Helen Lee Schifter: A Student of Zen Buddhism

Helen Lee Schifter has had a fascinating and versatile career. Schifter served as an arbitrage trader on Wall Street before transitioning to the field of journalism. She served as the editor of both Hearst and Conde Nast. On the educational front, she also had the unique opportunity of attending both Phillips Exeter Academy and Amherst College during their pioneering transitions to co-education.

Although she resides most of the year in New York City, Helen also maintains a residence on Long Island, where she escapes for what she describes as her “escape valve,” from the intensity and fast-paced nature of New York City, on many weekends. This affords her the opportunity to mentally recharge. But Schifter has a fascinating series of studies that she’s embarked on as well.

About a decade ago, she began studying and reading ancient Chinese and Japanese poetry, which led her to studying Zen Buddhism. It  was during her studies that she discovered Chado, the famed Japanese tea ceremony. The ceremony is considered the manifestation of the Buddhist philosophy. Chado is known to not be a ceremony that can be studied with impatience or at a rapid pace. Instead, it  needs to be internalized properly, and appreciated for its value and the meaning that is associated with it .

As Elle Decor has chronicled, Schifter also has unique talents when it  comes to interior design. Her collaboration with different designers on her residences have been legendary and images from inside those residences have been featured in numerous publications. She attributes her eye for design to her ability to escape the chaotic nature of the city, and the noise associated with it . For this, she defers to the value that Buddhism has had on her ability to meditate, think clearly and shut-out any extraneous noise that may exist.

Helen Lee Schifter is also a regular blogger about health and wellness topics, promoting the need for more Americans to take health and wellness issues seriously. According to Schifter, the obesity epidemic is illustrative of the attitude of neglect that unfortunately is all too common and persuasive among many members of society. In her written work she has commended former first lady Michelle Obama and other prominent and well regarded individuals who have used their platforms to highlight the obesity epidemic and invested effort into seeking to combat it .

Indeed, her blogs can be found on Thrive Global and a number of other well-read and respected blogging platforms. According to Schifter, while professional and career development are indeed virtuous goals thats importance should not be belittled, it  is also important to not lose sight of the fact that it’s important to not lose sight of having a proper order of priorities in place.

According to Helen, this is where there seems to be a pervasive issue that plagues too many members of society, especially those in corporate environments and in the workforce. Namely, the emphasis on monetary gain and professional development at the expense of one’s health and wellness. Instead, Schifter has consistently advocated for a movement of education on the part of academic institutions, with the aid of the federal government, to educate people from a young age of the need to incorporate health and wellness practices into their lifestyles.

That can take the form of fitness regimens that are consistent and regular. It  can also take the form of proper and healthy dietary habits. One of the misperceptions that have taken root over time, is the idea that maintaining a healthy diet has to require compromising on the quality of foods one consumes. Of course, this is nonsensical. There are so many organic and healthy options across all types of different cuisines that one can choose from. So let’s take advantage of the opportunities that exist to lead healthy lifestyles imbued with proper values.


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Pamela is a television journalist, humor writer and novelist. Her first novel, Allegedly, was released in 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. The book is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She and her husband, Daniel, have a 3-year-old son, Carter.

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