5 Questions with Gina Murdock, Founder of Aspen City of Wellbeing & Aspen Yoga Society
by Abby Stern
Tell us a little about your background and why you started Aspen City of Wellbeing?
I'm a yogi and the practice of yoga has changed my life. I met Dr. Deepak Chopra a few years ago and was part of a scientific experiment he did called Self Directed Biological Transformation Initiative. In this study, we proved the effectiveness of yoga, meditation, pranayama and “healthy lifestyle” - processing emotions, healthy relationships, food, fitness, etc. We proved what I already knew as a practitioner that we as individuals are responsible for our health and wellbeing more than anything else. There are some, very few, genetic factors that we cannot overcome, but about 90% of our health and quality of life is really up to us.
My own perception of what is possible was transformed by Deepak’s study; I wanted to do my part to inspire people to make healthier choices to reduce dis-ease & suffering. Selfishly, I also wanted to live in a town that values wellbeing, kindness, community, and a culture of service. Aspen City of Wellbeing is the vehicle I created to realize this vision. It’s been FUN, rewarding & an incredible growth opportunity for me & my team of awesome compatriots.
Aspen has been known as a party town for years and I don’t think that will change. My vision is that Aspen is also known as a global destination for wellbeing. I am excited to say, we are on our way. Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke, who I think of as the visionary founders of Aspen, coined “The Aspen Idea’ back in the 1940’s and believed Aspen was a place that the human spirit could flourish based on nourishing and connecting Mind, Body and Spirit. I believe Aspen City of Wellbeing is carrying on the legacy of The Aspen Idea; I am inspired and humbled by that & it motivates me each day to wake up & say ‘How can I make a positive difference today toward a healthier, happier world?”
Word on the street is that you have a team nickname. What is it and why?
I have a LOT of ideas and I also have an amazing team of visionaries working with me on Aspen City of Wellbeing and Aspen Yoga Society. I overheard one of my colleagues claiming she was a “Unicorn Wrangler” and therefore, I became known as a Unicorn. I think it’s because I believe in the impossible and am somewhat of a mythical figure even to myself: “Who is Gina Murdock really??” I also disappear a lot and show up with rainbows and smiles when I return. One of my favorite quotes is “Always be yourself; unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn.”
You coined the phrase, “Be Well. Do Good.” What does it mean to live by this philosophy?
I know from my own experience that I cannot "be the change" in the world in a positive way unless I take care of myself. How to “be well” in this life experience is going to be different for everyone. It is important to figure out what that means for each of us individually so we can then give and share and “Do Good” collectively.
One can’t give from an empty tank so I do what I can mentally and physically to fill myself up. I enjoy sharing what works for me with others so we can all have the energy and inspiration to give back and create a better society for all. Be Well. Do Good. It's simple & if I ever forget what I'm meant to do it's really easy to remember;-) One of my other life mottos is ‘Do what you love with people you love.” I use these mottos, slogans or affirmations to filter what I do with my time & energy & create healthy boundaries so I can actually be an effective change agent.
What does wellbeing mean to you?
I really connected with the five essential elements of wellbeing as described by The Gallup Wellbeing Index (1)
In my experience, if you have a high score in all of these areas you have a high level of overall wellbeing. If even one is low, it can throw off everything so balance is really important. I would add a spiritual component to this Index personally. For me, believing in something bigger than myself and being on an evolutionary journey of self-awareness is a big part of my wellbeing. I get really fired up about having a sense of purpose in life and that I am contributing to the greater good by my life energy. Meaningful and fulfilling relationships & the tools to communicate to keep them like that is also paramount to my wellbeing.
You were the visionary behind the Love Ninjas. Why did you want to create this initiative?
I always like to bring an element of FUN into everything I do and felt like our initiative was getting too serious with all of the measurements and meetings with bureaucrats. I think of it like a mullet (Classic 80’s hairstyle) business in the front (our measurements and programming to educate and improve wellbeing) party in the back. The “party” part is the Love Ninjas outreach program. We wear funky “uniforms” and have a mission to inspire a culture of kindness and service. We have weekly gatherings so we are also building community and giving people an entry point to get involved in ACW. When I first moved to Aspen I struggled to find a place I felt like I fit in. If Love Ninjas existed then I'm sure I would have jumped on it!
Our future plan is to create a training program and send these Ninjas out as ambassadors of our brands- City of Wellbeing, Mind, Body, Spirit Rx, MTN MKT & Lead with LOVE. The intention of our annual event Lead with Love is to inspire people to be the change in a positive way and to be loving and kind. We are bridge builders and active community members who truly believe in civic engagement and serving the greater good. We believe we are all one and this one world needs us all to show up in that awareness to thrive.
Check out Gina’s Social Media Pages to stay up to date on her Unicorn happenings.
The Gallup Wellbeing Index