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On Meditation Documentary Launches Kickstarter Campaign

Actor Giancarlo Esposito is among the many public figures featured in On Meditation.

Snapdragon Films has announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the completion of a feature-length film about the practice of meditation. On Meditation: Documenting the Inner Journey is a series of short portraits which, to date, feature Buddhist Monk The Venerable Metteya, yoga superstar Elena Brower, two-time national book award-winning author Peter Matthiessen, actor Giancarlo Esposito (of Breaking Bad fame) and Congressman Tim Ryan, author of A Mindful Nation. Funds will allow the filmmakers to continue shooting in order to create a full-length work. For every advance DVD backed on Kickstarter, a copy will be donated to a school or institution serving at-risk youth, veterans or seniors.

The brainchild of award-winning filmmaker Rebecca Dreyfus, On Meditation was born from her own trepidation experienced in beginning her own meditation practice. “For a high-energy New Yorker like me, sitting quietly can be the most challenging thing you ever do,” says Dreyfus. “We offer a glimpse into the mysteries of the inner journey by sharing the private insights and rituals of the extraordinary people featured in On Meditation. Our aim is to make meditation both more accessible and less simplistic."

When Dreyfus first approached her producer, Susannah Ludwig, with the idea for the film, her response was, “You want to shoot people sitting around with their eyes closed doing nothing?” They both came to realize, however, that meditators are communing with the mystery of life and attempting to make peace with it. “There is a kind of beautiful tension in that,” Dreyfus says. The goal of On Meditation to make meditation more mainstream by showcasing accomplished people receiving tremendous benefits from their consistent spiritual practice.

“Meditation has helped me re-map my brain and know my highest self,” says Elena Brower. Brower was so impressed with the project that she became an Executive Producer. “We wanted to bring people into a world they normally wouldn’t have access to,” says Dreyfus. “All our meditators share in common the need to find something in their lives that will offer them a richer connection to themselves, and a way to transcend the daily trials that can trip us all up. Meditation has a powerful impact on those who practice but also on the world around them. We believe if more people meditated the world would be a better place.”

Kickstarter funds will be used to complete post-production on the first five portraits, and then be channeled toward five more segments. Following this, portraits will be filmed featuring the likes of famed Hollywood Director David Lynch and bestselling author Gabrielle Bernstein, among other public figures. The On Meditation project will only be funded if $50,000 is pledged by Friday Apr 19, 12:00pm EDT. Click here to become part of this amazing project.

The Oaks at Ojai Spa's Legendary Sheila Cluff Releases Autobiography

Cluff hopes to inspire others with pioneering spirit, spunk and will-do attitude!

Sheila Cluff, fitness expert and founder of Southern California's iconic The Oaks at Ojai health and fitness destination spa, comes forth with her life story in “Living Your Dream.”

Cluff’s life and career have been marked by boundless creativity, passion and perseverance, and throughout the book she candidly relates her experiences of triumph and tragedy.“Whether readers are nine or 90, my hope is that this autobiography will enable them to channel the universal language of dreams, sacrifice and family,” promises Cluff, 76.

In the ’50s, long before the fitness industry came up with the term “aerobics,” she drew from her choreography as a professional ice skater to create cardiovascular dance, adding a spark of fun to exercise. In the ’70s when those seeking to lose weight on vacation had little choice but to trudge off to daunting weight-loss retreats, she developed a contemporary spa that combined luxurious European body treatments with exciting exercise and healthy, delicious food. Thus was born The Oaks at Ojai, which became renowned by many as one of the best destination spas in the country. In running her wellness facility, Cluff rejected the idea of subjecting guests to torturous deprivation. “I wanted neither a fat farm nor a beauty spa,” she writes, “but a place that focused on health and fitness, where people would come to enjoy themselves and not be ‘punished’ with exercise and diet food.”

Throughout the course of her career the tireless entrepreneur launched a second spa, The Palms in Palm Springs (which she later sold in 2004), hosted wellness TV programs on the NBC network and on KABC in Los Angeles, founded the Healthy Holidays travel company and conducted numerous speaking engagements. She also is one of the founding members of C200 (The Committee of 200), an organization of women entrepreneurs and high-level corporate executives, and was instrumental in creating the International Spa Association (ISPA), of which she was one of the first board members.

