Healthy To A Hundred: Ken Ceder of Science of Light On 5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente

Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

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I don’t really consider myself as an authority on longevity, however I do preach “enlightened’ health and wellness because light regulates brain chemistry, circadian rhythms, metabolism and other biological functions, I more see myself as a knowledgeable advocate of light for health to reduce the risk of disease. I’ve been passionate about and a student of biologically beneficial light for over 30 years. I’m most pleased that I’ve been a persistent voice for the silent epidemic of mal-illumination. Mal-illumination is a term coined by photobiology pioneer, Dr. John Ott to describe a condition that’s akin to malnutrition. Or as stated by Dr. Ott, “Mal-illumination is to light as malnutrition is to food.”

The term Blue Zones has been used to describe places where people live long and healthy lives. What exactly does it take to live a long and healthy life? What is the science and the secret behind longevity and life extension? In this series, we are talking to medical experts, wellness experts, and longevity experts to share “5 Things You Need To Live A Long, Healthy, & Happy Life”. As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Ken Ceder.

Ken Ceder is currently the Executive Director of Science of Light, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that’s focused on raising awareness of the essential need for “natural light” for health and reduced risk of disease. Ken was formally the founder and president of Ott Light Systems (OLS), Santa Barbara California. OLS helped pioneer the concept of “health” lighting and “SAD” light therapy to reduce the risk of seasonal depression thirty five years ago.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I was a good student until I got my driver’s license… LOL. Made it into Boston University School of Business Administration but had more interest in my dad’s automotive shop than BU. In other words, I dropped out before I flunked out! Stayed in the automotive business, made a pocket full of cash and took my first retirement before thirty. Moved to Las Vegas and ultimately went broke after indulging a bit too much in youthful ignorance and the pursuit of pleasure. Fortunately, good karma gave me a reprieve when I stumbled into meditation for mindful awareness. Then later on, as an interim co-director of Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston where my quest for health and wellness began.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

Actually, the takeaway lessons are not exactly specific to this highlight career story as much as an accumulation and reflection of the whole. I was just starting a new company in 1987 that was promoting the benefits of sunlight and “full-spectrum” environmental light for health; simultaneously big pharma was just beginning to “scare the daylight out of people” with their false claims that the sun was the enemy of health. It was much more than an uphill battle to compete with the deep pockets and PR messaging of the pharmaceutical industry. An industry that was promoting the need for sun protection with products loaded with chemicals that were often more harmful than the protection they claimed.

All said, my passion for light and health kept me in the game. Fortunately, there were enough believers and customers that kept the company moving forward and ultimately contributed to my maturing lessons to follow my passion and cultivate patience. My passion for light, both “inner and outer” is holding firm, however the patience lessons continue to challenge me… lol.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

With respect primarily to business success, the late Harry Kislevitz stands out for two reasons. First, Harry taught me, “follow the heart-line and the money-line will follow.” That message for me has since been reduced to, “follow your heart.”

Harry was the founder and president of Colorforms toy company. Colorforms was such a creative and successful toy in it’s day that the Museum of Modern Art selected it to be part of the MoMa permanent collection.

As for the second stand out reason, Harry introduced me to Dr. John Ott, the father of full-spectrum light technology. Dr. Ott was also a “time-lapse” photography pioneer and innovator that caught the attention of Walt Disney. While working as a consultant for the Walt Disney “Secrets of Life” film series, Dr. Ott discovered that he could not successfully grow plants indoors under commonly used artificial lighting. His research found that all living organisms need the full-spectrum of light provided by the sun in order to thrive. Dr. Ott’s research led to the development of full-spectrum light technology and Harry’s introduction and support led to a license agreement for me and the beginning of Ott Light Systems in Santa Barbara, California..

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

With hindsight; passion, patience and persistence were most instrumental in my business success. However, the nurturing of “heart” set the foundation. I’ve already mentioned examples of sorts regarding my 3P cornerstones. When I speak of heart, I’m referring to the awakening that came through meditation and spiritual pursuits.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview about health and longevity. To begin, can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fields of health, wellness, and longevity? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I don’t really consider myself as an authority on longevity, however I do preach “enlightened’ health and wellness because light regulates brain chemistry, circadian rhythms, metabolism and other biological functions, I more see myself as a knowledgeable advocate of light for health to reduce the risk of disease. I’ve been passionate about and a student of biologically beneficial light for over 30 years. I’m most pleased that I’ve been a persistent voice for the silent epidemic of mal-illumination. Mal-illumination is a term coined by photobiology pioneer, Dr. John Ott to describe a condition that’s akin to malnutrition. Or as stated by Dr. Ott, “Mal-illumination is to light as malnutrition is to food.”

