Tag Archives: Wisdom2.0

Happiness, Laughter Yoga and Wake up London, Heart of London Sangha

To begin thank you again to all the people, who give me encouragement and inspiration to write this blog.  Sometimes I think I am lucky, I get to choose how I spend my time and where I put my energy.  Last week I was asked to volunteer at the Museum of Happiness, second event on ‘Exploring Happiness: An Afternoon of Talks, Workshops and More!’.  I  have been to quite a few workshops in my time.  One of my values is learning, so I can overdo it and go to lots of events.  These days I try to go to less events and try to do more by writing, and sharing my work with others instead.  So I debated going to this event on a Saturday.  I was asked by my friend Shamash one of the co-founder’s and author of 7 books, including the latest one  The Mindful Way through Stress .

10714399_10152725248900983_8866355716824582720_o I decided to go and I was surprised that about 60 people turned up, motivated and really wanting to be there.  I got to work with all the volunteers who were interesting and compassionate people, I was thankful to be part of the team.  I listened to the two main talks from TEDx speakers.  The first one was Susanna Halonen ‘Screw Finding Your Passion: Unlock It & Find Happiness at Work’.

She calls herself a happyologist, in the introduction of her book she says:

“ stop chasing your passion.  Instead look inwards and you will see that passion is right there, within you…you’ll notice that people have been engrained with the message that they must find their one and only passion.”  

She goes on to share the five keys that unlock the passionate way of being:

  1. Be the Authentic You
  2. Understand Your Why
  3. Master the Art of Learning
  4. Connect with Your Tribe
  5. Play with Your Strengths

These are the key points for being authentic-

  1. Identify what your values are, what is important to you and why.  Awareness and fully embracing your values is the first step to unlocking your passion. If you want to do this you can take the VIA Survey of Character Strengths.
  2. Have the courage to carry your values in your everyday life.
  3. Acknowledge that being the authentic you at work is what helps you to be your best performing, most passionate you.

If you want to explore this area further this is another interesting resource by Neil Crofts to help you explore What is my purpose?

The second TEDx speaker was Marisa Peer ‘The Happiness Code: Three secrets to make your brain work for you’ with internationally acclaimed  therapist, multiple bestselling author.  From her experience she shares a fundamental rule that all our emotional and personal problems come from us believing that we’re not ‘enough’ and she explains how to overcome it.  She teaches people to say ‘I am enough’ and get’s people to write this on their mirrors and put on their fridge doors.  She shares the stories where this has worked.  To find out more you can watch her TEDx talk-

I got to also meet Esteban there a friend of a friend Ben Rodrigas, who I met at the Wisdom2.0 conference in 2014.  Here I am with some face painting by Livi Lollipop with the wise Esteban.

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Later in the week I was going to be running a post-lunch energiser with Julie Whitehead on

Laughter Yoga.  Last year I trained for two days to teach laughter yoga so I suggested it to TMSDI to have this as part of their yearly networking day.  They said yes, so we delivered a surprise Laughter Yoga session to the delegates.  Julie began by asking whether people have enough laughter in their life?  The room was silent and the answer was no.  So they were ready to give it a go.  We shared a little bit about laughter:

LAUGHTER – ho ho ha ha ha
Laughter releases endorphins, giving us the ‘feel good factor’, acts as aerobic exercise providing internal jogging, unleashes inhibitions, encourages better communication.  Great team building tool for colleagues. Helps boost our immune system which fights disease.  Tones muscles, improves respiration and circulation.  Encourages positive thinking and creativity.  Relaxes the whole body by reducing stress and tension. laughter yoga at TMSDI

We practiced quite a few laughter yoga exercises to encourage childlike playfulness, helping us all to let go and connect with the present moment.  There were 40 of us laughing together, there is something about the group energy that makes the laughter experience together even more special than when we laugh alone or with one other person.  We had an extra nice group, ready to give it a go and participate, it was a pleasure to be able to do this, so thank you to the wonderful Julie for saying yes and giving it a go to run the session with me.

This is a poem Julie shared at the end of our session:

SMILE FOR YOU 

“Smiling is infectious, you catch it like the flu.When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too. I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin. When he smiled I realised I’d passed it on to him. I thought about that smile, then I realised it’s worth. A single smile just like mine, could travel round the earth. So, if you feel a smile begin don’t leave it undetected Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!”

Also at the TMSDI network event was Dr Charles Margerison one of the founders of the Team Management Profile.  I have been accredited to use this team psychometric since 2006 and it is always great when you get to meet the creator.  I think his major role from the profile is a ‘creator-innovator’, the same as me.  His presentation was deep and thoughtful around the concept of existentialism and how we use our time.  He shared stories of people that had been successful, bringing to light ‘perception’, people that noticed something of more value than was already there.  For example, Heinz tomato ketchup was made from all the left over tomatoes that were going to be thrown away, Heinz found a different more valuable use for them.

