone-emitting instruments to stimulate alpha and theta brain waves.” This envelops listeners in deep, meditative states. Awash in the resulting tranquility, participants often feel a sense of full body restoration, emotional reset, and ongoing calm. Sara, who describes wellbeing as “being able to hold beautiful space for yourself,” calls her work an invitation to a new world.
“This world offers unexpected information, insight, and creativity that is available when you move out of your mind and listen deeply with every cell in your body. It holds the possibility of experiencing your life in new ways as you listen to yourself, others, and everything around you differently. It offers deep rest, restoration, and connection to your inner sensing self,” she explains. She suggests a daily meditation practice, being mindful of what you put into your body and how you move it, and also urges folks to pay attention to “the words you speak, how you express yourself in the world through your actions, and how you make other people feel.” Access her sound baths on AUSTER SOUND, her membership site, which has a library of on-demand content as well as live, monthly sound baths.
With a hand in conceiving and executing the concept for some of the world’s most lauded spas, Sedona-based Sylvia Sepielli, founder of SPAd, has played a fundamental role in today’s still evolving spa culture. Whether it’s the ancient Roman-intoned, hydrotherapy-savvy Spa Village at The Gainsborough Bath Spa (Bath, England), the glamorous Dolder Spa at The Dolder Grand (Zurich, Switzerland)—an urban retreat that harnesses surrounding nature—or Palm Beach Florida’s The Breakers Spa (at The Breakers hotel), which summons dappled sunshine and cobalt seas, her ability to intuit and reinterpret a setting into a spa has no equal. Simply spending time in one of her spa creations provides a dose of sense-of-place, while also offering a chance to take an inner journey.
Regarding the industry, Sylvia fears it has become too corporate. As Millennials and Gen Z quickly become the new spa regulars, she vows “to focus on developing and supporting unique owner/operators and non-spa spa experiences,” wishing to keep things as soulful as possible. A philosopher who never stops learning, Sylvia advocates being open to new experiences and embracing differences of opinions “as much as you embrace all other sources of diversity. Above all,” she says, “take pleasure in your life.”
Co-Founder, Chair & CEO Global Wellness Institute and Global Wellness Summit
Susie Ellis. chair and CEO of the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute has a prediction. In our very near future, all travel will become wellness travel. She points out that, for most people, wellness is a major priority. Even the medical community now recognizes the value of self-care, something spas have long touted. Long a voice and leading authority on wellness trends, Ellis believes that there are myriad ways to embrace wellbeing. Her advice is simple. “Explore and find things you enjoy and love—things that are good for your overall wellbeing: body, mind and spirit.”
She notes that the time and money spent on self-care is worthwhile, because when you honor yourself, you also honor others. “You do it not just for yourself, but also for the other people in your life.” A popular speaker and co-founder, chair, and CEO of the Global Wellness Summit, an organization focused on facilitating collaboration among the wellness industry’s thought leaders, Ellis explains that if COVID taught us anything, it may be that “relying solely on the medical system for our health is not enough.” While the medical community clearly contributes to our overall health and wellbeing in vitally important ways, Ellis argues that we each need to do our part to keep ourselves healthy. “Prevention is the north star,” she says.
Kim Marshall & Darlene Fiske
Co-Founders: S’Well Public Relations
Best known as the dynamic duo of wellness public relations, Kim Marshall and Darlene Fiske have more than half a century of combined experience in the spa and wellness industries. Luckily for everyone with a stake in salubrious living, these highly motivated, deeply entrenched experts founded S’Well in 2018, when they recognized a need for strategic messaging in the growing, $4.5 trillion global wellness industry.
They cover a wide range of sectors, from travel to public health. Consultants, speakers, media mavens, publicists, idea makers, connectors, these two creatives feel lucky to be doing what they love. Knowing so much about the industry, how do they define wellness? Darlene seeks balance. “I work hard and relax hard. For me, that might mean a walk along the beach, listening to the birds in my backyard, or meeting some friends for a hike. One of my goals is to always keep moving. We all should move in some way, every day. I think that’s one of the keys to longevity.”
For Kim, wellness is about the Golden Rule of being true to yourself. “How can we love our neighbors if we don’t take the time to love ourselves? How can we have the energy to help others if our own bodies are broken?” she asks.
In terms of wellness trends on their minds, the S’Well duet have opinions. Darlene lauds “travel as reset”— that is, taking time for meaningful getaways. Kim, moved by the pandemic’s consequences, has focused on something she calls “Dying Well Matters.” “My new motto this year is ‘say your saids and do your dos’—don’t let people guess how you feel about them, especially those dearest to you. And don’t put off your dreams. You never know when it will be too late.”