Anna Lundgaard + Kara Erickson, Co-Founders Of WITMA
The wellness world can feel somewhat contrived these days, but women like Kara Erickson and Anna Lundgaard are striving to bring it back to its roots. These two women have a calling for crafting events that invite creatives, mystics, and people striving for authentic, higher consciousness. They experienced great success with this format earlier this fall with their live pop-up conversation series entitled Well-being in the Modern Age. By curating conversations with comedians, CEOS, shamans, performance artists, and business founders (our very own Danielle + Whitney were panelists), they're continuing to explore new ways to invigorate the wellness community by offering up "practical methods for living a healthy and connected life."
Sitting down with these two dreamers, manifestors, and creators we enjoyed learning their takes on the importance of self-care, legacy and where this all-too-buzzy "wellness" movement is taking us.
Could you both share your journeys of how you found yourselves in the wellness movement, and what you're working on right now that you're excited about?
Wellness has definitely always been a big part of my life. I am a proud Dane (born and raised in the countryside of Denmark) and I was raised to honor the seasons and take out of it what is accessible at certain times of year. Growing up, wellness wasn’t about fitness, it was about eating only seasonally sourced vegetables and visiting farms to see the animals being treated well. Wellness was also knowing that "there is no such thing as bad weather, only wrong attire” (a famous Danish saying) and understanding that during the long bright summers we spend as much time outside as possible, and the long dark and cold winters we stay inside to light candles and get cosy. My mom has always been an incredible teacher and thanks to her my family was eating organic and biodynamic before that was even really a thing in Denmark.
I have always been focused on inner growth, written journals, enjoyed alone time, meditated and been ready to have long dialogs with friends as well as strangers about the meaning of life or other large topics. When I moved to NYC in 2010 things started to collide and I realized that I was gifted with an ability to find people with amazing talents within the world of creative industries, health/wellness and mindful living and able to curate and create a platform for them to blossom. There are a lot of amazing projects in the making right now and aside from WITMA (Well-being In The Modern Age), I am also curating a monthly consciousness program at NeueHouse LA, creating a sustainable activewear line called Sage Larock X Anna Lundgaard (which will be coming out early next year), and my exclusive event series called Seven Elements where the 5-senses, incredible spaces and experiences merge together.
I grew up playing sports and learned about nutrition through doing so. My family was always active, so wellness has been a foundational piece of my life. I experimented with my workout regimen, my diet, and throughout the years added different modalities of self-care into the mix. Whether I was aware of it or not, I’ve always been fascinated by tricks to maintain balance and optimal functioning. Finally, I realized I didn’t have to keep these innate passions separate from my professional life and through some synchronistic circumstances was finally able to transition (aka manifest) my career into the wellness world. We just wrapped up our first Well-Being in the Modern Age event, which was held at Neuehouse in NYC. It is a conversational event series featuring leading voices from across the wellness, creative, and media worlds in order to provide a space for discussions centered around creating a greater awareness of our internal and external worlds. We get to feature amazing individuals, host like-minded vendors, offer healthy food and beverage options, and sit in meditation to live music with a large group of other individuals who are working hard every day to transform themselves in an authentic way. We are bringing the next event to LA in Spring 2018 and I can’t wait to be a part in bringing it to life! I’m also launching my own personal business right now and it’s been an incredible ride already.
What inspired you to create the Well Being in the Modern Age? What is it about self-engineering, bio-hacking, community + creativity that's exciting to you right now?
I would say the foundation of WITMA came out of a panel discussion event that our business partner and co-founder, Noah Lampert, had co-curated in Los Angeles called Mind/Wave. He then teamed with Sah D’ Simone who brought Kara onboard and then myself about a month later. Together we started shaping the event and putting our personal touch on it.
When I was introduced to WITMA I instantly knew that I had to make space for a project of this size. I felt if I could contribute, in any way, to creating a platform for people to discuss practical methods for living a more healthy, conscious, and balanced life, that was just more of a calling than a choice. I knew I was about to go on one of the most important and transformational journeys of my life, and most importantly, bring people with me. I strongly believe that we, now more than ever, need to come together to educate and be friendly with each other. We must remind each other to honor this planet and listen up (!) when mother nature is telling us she’s mad. If we don’t know how, we need need to stop being afraid to ask for help from a sister or brother and if we do have some answers we need to share them.