Charles is an advocate of action learning.  He used to think you had to learn to act.  Professor Reginald Revans the originator of action learning said to him “why don’t you take some action and you will learn something.”  Most of the learning we acquire is from our experiences.  What new experiences can you have today, tomorrow, next week?  He ended his talk with saying:  “think about the right thing to do“, sometimes the right thing is not appreciated straight away or even during your lifetime.  He encouraged us all to be a little more daring and take some risks.  He is a unique character and really got into the laughter yoga exercises! maxresdefault

To close the day, I had been invited by Esteban to an evening talk in Covent Garden close by to where I was in Leicester Square.  I went to ‘ A Wake Up and Heart of London Sangha event for Mindful Entrepreneurs: Practising Together’.  This was facilitated by the two leads of the two groups Carol Wilkins and Joe Holtaway.  They both follow the teachings of Thich Nhat Han, a favourite teacher of mine. He encourages people to practice mindfulness meditation together through a sangha:

“In practicing together as a Sangha, as a community, our practice of mindfulness becomes more joyful, relaxed and steady. We are bells of mindfulness for each other, supporting and reminding each other along the path of practice. With the support of the community, we can practice to cultivate peace and joy within and around us, as a gift for all of those whom we love and care for. We can cultivate our solidity and freedom – solid in our deepest aspiration and free from our fears, misunderstandings and our suffering.”

I enjoyed the meditation together and it was interesting to hear about how people are running their business with mindfulness and some of the difficulties they are having and how as a group we could encourage and support each other.  This was the first meeting they had together, with a wish to continue.

Enjoy your weekend and leave any comments you have on my blog if you would like to.

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Week of the 6th April- Suicide and the Compassion Research day at Facebook

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Before starting my second weekly blog, I want to thank you if you read my previous blog – I appreciate that.  Also, some of you have emailed me feedback on the blog which I value and thank you for taking the time to do that.  I mentioned the topic of this week’s blog to a few people and they used the word “depressing” to describe it.  However, even if suicide is viewed by some people as a depressing topic, I think it is important to raise awareness of suicide and death.  It does not have to be depressing for us to talk about this and share our experiences.

This week was the week that my friend Justin Broglie died of suicide last year.  I met him at the Wisdom 2.0 conference in San Francisco last year.  I only knew him for 5 weeks before he died, however he left an impact with me and connected deeply in the short time that I knew him.  Below is a picture of Justin teaching some local Philadelphia kids how to meditate.

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We were both actually at the Compassion Research day at Facebook in 2014 during wisdom week, just before the Wisdom 2.0 conference.  This year it was sad for me when I went to the Compassion Research day at Facebook and he was no longer with us.  Equally I was sad and pleased with the topic of discussion during the day which was the work that Facebook have been doing on suicide prevention.

It’s estimated that around one million people will die by suicide worldwide each year 

(UK mental health foundation).

•Suicide remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35 (Five Years On, Department Of Health, 2005).

•More than 5700 people in the UK died by suicide in 2010 (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2012).

•British men are three times as likely as British women to die by suicide (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2004).

•The suicide rate among people over 65 has fallen by 24% in recent years, but is still high compared to the population overall. (Samaritans Information Resource Pack, 2004).

Suicide is something that we as a society are not comfortable with discussing and can bring pain to even bring it up.  Death is going to come to all of us.  Yet we spend most our lives trying to live longer and avoiding the subject.  I have thought that it would make it easier if we learnt about death and how to prepare for it at an early age, even at school, it would be more sensible than the stress encountered of when it happens and not being prepared with how to handle it.

Facebook can be seen in lots of ways; a social media giant, a place where you appear to have so many friends yet can feel depressed and alone.  I saw another side of Facebook that surprised me, as it is not something most people are aware of.  What happens at Facebook behind the scenes that I got to experience two years in a row is the work of the Compassion team at Facebook led by Arturo Bejar.  This is where they share their latest research related to helping make technology more compassionate.  In this blog I will be sharing their work on Suicide and in a future blog I will share the work they are doing with the Greater Good Science Centre.

