Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

PALM LATITUDES

STATE OF MIND : Zen and the Art of Executive Maintenance

April 25, 1993|Michelle Seipp

Hollywood executives may work hard and play hard, but now they're meditating hard, too. After closing that last deal and forcing just one more peon to grovel, many studio-types are flocking to Eastern-style spiritual retreats, where they meditate, chant, eat meatless patties and rub elbows with a guru.

"In our work, things can be so morally bankrupt that finding some sense of spirituality is a great oasis," explains one senior studio exec (still concerned enough with the world of power and flesh to withhold his name). "It's a great way to recharge your batteries for the work that we do," says the executive, who spent New Year's Eve at a New York ashram.

In Calabasas, a retreat called The Ashram draws a spectrum of the hip and spiritually restless, including film producer Don Simpson and William Morris agent Fred Westheimer, who cleanse their spirits by meditating, practicing yoga and performing "selfless service"--such as cleaning up after fellow Ashram denizens. "We have a strenuous program," says owner Anne-Marie Bennstrom. "We replace Hollywood stress with another form of activity and it requires that you are here totally"--and that you pay $2,100 a week. Once inside, seekers must do without faxes, cellular phones and electronic datebooks, and if they don't get into vegetarian fare, they go hungry.

But The Ashram still reflects the outside world--or, at least, the world of Hollywood: For one thing, there's a three-month waiting list (Bennstrom only takes 11 people at a time). And, as another movie maven notes: "If you know somebody there, you get a better room, or a better seat at the workshops."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|