Our co-founder, Sah D’Simone brought me onto this project in April 2017 when the idea was merely an iPhone note between him and Noah Lampert. I had produced a Conscious Family Dinner event, a monthly spiritual house party, with Sah in March and he showed a lot of faith in me and my abilities by bringing me onto the team. I think he saw that I lived, breathed, and dreamed this stuff and we began constructing the vision with big goals and dreams in mind right off the bat. I was so honored to work with such established individuals who trusted me in bringing this unique creation to life. Our main goal was to not be afraid to delve deep in terms of what we spoke about and to make sure to bring together a diverse group of panelists in order to reach as vast of an audience as possible. I was inspired to create this experience for all of these incredible people to be in one room and make it as impactful and magical as possible, without making it cliché or indigestible for people who may not normally be comfortable in this world or by having these conversations. We want to make these types of challenging discussions the norm, and talking more and more about self-engineering and bio-hacking and what the heck it really means: what it actually does to your body, how it helps you in your transformational journey, and discovering what works and doesn’t work for you on an individual level; is the effect we want these events to have. It’s exciting to get to tap into these conversations through the lenses of comedy or creativity.
Where do you see the wellness movement going in the next 5 years?
I think that is a very tough question to answer. I hope that the combination of awareness and curiosity will keep growing. That we will continue to factor the planet into our wellness equation, grow our curiosity and facilitate the tools accessible to us in these modern times that ultimately can optimize our well-being. I hope that we will keep growing closer together as a community and honor each other's differences.
I see the wellness movement getting more comfortable delving deeper into the more woo-woo territories. Even today, tarot, astrology, crystals, moon circles, and sound healing are all becoming normal and a typical thing to do for personal healing and growth or as a social activity with friends. I think people will see more and more that true wellness comes from a holistic place of mind, body, and soul alignment. Treating your body medically and mindfully with a holistic principle in mind will change the every day decisions people make when healing themselves. I also foresee more CBD and cannabis-infused products becoming more mainstream and widely accepted in the wellness world and beyond. Shout out to my friends at Apothecanna!
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
Right now I am doing a lot of research on sustainability and finding methods on living a more sustainable life, due to the sustainable activewear line I have coming out with my business partner. Right now I am looking at fabrics made out of fishing net and re-used plastic bottles. I am learning so much every day about what materials are biodegradable, what sustainable really means, and how you can make a difference. I find that so incredibly exciting! On a different note, I am also learning more about honoring the masculine and the feminine in all of us and listening to a lot of talks by teachers focusing on this exact matter. It’s super empowering and inspiring. John Wineland is particularly interesting to listen to as he speaks about relationship as a spiritual method.
My entire community of friends I just said "goodbye for now” to in New York City have inspired me and guided me from the very beginning. Shauny Lamba and Corinne Wainer, the co-founders of Shaktibarre, supported me at my very first Conscious Family Dinner in December 2016 and they have been crushing it from day one with their beautiful work and studio in Williamsburg. Agapi Stassinopoulos, who wrote the incredible book, Wake Up to the Joy of You, amongst others, has been there with wise, kind words and the most loving hugs. My whole Conscious Family Dinner team in NYC all have their own businesses and goals that serve others with their unique talents and yet they always showed up to help me. My co-founders at WITMA, Sah D’Simone, Noah Lampert, and Anna Lundgaard are all the most wonderful human beings and it has been the most immense pleasure working with them on such a high vision project. I am in awe and inspired by each of them and their profoundly authentic voices daily. I could go on and on really, I am blessed to be surrounded by many amazing people in my life...
What are your beauty rituals for morning and evening right now?
I wake up in the morning and splash cold water on my face. I then use a Rose Petals Rosewater (I buy at Whole Foods), followed by Age Repair Serum from Grown Alchemist and then I top it with a fine layer of Iris Hydrating Facial Lotion from Weleda.
I try to do my workouts in the morning also and love switching them up. I've been going to ModelFIT a lot which offers an amazing workout for long lean muscle toning. I am a certified pilates instructor and enjoy trying out different pilates studios. Wanderlust in Hollywood is a great place to check out. My friend Moun D' Simone teaches amazing classes in Echo park at Yogala.
I find time to meditate at some point during the day. Whether it’s right when I wake up, in the middle of the day or in the afternoon, it's important for me to take time to go inwards and check in with myself.
Evening beauty routine is a bit different from my ordinary one as I have had a few weeks of stress breakouts on my chest and forehead, so right now I use the amazing Enliven Kombucha Tonic Pads from the small brand Narayan with 100 percent active ingredients to clean my face (normally i use a mild clay soap), after that I add my rosewater spray and either the “True divine nature” hydrator from Narayan or a Hydra-Repair Cream-Masque from Grown Alchemist if I need a lot of hydration for the night.
