News & Politics

Unplug and Recharge: Can Arianna Huffington Really Make Politicos More Self-Aware?

In a stark contrast to the endless talk and politics, Arianna Huffington launches campaign for more self-awareness at the Democratic Convention.
One of the hot spots, or rather cool places, at the Denver Democratic Convention is the "Huffington Post Oasis," a suite of offices, adjacent to the Big Tent on Wynkoop and 15th St., transformed into a tranquil hive of blissed-out activities, occasionally intruded upon by journalists.

I had a fabulous massage there by Naveena Valley, who along with a bevy of body workers and instructors, was volunteering her time for the cause. I sent Mother Jones' David Corn for a visit; he got a hand message and some yoga instruction. We were followed by Timesman David Carr, who got body work, and based upon the photo in Living Editor, Verena Von Pfetten's blog -- it was quite an experience. Also, check out Corn, who looks like he's in big pain in a yoga pose.

Upon entering the Oasis visitors are treated to massages, facials and yoga instruction. Black clad, mellowed out volunteers serve all manner of tasty vegan food and super-healthy, greenish smoothies. Now, it's very easy to see all this as a clever marketing tactic -- a smart way to set up a contrast with all the heady talk and activism going on in the Colorado Progress Now/Sustainable Colorado/Daly Kos Tent next door with dozens of panels and talking heads, not to mention the events all over town and in the Pepsi Center.

There has always been a level of disdain for the New Age lifestyle, which many activists see as self-centered and indulgent. It is easy for hard-charging type A politicos to scoff at mediation, yoga, body work -- all the things that force one to slow down and breathe. Of course, it doesn't automatically stop the racing in the brain, but it is a start.

But aside from the PR coup, Huffington is very serious about her efforts to make people more conscious of taking care of themselves. She has reoriented some of the content on the HuffPo to reflect this, splitting Style from Living -- saying sex, fashion, and the rest will be in Style, but the area of self-awareness will now be covered in the Living Section. Von Pfetten is the editor.

Huffington attributes her newfound commitment to being very happy with the results of working on herself. "I've always done meditation," said Huffington, who has a well-known history with a spiritual adviser, "But this past year I really worked hard on integrating the different elements. I've been happier, less stressed, and more productive."

What about the nominee and the political heavy hitters? What is your advice?

"Get more sleep, take some time to meditate, connect the head and the body," said Huffington. "The result will be fewer mistakes and more time in making wiser decisions. Clinton is famous for saying some of his biggest errors where when he was sleep deprived."

Huffington added, "I really do think this is a moment in the culture when a critical mass is turning to more self-awareness, to protect themselves from the negative stuff all around them. We really do need to learn to unplug and recharge, if we are to be successful."

And if anyone can change people's habits it is Arianna. Her books are bestsellers, and she is a constant media presence. After all, the Huffington Post started out of nowhere (except of course it had Arianna) and is now one of the most visible new media sites in the world, right up there with Drudge Report and Perez Hilton, but of course with far more substance, amidst the beautiful bodies and the Hollywood gossip.
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.
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