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Ari Honarvar      

Founder of Rumi with a View & Author of "A Girl Called Rumi"

Ari Honarvar is an award-winning writer, speaker, and artist dedicated to building bridges between the arts, social justice, and well-being. Her words have appeared in Parents, Teen Vogue, The Guardian, Washington Post, Newsweek, New York Times, and elsewhere.

Honarvar's critically acclaimed debut novel, "A Girl Called Rumi" is a BookFest Award Winner, a Nautilus Award Winner, a Locus Award Finalist, a Foreword INDIES Award Finalist and a Kirkus Reviews best books of 2022. She is the author and illustrator of Rumi’s Gift featuring an oracle deck and an accompanying book of original translations, meditations, stories, and artistic collaboration with the renowned illustrator, Carmen Costello.

As part of her continuous efforts to build poetry and musical bridges across war-torn and conflict-ridden borders, Honarvar is the Iranian Musical Ambassador of Peace, dancing with refugees and conducting Resilience through Joy workshops for refugees and volunteers on either side of the U.S.- Mexico border and in Europe. Due to the program's success, she now offers a customized program to schools, nonprofits, and corporations committed to social justice.

Her recent Washington Post op-ed on Arranged Friendships has elicited an overwhelming response from all over the world. She has been interviewed by different podcasts and publications on the subject including The Atlantic’s Friendship Files and is now helping facilitate other arranged friendship groups.

A TEDx speaker, Honarvar presents at conventions like Comic-Con, universities such as UCSD, nonprofits, churches, and other venues. She has been a guest on NPR, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and elsewhere. In live performances, she collaborates with musicians of different cultures and presents a dynamic program including poems, stories, and music.

Speech Topics

When Savoring a Pleasant Moment is a Radical Act

Because of the pervasive negativity bias, the relentless busyness of modern life, and our increasing dependence on devices, we have gradually lost the ability to savor and extend moments of genuine pleasure and contentment. Our attention is increasingly fixated on "what's wrong", intensifying stress and amplifying the cascade of problems that stress inevitably brings, all the while causing us to overlook and miss out on the most fulfilling moments of our lives.

In this talk, Ari Honarvar introduces the audience to the transformative practice of savoring intervention that gently shifts our attention to "what's right", freeing us to fully experiencing the best moments life has to offer. Drawing from her personal experience of growing up amidst war and oppression, as well as her extensive background in dancing with refugees, Ari vividly illustrates how embracing and savoring pleasant moments can significantly enhance our wellbeing, even in the most challenging environments and circumstances. She presents practical approaches to:

  • Fostering a deep sense of embodiment.
  • Enhancing the capacity to navigate challenges through simple joy-infused practices.
  • Cultivating a stronger sense of camaraderie and ease when collaborating with other team members.
  • Rekindling one’s relationship with imagination to promote well being, nurture creativity, and facilitating problem-solving.
  • Prioritizing actions meaningful to our sense of purpose.

Arranged Friendships—A Creative Solution for the Loneliness Crisis

As a species, we’ve prioritized relationships for millennia, but we’ve never had to contend with so many powerful opposing forces. Traditional and social media, the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and diet industries, all profit from our disconnection from our bodies, our environment, and each other, while the busyness of life in a transactional world doesn’t leave much room to foster healthy relationships.

As a result, we live in an age of loneliness when the number of people with zero close friends has quadrupled since 1990 and our other relationship needs remain unfilled. This talk will explore the creative arranged friendship model (featured in the Atlantic, Washington Post, and Insider) for making new friends and how bringing more intentionality and structure to all our relationships frees us to prioritize what nourishes us.

What I’ve learned from Dancing with Refugees

Ari Honarvar grew up in Iran where music and dancing abruptly became illegal as a result of a fundamentalist takeover of the government. Now she brings what was denied to her as a child (music and dancing) and what she longed for as a newcomer in the U.S. (a sense of community) to other refugees. In the past seven years, she has danced with thousands of refugees from all over the world as a means of alleviating the burdens of depression, anxiety, stress, and trauma. In this talk Ari will not only share the profound transformations she witnessed during dance sessions with refugees but also shed light on the numerous benefits of music and dancing, which extend beyond stress relief.

She will explore how simple movements and practices that incorporate five senses facilitate the processing of difficult emotions, enhance creativity, cultivate unity and camaraderie within groups, and even boost productivity.

Breaking Free: Challenging the Inner and External Morality Police

As a girl who grew up in Iran during the rise of the Islamist regime, Ari Honarvar witnessed firsthand the impact of the morality police on people’s daily lives. This included censorship of the arts and free speech, and restrictions on basic rights for women and minorities. She has recently observed that "morality police" are not limited to Iran’s paramilitary enforcers. They’re a global force, and they’re spreading.

In 2019, dictatorships outnumbered democracies around the world while cancel culture continues to wreak havoc on the mental health of the canceler, the canceled, and the onlooker. As a result many U.S. residents are confused about what they can say and where they can say it, and they have become hesitant to have certain kinds of conversations, fearing the consequences.

The morality police are loose in the free world, but they’re also lurking in our heads, silencing us from within. In this talk, Ari will share practical ways we can notice and challenge our own morality police and engage in necessary and difficult conversations that improve our individual and communities’ wellbeing. She will provide valuable insights on leading organizations through a transformation, as they transition from a culture of silence to a culture that welcomes productive dialogue.


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