The autobiography is available for purchase on the The Oak's online store and Amazon.

[Image courtesy of Relevance PR]

Spa News: CPNA Spa Sessions

The spa market continues to experience sluggish growth, but with more than 19,000 spas in the U.S., there is potential for various companies to build the presence of this important segment. In an effort to address such opportunities, Cosmoprof North America (CPNA) is proud to present the Spa Sector – How to Build Synergies & Grow Spa Distribution session as part of this year’s educational panel lineup. Spa and skin care experts will discuss ways they have successfully helped one another and other small companies grow to achieve more relevant status. The panelists will represent a large spa chain, the leading distributor to spas, and one of the leading spa and salon product brands.

The Spa Sector – How to Build Synergies & Grow Spa Distribution session will be held on Monday, July 15th from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m, and moderated by Ada Polla, president and CEO of Alchimie Forever. Polla will be joined by Ryan Crabbe, Senior Director of Spa Operations and Development of Hilton Worldwide; Teddy Lester, Vice President of Sales of Universal Companies; and Tracey Sameyah, General Manager of Dermalogica.

Ryan Crabbe | Senior Director of Spa Operations and Development | Hilton Worldwide – Ryan has been an active leader in the luxury hospitality and spa industry since he attended college at the University of Virginia, in 1997. Prior to joining Hilton in September 2009, he founded the consulting firm Interim Spa Solutions to offer transitional management services to luxury hotels. He has also opened and directed numerous spas for both Wynn Resorts and The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. He currently launches and oversees the performance of spas for Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, Hilton Grand Vacations and Embassy Suites brands in the Americas.

Teddy Lester | Vice President of Sales | Universal Companies – After earning degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography from Emory and Henry College in Virginia, Lester worked for six years as a pharmaceutical sales specialist and trainer. In 2006, he joined Universal Companies as an outside sales representative for the School Partnership Program. As the current VP of Sales, Lester focuses on building long lasting relationships with clients and is dedicated to helping his sales team provide excellent sales and customer service. He is also committed to working with Universal Companies’ education team to develop a best in class educational outreach program for customers.

Tracey Sameyah | General Manager | Dermalogica – After earning her cosmetology license in the U.K. and U.S., Sameyah moved to Los Angeles in the early 1990s to specialize in professional skin care and its service and retail segments. Over the next twenty years, she held senior management positions with the prestigious YonKa and Murad skin care brands.In 2012, Sameyah joined the Dermalogica team with the goal of continuing to expand its brand.

Ada Polla | President, CEO | Alchimie Forever - In 2004, Ada Polla launched her family’s skincare line in the U.S. Today, the brand boasts global visibility and distribution while yielding double-digit annual growth. Polla is also involved in several ventures such as the Washington Spa Alliance and Fashion Group International, where she serves on the board as founding member and treasurer, respectively. In addition, she serves on the Editorial Board of GCI Magazine and on the Board of HBA. Polla holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and art history from Harvard University, and an MBA from Georgetown University.

The session is open to PBA and non-PBA members. PBA members can register for $30 prior to June 14, 2013 ($40 after this date), while non-members can register for $40, and, respectively, $50.

For more information visit

[Image courtesy of Y Public Relations]

Stylists Join Fight Against Melanoma via "Skinny on Skin" Training

Stylists can become valuable partners in the fight against melanoma with new "Skinny On Skin" training sessions.

The Melanoma Foundation of New England (MFNE) has developed an innovative program for salon professionals called The Skinny on Skin, which is set to launch this spring. This free educational program calls on medical training methods to teach beauty professionals how to spot suspicious moles on a client's scalp and neck while performing common salon and spa services. After all, as some of the only professionals to closely examine scalps on a regular basis, stylists should be equipped with the skills to spot potential melanoma long before anyone else. The medical professionals leading Skinny on Skin training sessions will also advise stylists on the best ways to speak with their clients after a suspicious mole has been identified.

Launch events (see below) will include The Skinny On Skin training, opportunities for professionals to use MFNE’s UV facial scanner to better detect lurking skin damage, and more. All attendees will receive a healthy skin goody bag with sponsor product samples. The training events will be lead by Dr. Robin L. Travers of SkinCare Physicians of Chestnut Hill, MA. Refreshments will be served at all events.