11071145_10153081821327415_4285278657027288661_oIt is pretty shocking that 41,000 deaths in the US are from suicide, more people use guns to kill themselves than breast cancer or homicide.  Although from watching the media during my time in the US you would think differently and think that homicides were more prevalent.  Suicide is happening although, hidden and not really discussed in the media.  I was reassured by the work that Facebook are doing to care for people using Facebook and using it as a platform to connect with others and get help and support.  They have  three leads across the world covering  three time zones  that are on alert to help anyone that raises a concern and may need help.  Initially they encourage friends to help friends by putting together a suggested email that they can amend and add to or send as it is.  They have worked with researchers at the University of Washington, and two organisations that help to prevent suicide called Forefront and Now Matters Now to develop the content and resources available to help people in pain and suffering.  The responses link to a number of positive options, including videos from Now Matters Now, an online program started by Forefront research scientist Ursula Whiteside that uses real-life accounts of people who have struggled with suicidal thoughts to provide research-based coping strategies.

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The two presenters, one from Now Matters Now called Ursula and from Forefront Dr Stuber, were truly courageous and inspirational.  They shared very deep and personal stories about suicide and have started the two organisations now partnering with Facebook.  When I sometimes ask people what they want to do, myself included, the answer is to help people, but help people do what?  These two ladies are helping to destigmatise suicide and show there is a way to help people suffering, by sharing their story, providing information and resources about suicide.

Ursula Whiteside is suicide prevention researcher, developer of this #NowMattersNow, and one of the first psychologists to publicly disclose that she has experienced suicide ideation. She thinks that lots of people have suicidal thoughts and yet it does not define them – or limit what they can achieve #ZeroSuicide

Dr. Stuber from the University of Washington, who lost her husband to suicide in 2011, has conducted research and informed advocacy work to improve Washington States readiness to address the public health problem of suicide. In 2013, she co-founded the UW-affiliated organization Forefront, which focuses on innovations in suicide prevention policy, education, outreach and research.

Information is out there, however, I do not think everyone knows about it unless they really need to know.  For example, while watching the recent BBC1 programme ‘Life After Suicide’ I became aware of a place in London to help people called ‘Maytree’ a Sanctuary for the Suicidal.  They provide people in the midst of a suicidal crisis with the opportunity for rest and reflection, and give them the opportunity to stay in a calm, safe and relaxed environment. They can support four “guests” at a time. The service runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The volunteers and staff team spend up to 77 hours with each guest over their stay, giving them the opportunity to talk through their fears, thoughts and troubles. On leaving, each guest receives a goodbye letter. This is a personal record written by a member of Maytree’s staff team which reflects their stay, validates their struggles and honours their achievements.  Maybe we need more places like this in the UK and the rest of the world.

On Facebook I shared the remembrance of Justin and I think most people do not know the best way to respond.  The more we can talk about suicide I think the more people will respond to others experiencing suicidal thoughts and friends and family of people after suicide.  Although one of my friends Lincoln did share more with me following the post:

“I saw your post re your friend that committed suicide. And whilst listening to a Buddhist talk on non-self I thought of a poem I wrote that you might like and get comfort from. To me depression can be a door to dispassion and enlightenment and I think this was the thread of the poem.”

Once I laid asleep and woke,                                                                                                                                                                  To beauty all around,                                                                                                                                                                      Sun rays, softness, warmth and peace,                                                                                                                                             A couch, a room, a window I’d found.

13 years of age,                                                                                                                                                                                  A transforming stage,                                                                                                                                                                Looking out on the world around,                                                                                                                                                  And as I did, it bit by bit,                                                                                                                                                                Came crashing,tumbling down.

Sun rays darkened to thoughts I’d left, behind before I slept,                                                                                                 Softness hardened to thoughts I’d had,  of passed and so inside I wept,                                                                                  Warmth turned cold to thoughts I’d need, for future plans iI’d kept,                                                                                             And peace oh peace, such sweet release turned to hatred and contempt.

Let me sleep some more I thought,                                                                                                                                                  13 but lives so old,                                                                                                                                                                            Its hard to bare the load out there,                                                                                                                                                 When so much beauties sold.

To thoughts of goals and dos and don’t,                                                                                                                                            To thoughts of then and when,                                                                                                                                                            To thoughts of making sense,                                                                                                                                                             Of senseless everything.

But this tangled mess of thoughts to digest,                                                                                                                                  Will always be out there,                                                                                                                                                                     So I awoke,                                                                                                                                                                                      but kept a piece of peace,                                                                                                                                                                To a world less hard to bare.

Lincoln Mitchell 2012- lincolnmitchell@me.com

Facebook has 1.393 billion monthly active users (Craig Smith, 28/1/15) spending an average of 21 minutes a day.  Whatever we may think of this growth in social media –  be it good for us or bad for us, or both good and bad –and using it in this way to help people when they are suffering most and feeling alone to feel they are not alone, and letting them know that help is available is definitely great work by Facebook – so gratitude and compassion to the team at Facebook working on this for us all.

