Lessons Learned From 2021 Salons

After going nearly 18 months without hosting, easily the longest amount of time The Salon Host’s founder Susan MacTavish Best has had to suspend gathering the POSTHOC salon community in two decades, it became impossible for attendees to take even a moment for granted.

We soaked up many lessons from the fascinating conversations that have become synonymous with the POSTHOC name, but five stood out as overarching themes we want to share here…

1. Our communities have infinitely more to teach us than the internet.

Even with the world at our fingertips, nothing compares to learning from the personal experiences of others. Although we knew this already in theory, the return of salons in 2021 illuminated just how much we enrich one another’s lives by talking face to face. Every lesson that follows comes from our community members and special guest speakers, and no matter how well-informed I believe myself to be by staying in the digital-know, that’s nothing compared to the lifehacks gleaned from conversing with curious people.

2. Our gut knows the truth.

At the first POSTHOC salon back in 2021, special guest David Good, founder of The Good Project, told Susan his unbelievable life story and how it lead him to study the gut biome. David’s mother was born in an extremely isolated Amazonian tribe called the Yanomami – ultimately he became a biologist specializing in the gut microbiome and grew curious about the differences between the American and Yanomami biomes. So he set out to find her in his early 20s, succeeded, and came to learn just how much impact our gut health has on our overall health because it interacts with every single organ and system in our bodies.

Gut instinct, says David, is a very real phenomenon, but here’s the problem: “We live in a world where our biological systems are inherently imbalanced, especially in regards to the microbiome. When I look at the Yanomami and their health, they don’t have chronic illnesses. They don’t have these mental afflictions that we do here.”  David’s words hit home, so at the suggestion of a fellow POSTHOC guest, I immediately did the best thing I’ve done in 2021 – get a gut biome test kit analysis to create a custom diet + supplement plan via Viome.

3. Our emotional health and heart health are deeply, unavoidably connected.

Cardiologist and best-selling author Dr. Sandeep Jauhar of Long Island’s Jewish Medical Center was the special guest speaker in LA for POSTHOC’s Matters of the Heart salon, and took the opportunity to educate us on how and why his research has led him to a single conclusion: that the physical health of our heart is inextricably tied to our emotional well-being. There is now sufficient data to prove that our hearts can change shape and develop all kinds of devastating conditions in response to grief, stress and isolation. There is also sufficient data to show that interpersonal connection is the antidote – we need each other.

Read more about this topic in our article about Why Salon-ing Is Essential For Our Good Health.

4. Our happiness comes from connection.

Beyond maintaining a healthy baseline for our cardiovascular and emotional systems, most of us also want to be happy. As part of Templeton World Charity Foundation‘s initiative to support research about human flourishing, POSTHOC hosted a salon about the science of happiness. Whether it’s connecting with a person, community, animal, a piece of art, or even just an idea, according to our special guest and author Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky of UC Riverside’s psych department, if the connection leads to a sense of personal growth or contribution to society, it’s likely to make us happy!

5. Our rituals are what anchor us, particularly in difficult times.

Here at The Salon Host, we believe that bringing curious folks together for a multisensory rave for the intellect is a sacred ritual. Many would argue that Susan’s pork belly is a religious experience in and of itself, but anything done consistently with reverence that makes us feel part of the world is a ritual.

As part of a conversation with Templeton World Charity Foundation’s President Andrew Serazin and Casper ter Kuile of Sacred Design Lab, Susan asked how ritual could be best incorporated into our day-to-day life. “Layering something meaningful on top of a routine or habit you already have is a much more successful way of integrating ritual,” Casper says, which is exactly what turning a regular dinner party into a salon for the curious is all about!

It’s all a matter of intentionality… and in 2022 we intend to have many more salons we already know will support quantum-leap-level upgrades in how we think about and live our everyday lives.

Thanks for riding with us this year, and if you didn’t get a chance to host a salon in 2021, there’s always 2022! And here’s a complete guide on how to.