In the morning, I get emails from Waking Up with Ryan which has a blurb by Ryan Weiss on the topic of mindfulness, a morning practice from A Course in Miracles, and a reminder to list 5 things you are grateful for each day. I take a moment to do these practices before getting up. Then, I like to oil pulling (with coconut oil) and dry brush before jumping into the shower. Ideally, part of it is a cold shower like the good kundalini yogi I am. Then, I make a bulletproof coffee with Moon Juice’s Sex Dust or Sun Potion herbs mixed in. This ritual gets me off to a great start.
In the evening, I will usually do a quick homemade face mask - with Manuka honey, whichever natural moisturizing product I am currently using, and olive oil - and keep it on while jumping in an epsom salt bath with essential oils (sandalwood and lavender are my favorite). I like to light candles and use low light or himalayan sea salt lamps exclusively to wind down and try my best to stay off my phone/email as much as possible. I do like to play lucid dreaming binaural beats and have been experimenting with lucid dreaming teas before bed. Sleep is precious!!!
The world is in a fragile state and self-care if more valuable than ever-- how are you both taking time for self-care/ what are you most treasured self-care rituals?
For me self-care is definitely all about making space. Whether it’s by moving for an hour and making space in my body for more nutrients, air, love, or whether it’s writing down all my distracting thoughts so I have space in my head to presently listen to a podcast, have a beautiful conversation with my life-partner Zane or even just simple things like finding appreciation for the food I’m preparing for dinner.
Writing is definitely my number one go to when it comes to self-care. I get such clarity from writing down my goals, where I'm at in life, where I want to go and/or how I'm feeling at that exact moment. After that I have so much more freedom and energy to be present and be at service.
Amen to that. Self-care is for some reason one of the first things we give up when things go a little crazy, but it’s the most important thing that we need during those times and ALL the time! I’m very passionate about self-care because it really is what helped me cultivate an authentic self-love and respect for myself on a whole other level than I’ve ever felt. I make sure to stand up and say no and set boundaries when I’m feeling the need for self-care and alone time. I will spend money and treat myself to acupuncture or a non-toxic mani/pedi, when before I thought it was a waste of money. Now I see it as an investment for myself to be my best and feel my best because that boost of confidence helps me step up my game at work and in my relationships and then it quickly manifests into all areas. And this can happen in reverse if you don’t listen to your intuition and honor that little voice trying to guide you to take care of yourself.
What is something that all of us could do more of to get in touch with our well-being and highest self?
I think listening more would be a great start. First of all in the most literal sense, it’s not enough to listen to ourselves talk, we need to listen to each other more and learn from people we disagree with. I am not saying we have to agree with someone with different political believes than us, but I'm saying we can try hearing them out and try to understand where we are all coming from. We cannot expect people listen to us, if we are not willing to listen to them. Stop judging and labeling each other.
In the more symbolic way I mean listen to our bodies. We can learn a lot from children, they cry when they are sad, they eat when they are hungry and sleep when they are tired. We have trained ourselves to stay up even though we are tired, pretend to be happy when really we are sad. We need to listen and honor the needs of our bodies and obey as much as possible. Find tools that works for us and honor that we are all different, what may work for me may not work for my closest friend.
-and I am absolutely saying this, reminding myself ;).
Definitely it would be to LISTEN more to that highest self and trust it. The more you are aware of those instincts in yourself, it saves you from taking opportunities that may not be right for you and for not letting fear or the judgement of others control the decisions you make in your life. It opens up a huge potential to manifest EXACTLY what you want your life to look like once you tap into this power of self-inquiry and transformation. But you have to have courage and be willing to be open in greater ways than ever before. It’s a true commitment and a daily learning experience that basically never ends.
What do you want your legacy to be?
Another tough question.. I am the strongest believer that we all have a gift within us to make our wildest dreams come true and live the most high-visioned life. I can push people to find the tools that work for them, but I won’t ever take credit for it.
I don't want to give the man a fish nor can I teach him how to fish. I want to show him where the fishing rod is and send him off with love and support on his journey to learn how to feed himself for a lifetime. And I will be right next to him doing the same.
I want to teach people how to truly be in love with their lives, in love with themselves, and in turn, in love with those around them from the deepest, most authentic place ever. Everyone can do it and I want to help them find out how or be inspired to find it themselves in whatever way I can. That is well-being in the modern age and each of the journeys we are on.