Sparking a Mindful Nation: My Journey through Wisdom 2.0

Being Aware and One with NatureI am very grateful to Kendra, my friend from the Omega Institute, who urged me last year to attend Wisdom 2.0.  There were 1600 others at the gathering — business leaders, health practitioners, entrepreneurs, wisdom teachers, and social change workers seeking to create lives, workplaces, and a society of deeper purpose and meaning.  Not only did the conference far exceed my expectations for great content, but it also generated some amazing new conversations, connections and experiences for me to explore.  Additionally, it has provided me with more clarity of purpose and an avenue to further channel my efforts.

What caught my fancy was the level of synchronicity that I experienced from the very first moment I entered the space.  I walked right up to Monique, a wisdom coach who sent me a message on Facebook, “Maybe the mystery will have us run into each other at the conference,” on the very first day.  Similar events happened many more times during the next 3 days, including my bumping into Meng Tan, Google’s Jolly Good Fellow, as I was leaving the conference.  Meng and I had planned to meet but our schedules didn’t sync up and then  it just happened, at the last moment.

The interviews and talks were very engaging and authentic.  Speakers shared more from their heart, not their thinking mind alone.  They didn’t mind what others would think of them for sharing their inner beliefs, which encouraged everyone to be more open and courageous.

There were so many things that I learned and insights that emerged at Wisdom 2.0 that listing all of them here would make you feel like drinking water out of a fire hydrant, if you have ever tried it.  So, I am going to highlight just a few that truly gave me hope and energized me to do more towards creating an enlightened society.  I was encouraged by what I experienced, as it will take a large number of people working all over the globe to make it happen.

My personal highlights from Wisdom 2.0:

    • When I saw the Executive Chairman of Ford, Bill Ford, reach deep within and share his authenticity about the potential demise of his family’s name as a company and his feelings about laying off personal friends, I realized how compassion and wisdom can be used even in big business to benefit all stakeholders.  When such insights are accepted and practiced in a true mid-western company, I see hope. Click to watch his interview.
    • How Arianna Huffington’s was able to channel the learning from her own wake up call, when she fainted from exhaustion and hit her head on her desk, broke a cheek bone and got stitches on her eye.  Click here to watch her talk about taking better care of yourself.
    • CEO of LinkedIn, Jeff Weiner spoke about compassion being the cornerstone of their corporate culture.  LinkedIn has had phenomenal growth, quarter over quarter.  Click here to watch his interview.
    • The stories of 3 young veterans, their challenges, their transformations and the current state of affairs for those who serve and protect our nation.  We are losing a veteran to suicide every 65 minutes. Click to hear their interview.
    • Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who eloquently spoke about the challenges young people face on a daily basis and how she personally handled the war and the uncertainty of life in Iraq and how the Bhagawat Gita helped her. Click here to watch her interview.
    • How top technologists/intellectuals from Google, Cisco and Facebook use meditation as a practice to be more present and improve their confidence and bring authenticity in their relationships and purpose to their lives.

Additionally, a brand new opportunity sprung up for me at the conference.  Last year, I had come across a wonderful book, A Mindful Nation written by Congressman Tim Ryan, in which he beautifully describes a “quiet revolution” that’s happening to build a mindful society.  We had met a couple of times and had planned to do something at Wisdom 2.0 together, but his day job had him consumed and we did not get a chance to collaborate until the Friday at the conference.  He shared his vision of creating a foundation that would support mindfulness initiatives across the country and asked me to help him ramp it up.

I was delighted by his request as it’s completely aligned with my dream of creating an enlightened society where inner awareness empowers people to thrive in harmony.  So we put on our thinking hats and came up with a breakout session on Sunday afternoon to gather those folks who are currently involved in mindfulness-based projects or interested in starting new programs.  We wanted to see if we could coordinate the efforts of the various “spark plugs” in the country (a term shared by Gopi Kallayil from Google as he challenged the audience) and titled our session, “Sparking a Mindful Nation.”

Photo Courtesy: Artie Moffa
Photo Courtesy: Artie Moffa

Almost 100 people attended and we collected their ideas and projects under six different topics — Self & Family, Children & Schools, Community & Global, Corporate & Industry, Healthcare, and Military, Veterans & First Responders.  The participants suggested another category called Politics, Government & Democracy and I quickly added it.

We hope this marks the launch of a coordinated movement to create a Mindful Nation for us and generations to come.  Stay tuned for more…

Peace and be well,

P.S.  As I was wrapping up after the session, a young man came up to me and introduced himself as Shane and I noticed that he had exactly the same wristband that I had on my wrist and thanks to Michelle, who noticed it and took this picture.  Surprisingly, he had received his band the same day in Northern California that I received mine in Northern India — another interesting incidence of synchronicity.

Two continents - two people, same thread
Two continents, two people – same thread

P.P.S.  A special thank you Laurel, Louise and Colleen for your help with the session.

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