Like malnutrition, mal-illumination causes deficiencies by depriving us of the sun’s vital “energetic nutrient” wavelengths. Mal-illumination is brought about by limiting our daily intake of full-spectrum daylight and supplementing it with too much artificial, limited-spectrum indoor light. Especially blue light at night, and by shielding ourselves from the sun with such things as tinted windows, windshields, sunglasses and suntan lotions. Mal-illumination unwittingly contributes to many adverse health issues and some are quite serious; obesity, depression, fatigue, sleep & eating disorders as well as breast, prostate, and colon cancer.

Seekers throughout history have traveled great distances and embarked on mythical quests in search of the “elixir of life,” a mythical potion said to cure all diseases and give eternal youth. Has your search for health, vitality, and longevity taken you on any interesting paths or journeys? We’d love to hear the story.

Interestingly, without consciously searching, I had the good fortune or karma to have a few spontaneous mystical experiences that were life changing and truly indicative of “the elixir of life.” They were not specific to health, vitality or longevity, however they were curiously about light and consciousness. Light was the common denominator, like a two-sided coin. The experiences expanded my awareness of “inner light” and unwittingly created a balance for my health focus and passion for physical “outer light.”

Based on your research or experience, can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Live A Long & Healthy Life”? (Please share a story or an example for each)

Not in any particular order…

- Mindfulness: essential to manage the chatter of mind and to connect with our source.

- Sunlight: central to our universe. Natural light is essential for body-mind wellness.

- Clean water and fresh air: pretty obvious to most people.

- Balanced nutrition: lots of green foods and preferably organic when possible.

- Exercise: movement in general, especially walking.

Can you suggest a few things needed to live a life filled with happiness, joy, and meaning?

Also not in any particular order…

- Friendships/brotherhood

- Gratitude/kindness

- Selfless service/thinking of others

- Mindfulness/self awareness practice

- Love

Some argue that longevity is genetic, while others say that living a long life is simply a choice. What are your thoughts on this nature vs. nurture debate? Which is more important?

I think that both contribute to some degree with choice likely more important. However, beyond genetics and choice, I place karma first and foremost because of insightful conviction that the law of karma from “life to life” functions much the same as the physical law of cause and affect. Thus what seems like free will has it’s root in destiny. Think of a train engine with cars attached traveling along the tracks. You can move about within the car and consider it to be your free will to do so. However, the train is on a track that leads to a specific station… that’s destiny! I take karma to be the law of life.

Life sometimes takes us on paths that are challenging. How have you managed to bounce back from setbacks in order to cultivate physical, mental, and emotional health?

Not sure how I handled life’s challenges in my youthful ignorance. I guess I just struggled through and time was unwittingly the secret sauce. However, after becoming a bit more conscious about life, spirit and the pursuit of lasting happiness, there’s no doubt that faith, actually conviction, of a higher self has never failed me. At this stage of life, I don’t miss a day of inner communion, reducing my desires and breaking attachment to life in general. Seems like the less wanting and attachment the more happiness! BTW, I don’t mean less caring or participation in life and responsibilities. By all means, being present and accounted for is absolutely part of my process.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Don’t Worry Be Happy” was a quote of Avatar Meher Baba that I heard or read back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. There were posters of Meher Baba’s smiling face and the Don’t Worry quote below the photo. Sometime in the late 80’s Bobby McFerrin won a couple of Grammy awards for his song titled, Don’t Worry Be Happy. He wrote that song after seeing a Meher Baba poster with the quote when visiting with friends. This quote has become the foundation that supports me in my daily life and especially when faced with adversity.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

The Movement: ENLIGHTEN SOMEONE YOU LOVE!

The Mission: Promote biological enlightenment and the essential need for a “balanced spectral diet” for enhanced health and reduced risk of disease.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

SOLshine.org

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

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Savio P. Clemente
Authority Magazine

TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor