The ripple effect of global inspiration
Over the last 2 years, as people across the globe have adapted to change in ways very few could ever have imagined would be required, we have all become more more aware of the need to stay connected, and stay inspired.
Way back in May 2013 at the 1st International Mindfulness Conference in Rome, Jon Kabat-Zinn gave an impassioned plea in his opening keynote. He implored us not to water mindfulness down to just a skill, or a series of exercises, a short course, a meta cognitive approach to thoughts, or just being present. ‘It is all of these, and so much more’ he suggested. While the exponential growth of research showing the mental and physical health benefits of mindfulness brought it into the mainstream, he pleaded with researchers and practitioners from 35 countries to remember that mindfulness is nestled in an ancient body of teachings. Those teachings encompass the very core of what it means to be a human being; how suffering arises and how we alleviate it; what living an inspired life is and how we get there.
Those teachings show us how we stay present, certainly … and also … how to stay connected to our core values and to a sense of ourselves; to each other; to what matters; to being wise and skilful in the way we travel through challenging and easy times.
Several other key speakers from around the globe including Malcolm Huxter, Clinical Psychologist who at the time was working on Christmas Island, and myself who spoke on Leadership Wisdom all gave a sigh of relief as Jon Kabat-Zinn echoed words we had shared with each other. That mindfulness is a lifelong practice.
The entire conference was positioned with a mark of deep respect for the Contemplative traditions. Significantly the pre conference public lecture Mindfulness and Its Supportive Friends given by Ven. Ajahn Amaro from the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in the UK elucidated the ways in which the core Buddhist teachings support a wiser and more compassionate life.
Ven. Ajahn Amaro book Tudong – the Long Road North, republished in the expanded book Silent Rain, included an account of his 830-mile trek from Chithurst to Harnham Vihara. He shows how creation tends to happen through response to circumstances rather than from any self-propelled initiative including cultivating wisdom and compassion.
Many other leading mindfulness teachers also spoke about issues that have considerable importance right now in the midst of the pandemic. Mark Williams presented Mindfulness, suicidality and early adversity .. sharing rich insights into the effects of early adversity and what recent research is highlighting as ineffective, and effective clinical care.
Professor Paul Grossman from Switzerland gave a courageous and applauded keynote about Mindfulness and its obstacles in science and practice in which he challenged researchers for massaging research, and practitioners and the media for claiming things that don’t exist. And while the commercialisation of the latest new big thing ‘Mindfulness’ has sometimes suggested that a short course, a few mindful moments each day, listening to a few meditations on apps will completely transform your life, in reality, transforming your life tends to require focus and discipline and a slow evolution toward a more enlightened, inspired way of living.
One if the gifts of conferences is the collaborations and connections. The Australian Institute of Applied Mindfulness was founded after my collaboration with other keynote speakers, Paul Grossman, Ajahn Amaro, Jean Kristella, Jon Kabat Zinn and others at the wonderful conference dinner. We had all shared stories of our own personal journeys, how we came to start teaching, and writing. We all laughed as I showed Ven. Ajahn Amaro how I use Argentine Tango as medium and metaphor for mindfulness in action. We were all curious about where we were all heading and my colleagues encouraged me to start the Applied Mindfulness Institute in Australia – so that all professionals had access to the full body of traditional teachings synthesised with contemporary psychology, neuroscience and mindfulness in action.
The ripple effect of that inspiration from my colleagues has expanded to students across Australia New Zealand, USA, Canada, Japan, Pakistan and a few other countries. The ripple effect that their mindfulness training has had on them, their families, communities, clients, teams, organisations has been vast. The ripple effect born from all those students who not only sought to manage stress, or anxiety, or depression, or overwhelm to be calm and clear, but who ultimately also sought to deepen their compassion, and reach for wisdom, inspiration and greatness in their own lives, love and leadership
Liana Taylor © August 2021
(extended from first publication in June 2013)