1. Monday, May 6th - 11:00-2:00 pm at the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing – 29 Lowell Street, Lewiston, ME
2. Tuesday, May 21 – 7:00-9:00 pm at Montage, Boston – 75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA
3. Monday, July 22nd – 6:30-8:30 p.m. (location TBD), Manchester, NH

To reserve your spot at any of these free launch events, email or call 800-557-6352. For more information about The Skinny On Skin visit

[Image courtesy of Kortenhaus Communications]

The International Dermal Institute Introduces New Oncology Educational Series with Sharon Bell

The International Dermal Institute Introduces New Oncology Educational Series wi

Advanced skincare instructor Sharon Bell is slated to present "Introduction to Oncology Skin Care" at The International Dermal Institute's latest guest speaker event series.

Dermalogica's The International Dermal Institute , a leading educational resource for licensed skin therapists, breaks new ground with a series of Guest Speaker Evenings that will address care for clients who have been diagnosed with cancer of any form.

The traveling “Introduction to Oncology Skin Care” seminar will be presented by IDI Advanced Instructor Sharon Bell. Before joining IDI and launching her own private skincare practice three years ago, Bell worked as a social worker and teacher for 19 years. Her family's experience with cancer led her to become certified in Oncology Esthetics through Touch for Cancer, and she currently treats cancer patients and teaches at The International Dermal Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The purpose of “Introduction to Oncology Skin Care” is to help spa therapists develop specialized skills for the particular needs of clients living with cancer. The presentation canvasses cancer's psychological and emotional impacts for both therapist and client, as well as the many technical contraindications and considerations that arise concerning surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and steroids.

For instance, chemotherapy typically thins and sensitizes the skin, which commonly results in darkened melanin. Radiation patients are at increased risk for developing shingles; this occurs when a dormant chicken pox virus is activated as the immune system becomes compromised.

Medical opinions vary as to which skincare product ingredients are safest in the aftermath of cancer. Further complicating the matter is the social exclusion many cancer patients experience, not to mention obvious signs of its treatment, such as hair loss.

However, “The genius of professional skin care is that the power of human touch is transcendent,” says Annet King, director of global education for IDI. “People with cancer often feel isolated, and their contact with the larger world may diminish. The mission of this new educational series is to enlighten and train professional skin therapists to treat the whole person, not simply the skin. In the context of a life-threatening disease, this level of engagement and connection with a skilled and compassionate skincare professional may be a profoundly healing pathway.”

The next “Introduction to Oncology Skin Care” Guest Speaker Evening event will take place on April 8 in Houston, Texas. For more information, visit

[Image courtesy of Dermalogica]

Spa News: Scholarship for Aspiring Spa Leader

Scholarship applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Mary Tabacchi Scholarship, valued at $5,000.

With the help of the International SPA Association (ISPA) Foundation and a wealth of donations, students interested in pursuing a spa management or spa leadership-related career will be able to achieve their dreams. Scholarship applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Mary Tabacchi Scholarship, now valued at 5,000 USD, having doubled since its inception in 2006.

ISPA President Lynne McNees said, “It is our hope that students touched by these scholarships will not only provide comfort and care to people who need it, but serve as inspirations for others to join the spa profession.”

The scholarship was created in 2006 and named in honor of Mary Tabacchi, Ph.D., RD, Associate Professor, Hospitality Facilities and Operations at Cornell University. Dr. Tabacchi is a beloved spa industry veteran and pioneer in spa education.

The ISPA Foundation's Mary Tabacchi Scholarship will be awarded to a junior, senior or grad student enrolled full-time in a bachelor's or master's program of a related discipline, i.e. business, health science, hospitality or spa management and is pursuing a spa management/spa leadership-related career. The recipient will receive 5,000 USD to offset their education expenses, a complimentary registration, travel stipend and hotel accommodations to attend the 2013 ISPA Conference & Expo, a one-year ISPA Student Membership valued at 130 USD and will be assigned a one-year mentor to help navigate their career aspirations.

Learn more about eligibility requirements and access the scholarship application HERE. The deadline to apply is April 30.

[Image: Thinkstock/iStockphto]