Beliefnet
Originally published in Newsweek, reprinted with permission.

It's a Lohasian moment. The term for these 21st-century New Agers derives from an acronym created by marketers on the West Coast—LOHAS, as in Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. The movie "The Celestine Prophecy" is opening, based on the 1993 book that may be the most popular alternative-spirituality book of the last few decades. Next comes the film version of Dan Millman's book "Way of the Peaceful Warrior," about a lost young gymnast who is guided through a mystical transformation by a wise mentor. And Al Gore's movie on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," is bound to be popular with the ecologically minded Lohasians.

LOHAS consumers (or Lohasians, as they're called at Beliefnet), represent 17 percent of the U.S. population, according to a report released by the Natural Marketing Institute at a LOHAS conference last month in Santa Monica, Calif. The study said Lohasians are "dedicated to personal and planetary health." Seventy-three percent bought recycled paper goods, and 71 percent bought natural or organic "personal care" products. They pay more to get foods without pesticides and want their cars fuel-efficient.

Among the products and services offered at the conference this year were detoxifying pine oil, organic body lotion, ecofriendly spas, and recycled-cashmere sweaters. A decade ago, one attendee said, the conference vendor room offered only "broccoli and tomatoes." Lohasians shop just as widely for spiritual practices. From Buddhism: meditation and admiration of "nothingness." From Hinduism: yoga, gurus, color and chanting. From paganism: an emphasis on honoring nature. From Asian cultures: feng shui and acupuncture. Lohasians devour heaping doses of Western psychotherapy, plus the ideas of the recovery movement ("one day at a time"). They identify as "spiritual, not religious," and many believe in "synchronicity" or "meaningful coincidences" that might be guided by a spirit world.

Does this sound like someone you know? If you have a yoga mat and "singing bowls," if you chant or do polarity therapy or energy healing, if you consume goji berries or biodynamic organic wines, you just might be a Lohasian.

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus