“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision,
then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” ~ Audre Lorde
People always ask me why I go to so many Wisdom 2.0 events, and it is true, I go to a lot! Over the past five years I have attended nine events including five 2.0’s in San Francisco (3000 delegates this year!) one in Dublin, and three Unplugged events at my favourite retreat centre of all time, The Esalen Institute (perched in the most miraculous way on the cliffs just outside Big Sur).
So, to give you an idea of why I can’t keep away, here are some of my take-aways from this year…
Sitting at The Feet of The Masters
For a mindfulness advocate, teacher and student, I don’t think there is anything quite like the opportunity of sitting in practice with the world’s greatest teachers. This year, over the course of only 2.5 days, I was blessed with the opportunity to meditate with John Kabat-Zinn, Roshi Joan Halifax, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzburg. For this opportunity alone, I would fly 10 hours to California.
Still resonating with me are these words from John Kabat-Zinn…
“Mindfulness is infinitely available and close and it is the hardest work in the world to get in touch with it.”
“Meditating every day is a radical act of self-love.”
“Mindfulness is not a performance and it requires no rehearsal.”
(On teaching mindfulness) “None of us are really capable of doing this, but when the house is on fire, you do the best you can.”
… and Jack Kornfield’s mini practices for walking mindfully through life:
“Try to see others as if they were dearest members of your own family.”
“Imagine the innocence of a child in the person in front of you – you can see it.”
“Pretend you are the Dalai Lama, who meets everybody as an old friend.”
“Offer silent blessings to all those you meet. Eg. May you be happy, may you be well.”
Relationship, Mind and Community – Dan Siegel
When Dr. Dan Siegel opens the Wisdom 2.0 conference with the quantum science that proves that we are one, explains how mindfulness and meditative practices drop us into the plane of possibility, and offers the quote, “You are not the wax of the candle, you are the flame”, you know it is going to be a great conference! (Well at least for someone like me!)
If you are not familiar with his work, Dr. Dan Siegel is clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA. He is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute which focuses on the development of mindsight, which teaches insight, empathy, and integration in individuals, families and communities.
My takeaways from his keynote:
- Unhappiness arises from the drive to accumulate stuff for the perceived self.
- Meditation drops us into the plane of possibility.
- Self is a plural verb, not a singular noun.
- You are not the wax of the candle, you are the flame, the light.
- Deep in the heart of practices we access consciousness, we drop into love.
- Compassion practices help us overcome our ‘in group’ ‘out group’ biases.
- As humans we are on a journey to integrate Me and We, to discover MWE.
The Wisdom of Death – Frank Ostaseski
Frank Ostaseski is an internationally respected Buddhist teacher and pioneer in contemplative end of life care. He is the visionary co-founder of the Zen Hospice Project, and founder of the Metta Institute. He has lectured at Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic, and the Long Now Foundation. He is the author of The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully.
Frank’s talk was accompanied by a slideshow of beautifully moving photographs of many of his patients, whom he tended at the Zen Hospice Project.
- If we have a human body, we should expect it to have problems.
- The two most important questions in life are: Am I loved? Did I love well?
- Do we need to die before we can rest in peace?
- Death is the secret teacher, you don’t have to wait.
Tristan Harris is the Co-Founder of the Center for Humane Technology and is getting used to being introduced as the ‘closest thing Silicon Valley has to a conscience’! (He was the former Design Ethicist at Google). I have been following Tristan’s work closely over the last few years having briefly connected with him at Esalen one summer. In my view, the questions he asks of technology companies are critical to the path we take as a civilisation from here as we enter the era of AI and robotics. If you’d like to find out more about Tristan’s work, the great tips he offers for digital wellbeing and how to create a shift in the focus of tech giants, search for the Center for Humane Technology.
By Neil Seligman
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