If you are one of those highly accomplished, over-caffeinated, exhausted business leaders, you're in luck. It is now cool to admit it, and approach things in a healthier way.
Based on my experience last week at the Third Metric Live conference in New York, mindfulness has officially reached the East Coast masses. As a 17-year meditation and yoga veteran, I sometimes feel like yelling "It's about time" from the rooftop. My attitude, relationships, problem-solving abilities, and well-being benefit greatly when I practice mindfulness.
Huffington Post President and Founder, Arianna Huffington, teamed with Mika Brzezinski, MSNBC co-anchor for Morning Joe, to launch this conference. Over 1,000 well-coiffed, fashion-conscious attendees -- 90 percent female -- enjoyed personal apothegms from Tory Burch, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ellen Goodman, Alanis Morrisette, Randi Zuckerberg (yes, that Zuckerberg), and British mogul-turned-monk Andy Puddicombe.
Just three years ago, it would have taken a miracle worker to entice East Coast urban professionals to attend a $395 conference that promised to help you "chart a new way forward and live lives that are more authentic and more fulfilling." Now, self-help meetups such as Third Metric Live need security barriers to manage the crowds.
I sat back and observed the conference vibe. In the past 17 years, I have attended at least 40 retreats, conferences and seminars. (full disclosure: I'm a chronic lifelong learner, and appreciated Arianna's offer to extend a media pass to me.)
The initial evening session inspired me. THRIVE speakers extolled the importance of adequate sleep, daily naps and “digital detox days.” (I am a huge fan of unplugging for 24 hours every weekend). Yet the moderators and speakers tirelessly promoted their apps and newest book.
Holistic doctors and practitioners such as Mark Hyman, Richard Davidson, and David B. Agus promoted healthy eating habits, and banning sugar. Yet the break areas served sweetened juices, pretzels and boatloads of brownies.
In a nutshell, Arianna is a seasoned trend-spotter and marketer, and realizes Westerners need to find a middle path between Buddhist ascetic practices and “in your face” capitalism. She designed a large scale media campaign to coincide with her newest book, THRIVE, which launched on March 31. Prior to that time, she was a regular speaker at the groundbreaking Wisdom 2.0 conferences, which originated on the West Coast. Her own personal journey of transformation and reinvention happened out of necessity in 2007, when she collapsed from exhaustion and woke up on the floor in a pool of blood (her signature story and book hook).
Much like Oprah, Donna Karan and Sheryl Sandberg, Huffington is helping us discover our best selves. These leadership pioneers encourage us to go onward, upward, and inward. Whether we agree with the glitzy approach or not, we sometimes need personalities who can bridge the intimidating, sometimes insurmountable gap between neuroscientists and ashram dwellers. They represent mindfulness for the masses.
If you are sincerely interested in deepening your understanding of some aspect of mindfulness, such as yoga, martial arts, breath work, meditation, conscious communication techniques, or Reiki, seek other options that augment these mega-conferences. I recommend several programs for you to consider. I have attended all of these programs, and found them beneficial:
Landmark Worldwide LLC -- a global education firm with roots in Werner Erhard's '80s est training. I cannot effectively summarize the value they deliver, except to say that they offer some of the finest self-awareness, communications and confidence building tools I have ever seen.
Clarity International -- Co-Founders Cathy and Gary Hawk help successful leaders design "what's next" in their businesses, careers and families using a unique interviewing and visioning methodology. Professional basketball teams, entertainers, and CEOs alike have gained value from their coaching programs and seminars. (note: we have a referral relationship)
Esalen Institute -- A campy, legendary retreat on the cliffs of Big Sur, CA. During their 55-year history, they have offered courses ranging from Raku pottery, Five Rhythms dance, meditation, yoga and massage. I have attended six programs at Esalen, feasted on their freshly-grown organic produce, and savored the natural hot springs baths. Some areas of the sacred Native American property, are clothing optional. Some first timers at Esalen struggle with the earthy, unpretentious hippie culture and poor WiFi. I love the change from my daily structured routine.
Wisdom 2.0 Conferences -- Check their website for dates and locations. Founder Soren Gorenstam assembles an impressive group of scientists and mindfulness practitioners, such as former Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Jack Kornfield, and Twitter co-founder Evan Williams. Wisdom provides a brief overview of the intersection between technology and mindfulness in today’s organizations.
Is it time you injected more wisdom into your marketing organization and growth strategy? These options will help you get started on your path to worldly wisdom.
Copyright 2014, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.
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