Please pardon the absence… I’ve spent the last couple weeks doing some personal development. Between the Wisdom 2.0 Conference and a week-long silent meditation retreat, I haven’t had much opportunity to digest all that I’ve taken in recently, let alone blog about it!
Even though it took place waaay back last month, I wanted to share a little bit more about my experience at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference.
Before signing up, all I knew about Wisdom 2.0 was a fuzzy idea that it was about technology and mindfulness. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go—descriptions were vague, it was pretty expensive, and I wasn’t sure how much I liked its target audience of tech-elite. I came up with plenty of excuses and dragged my feet for a good month or so before coming to my senses and finally signing up for it.
Looking back, I can't help but laugh at my hesitance. Um, hello. I have a website called Mindfulness Online, my program is all about using technology to spread mindfulness. How did I not sign up for this conference immediately?!
Ego. Fear. Self-consciousness. Anxiety. Doubt. I guess those were some of the reasons.
Tense with anxiety, my tightened jaw and I made our way into the crowded hall of over 2,000 attendees. Soon though, my anxiety and my jaw loosened as I began to open to what all the conference had in store. Guided meditations for 2,000 attendees, group yoga with 2,000 attendees, and exercises in mindful communication with our seat mates meant that instead of being surrounded by strangers I needed to protect myself from, I was part of a community, each of us with something valuable to offer. Cool!
Here’s a quick-ish run-down of some of the nuggets I learned once my heart opened to the possibilities at Wisdom 2.0:
- Technology is not inherently evil/distracting/a terrible drain on society— The general consensus at the conference was that the addictive nature of our gadgets can leave us wanting more meaningful connection with ourselves and others; while these same gadgets can also offer us new avenues for connection with people all over the world. It all depends on how we use them. Ok, I knew this, but I will admit that I’ve held off from getting an iPhone for fear of the limits of my own self-control.
- Tech people are alright—Some of my misgivings about the conference had to do with a group that I viewed as the “other.” In the past year of living in SF, I have not been too enamored with the tech-class as my perception of these young, newly-minted millionaires had been rather biased. But meeting these “others” and seeing how they too are human just like me, working to find a deeper meaning in their lives, reminded me to hold off my judgments. How easily I forget that life can be challenging for each of us, regardless of our social status or paycheck.
- We should be working on our eulogies instead of our resumes—Arianna Huffington gave a great talk on a new metric for measuring success that includes health, happiness and well-being. As she put it, no one at your funeral will be remarking on your ability to put together a Power-Point presentation. Though, that’s probably just because they never saw my awesome presentation on insurance that included an animated slide of Richard Gere topless, doing a flip on a jet ski. But still, I’d rather be remembered for how I loved and lived than how many LinkedIn contacts I had.
- Spacious presence is within us all—If you have the time, stop what you’re doing and watch this presentation from Eckhart Tolle, or at least bookmark it and watch it when you can. It’s so easy to get caught up in the fantasy world of our thoughts and emotions, we often forget that under all of that is an unending field of spacious presence. We’ve got it with us always. We just have to remember to take a breath, get still and tap into it.
- Gratitude is interactive mindfulness—Yeah, I already feel pretty strongly about this. And Brother David Steindl-Rast did an excellent job explaining how we can do better at bringing more gratitude and in turn more joy into our lives. We just have to stop, look, and go. Just like crossing the street. Stop means wisdom, a quality of the mind that comes by allowing whatever comes our way to grab us. Look means awareness. We see difficulties along with a way to solve them. Go means acting with a mind/heart of compassion. Check out Brother David’s talk, he is far more eloquent than I am.
My biggest take-away from the conference though, isn’t really something I can sum up for you on a bullet pointed list. Rather, my experience during the weekend gave me a renewed sense of self-confidence in who I am, what I am pursuing, and my intentions for pursuing it. All of those reasons I had for not attending the conference dissolved into a more confident, excited and love-filled version 2.0 of me. Woohoo for Wisdom!