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To close this week’s blog, a lesson I learnt from meeting Justin is the importance of how we engage with others when we meet them: are we present, are we listening to them?  We will never have the chance to have the same interaction again.  Remember a kind word, a gentle smile, listening with your heart can make your day and someone else’s a day to remember.

More information-

* Life After Suicide http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b05n2922

* Panorama – a Suicide in the Family- http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05rcrx0/panorama-a-suicide-in-the-family

* Suicide respite centre in London- http://www.maytree.org.uk/index.php

* Now matters now- http://www.nowmattersnow.org

* Forefront- http://www.intheforefront.org

* Recordings of the presentations from the Facebook Compassion Research Day: http://bit.ly/1GPtwwG and slides from the presentations: http://bit.ly/1BF9rZD

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Reflections on Wisdom 2.0- a conference that opened my heart to connection and wisdom in the world

A year ago I was going to my first Wisdom 2.0 conference in 2014 on Valentine’s day.  I have to honestly say that this is the best conference I have attended.  2,000 people attended to come together to talk about wisdom, compassion, technology. IMG_2334 IMG_2377

At the conference you were surrounded and amongst some of the greats that started the mindfulness movement; for example Jon-Kabat Zinn, Sharon Salzberg and Krsiten Neff. At the time and while I was there people kept asking me what do you think of the conference, what have you got out of coming, will you come next year.  While I was there I was trying to be there, present in the moment.  Unable to answer these questions at the time.  I went open to what would emerge, with no real expectations.  A year later I am ready to share some of the moments that gave me great joy and sorrow.  As my favourite zen buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Han says ‘No mud, no lotus.’ During the conference I met so many people that blew me away with the work that they were doing.  Very young people developing apps to help homeless people to get food.  As a society we think of young people as being self-centred and only concerned with themselves and making money.  The connection with the people I met was a heart, to heart connection that I had not experienced before.  You meet some people on the first day and the next day they are your friend.  This is rare.  I had not met people before that were into consciousness and running their business with wisdom and compassion. On the final day we went out for lunch with a diverse group of people, some technology people, mindfulness experts, legal professionals.  During that lunch I met Justin Broglie from Philadelphia, as a group we had lunch together.  He was only 23 at the time, he achieved and did so much, he started the Penn Consciousness club at his university.  Some of us will never achieve as much as he did in his short life.  He connected deeply with me and shared wisdom with me, for that I am forever grateful as Justin is no longer with us. http://beingwithjustin.net  My only wish is I had spent longer talking with him. 1798056_10152246889641141_1107367765361770247_n After the conference I wanted to keep connected with the people I met from all over the world.  One way to do this was to use technology.  I started a google hangout in June 2014 where we could meet once a month online for an hour and guide each other in a meditation practice together.    This is a small group of people coming together as a community a sangha to share, learn and develop together from each others wisdom.  (https://plus.google.com/events/c3hs4up6eeba3v5evnm3f50rdts?authkey=CNby7bbx1-TfbA)

Just before the conference I went to the Compassion day of research at Facebook to meet Dacher Keltner a professor of psychology at University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Greater Good Science Centre.  We talked about his work on compassion with executives and also self-compassion and leadership.  His presence and sharing of knowledge with me was AWEinspiring! IMG_2225 During the conference there was a wisdompreneur’s party I went to, Californian style with a hot tub and swimming pool in the living room, a roof terrace with beautiful views of San Francisco.  Afterwards I joined the Facebook group for wisdompreneur’s and was interested in meeting people like this is London.  I started running meetup’s in July 2014 and now am the local liaison lead for wisdompreneur’s in london.  (http://www.wisdompreneurs.com)

I am now ready and in anticipation for Wisdom 2.0 2015 and all that it will bring and looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones.  My intention is to practice being more present while I am there.  Also this year I want to make more video’s asking people about compassion and wisdom in life and work, learning more about the different ways people practice it?  How can we make it a part of our life and not an added extra?  How can we really be and find our real purpose and make deep connections with the people we meet in the digital age where we are constantly being distracted?

One way is to practice sitting still in silence, when was the last time you just sat and did nothing, focusing on your breath as if your life depended on it as Jon Kabat-Zinn often says?

See some of my short video highlights from Wisdom 2.0 2014 below-

James Doty from CCARE the most compassionate man I met at Wisdom 2.0-  Interview with Austin Hill Shaw at Wisdom 2.0-  Volunteer at Wisdom2.0 Shelly Smith from ‘living into grace’ that I gave my superwoman top away to-  IMG_2420

Suzukhi on the open mic  Oskar talking and hugging Brother David-  Meng from Google managing conflict mindfully-  Drumming at the end of the first day of the conference-

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