The Wisdom 2.0 conference just wrapped up. If you haven’t heard of it, the goal of the conference is to address the question: “How can we live with wisdom, awareness, and compassion in the digital age?” This is probably the premier event for the mindfulness community in America. The speakers (and, for that matter, the attendees) are an eclectic mix of monks, neuroscientists, media moguls, psychologists, yogis, teachers, corporate leaders, and even an NFL trainer and a U.S. Congressman. The full schedule can be found here.
The premise of the conference is pretty simple: there are certain practices like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), that we have borrowed or adapted from ancient traditions (that’s the “wisdom”) and are now able to scientifically prove their effectiveness on physical, mental, and emotional health. That’s a really good thing, because our health is getting worse and worse as we adopt more and more technology (smartphones, monoculture food, etc.), and the pharmaceutical path to health is fraught with innumerable pitfalls and traps. The hard part is getting the word out about these new, old techniques. The gathering was focused on strengthening the mindfulness community and encouraging people to take the actions to spread the good news.
As a data scientist, attending the conference was a bit of a departure for me, but I heeded my own oft-used advice: when in doubt, take the action that you would regret not taking later. My self-proclaimed goals for attending the conference were to: Listen, Learn, Connect, and Act. I did pretty well on the first two, and not so well on the second two. I’d love to be able to report that the conference was amazing and life-changing, and maybe eventually as some of it sinks in more deeply and I take actions based on what I follow up on, it will have been. But in the near term, I can only say that it was interesting, and worth my time.
There were a few talks that really shined for me, and made the conference especially worthwhile. Luckily, they were all videoed and made public on the conference website. Here are my quick-picks:
- Larry Rosen did a great job in quickly summarizing some fascinating scientific research in his talk: The Great Human Experiment: Technology and the Brain, the Latest Research and Findings.
- Jon Kabat-Zinn had a lot of great insights and quotables in his talk: Mindfulness in the World.
- Arianna Huffington was quite inspiring as she shared some powerful personal stories that led to her transformation in: The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power.
- Eckhart Tolle was both incredibly human and metaphysically mind-blowing in his meditative lecture on: The Power of the Present Moment and the subsequent interview with Karen May of Google.
- Congressman Tim Ryan brought it all home and gave us all hope that change is possible in: Building a Mindful Movement in America.
Here are the handful of quotes I chose to tweet, that also summarize the conference:
- “You check your watch, and my God, it’s ‘now’ again!” Jon Kabat-Zin
- “A team’s inability to focus often stems from ego.” Irene Au
- “What are we giving our eulogizers to work with?” Arianna Huffington
- “It’s much more fun to be curious than judgmental.” Jonathan Rosenfeld
- “With all … that we are doing, wrap the ‘doing’ in ‘being’…and it will bring us back to being fully human.” Jon Kabat-Zin
- “Onward, upward, and inward!” Arianna Huffington
Finally, my tweetable summary of the message I took away from the conference:
“We spend too much time living in rewind and fast-forward. Just hit play. And listen.” Chris LuVogt
I hope to expand on the importance of listening in a follow-up post soon. In the meantime, may you find peace and happiness. And yes, I do feel a little more wise after having attended, but “don’t call me Curly!” 😉