Waylon Lewis, a second generation American Buddhist and a passionate environmentalist, is the founder of elephantjournal.com and the host of “Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis.” In addition to being committed to promoting sustainability and spirituality through his popular website, Waylon extols the virtues of inspired action towards health and wellness through his work. TourDeFIT.com sat down with Lewis to discuss his life journey, his take on enlightened society and true health and wellness and how to get there.
TourDeFIT: What is the history of The Elephant Journal? How did it come to be?
Waylon Lewis: It’s a long history, relatively speaking, at this point. We just turned 10. In independent media dog years, that makes us pretty old—many amazing (and otherwise) publications come and go. It’s been a rough, tough but exciting period for print and new media, of course. In many ways it’s wonderful, and in many ways independent media and journalism are rapidly becoming endangered species.
Our first six years, we were a print magazine—available in Whole Foods, book stores and yoga studios across America. As we got bigger, it became harder to walk our talk environmentally-speaking—few of you (I didn’t) probably know that the average sell-through rate of magazines nationally is 3 out of 10. So, even though we were printing on the best eco paper, Made in the USA, unlike literally 99 percent of our peers, as we got bigger our sell-through rate would have dropped. So: eventually I jumped online. It was either “Jump online now and lose everything—my office, staff, house, my business, business value” or “sell out” or “continue to grow and make money as a print publication but sell out on my environmentalism and integrity.” Three tough choices.
So, not wanting to sell out, and we had two semi-serious offers, I jumped online, gave up everything I’d accomplished, and spent the last four years staring at a laptop screen 16 hours a day, seven days a week. I’m 38 and have never traveled or taken time off and certainly haven’t been able to start a family. I’ve been a day-old-muffin-eating entrepreneur, now, twice in 10 years on the same business. I don’t believe in selling out, generally. I believe in doing what I love and what I’m good at, hopefully, and what is of some service to a wonderful world that, in many ways, is totally effed. And not enough of us are doing anything about it.
Over the next 10 years, now that we’re stable and big and have won some awards, we’ll focus on the talk show, on making money and inspiring the business community to make tough choices and do the right thing, on employing tons of great, inspiring, inspired people, and on becoming a media reference point for sanity, humor and compassion, and activism, and genuine spirituality.
TDF: What does enlightened society mean to you?
WL: Basically, harmony. Responsibility. Every problem in the world is due to ignorance. To aggression, and to greed. We can begin to realize that happiness doesn’t come from anything other than mindfulness—than fully resting in and acting from the present moment—we can all begin to treat ourselves, and our environment upon which we depend for food and clean air (in Colorado, this summer, the forest fires have put so much smoke in the air, every day, we’re advised not to go outside) and water…if we can begin to source our joy from the simple things—bbqs, family, community—instead of consumerism and mindless entertainment—I mean, we’ve heard it all before, but right now human society is, while wonderful in many ways, sick.
So it’s great to talk with all of you, who are so passionate about true health..!
TDF: What, in your opinion, is the biggest crisis in health and wellness?
WL: It would be easy to say gmos, or fast food, or obesity or diabetes or lack of exercise…but I think more fundamentally…