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Wisdom and Awareness

I took the opportunity last week to participate in a gathering in San Francisco called Wisdom 2.0.  It is summit that has been running for 15 years whose mission is "to support people living with awareness and wisdom in our technology rich age".  The curation of the event was the most diverse I have ever attended… so insightful and thought provoking that I can barely scratch the surface of it all in this newsletter.  One of my main revelations is that in spite of all of our scientific advancements we don't know much. Deepak Chopra really drove this message home as he told us that humans only know .01% of what exists.  70% of the universe is mysterious dark matter. This is the space between galaxies that is continually expanding at the speed of light and does not follow Einsteinian physics. Of the remaining 30%, 97% of that is dark matter and is invisible. This dark matter is not atomic and cannot be seen by us so we do not know it.  Of the remaining 3%, 99.9% is invisible interstellar dust. That leaves .01% of the universe which includes 2 trillion galaxies, and an estimated 60 billion possibly habitable planets. Earth is but one of these, and we as humans are only one of the sentient species occupying this infinitesimally small percentage of the universe. 


Even the most brilliant astrophysicist or scientist among us knows almost nothing about what the universe contains or how it works. This perspective is daunting, but it does not have to be depressing or anxiety raising.  It can be inspiring.  During some of the most tumultuous times in my life I have found that stepping back to this cosmic perspective has helped ground me.  It relieves the pressure I put on myself to make everything "just right", to control and know and achieve. It gives me permission to let go and let myself just be. 


Take a moment to just pause in the vastness of this concept.  Imagine you are sitting outside at night looking at the night sky and seeing the stars and planets, maybe some comets and the Milky Way, and just let the vastness of it all sink in.  You are not meant to have all the answers.  We are meant to surrender to not knowing. It is in this place that we can practice awareness of ourselves, of our surroundings, of our connection to something greater. This is where the wonder and enjoyment of simple pleasures of flower buds, bird songs and smiles becomes like medicine. It is in this space of awareness where learning and exploring new ideas becomes fun.  Where we can be playful, curious and imaginative. 


This brings me to my second big take away from the summit.  Awareness is more powerful than knowledge.  Jon Kabat Zin was another amazing presenter at Wisdom 2.0.  He is often cited as the father of the current mindfulness movement, as the founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program.  Dr. Kabat Zin considers awareness to be one of our super-powers.  It is also an powerful technique for people looking to establish a meditation and mindfulness practice.  Rather than implying that we should sit down and clear our minds, the intention is to be aware, to be curious as our minds swirl with distraction.  One of the sessions I attended was a mindfulness practice and Q&A held in an annex to the main presentation theater.  It also happened to be where the pop up coffee shop was located.  Constantly throughout our time together the espresso machine was making espresso machine sounds.  To give you a sense of the kind of person Jon Kabat Zin is, rather than getting frustrated at the placement of his session, he just sat on stage and chuckled.  Noting that he had never done an espresso mindfulness session before, and inviting us to be aware not just of the sounds but of our minds noise about that sound. This is really the heart of mediation. Dropping expectations and the striving for some ideal state of being.  Just sitting and being aware. 


The most powerful take-away for me was the closing talk by Dr. Kabat Zin.  He summarized the challenges of our world today, and called on us not to check out and lament that we have to deal with this uncomfortable time.  Instead he told us this is an "all hands on deck moment".  The world needs kindness, compassion and action that comes from heartfelt awareness.  Awareness that we do not have all the answers, and we cannot solve all the problems.  And from that awareness we can notice one thing we can do to ease the discomfort of someone or something that we are aware is in need of help.  Acting from love we can make a contribution to the .01% that can have a ripple in the universe that we may never know, but that I am certain will have meaning.

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‘And from that awareness we can do something to ease the discomfort of someone who is in need of help…and that it will have a ripple in the universe.’ Such an important reminder. TY for sharing Marianne!


This was an excellent read! Thank you, for sharing some of the view points and knowledge by these two amazing people. I agree, surrendering to not knowing is a powerful practice & it allows us to actually receive! I often say 'show me something I currently do not know, to help facilitate a healing'. In moments of inquiry, I ask for help to discover something I currently do not see. Extraordinary occurrences take place in those moments & creates realms of expansion, that results in deep gratitude, and also lets me know there is just so much to become. It's very exciting! Imagination is another huge component, for me. It sparks my spirit and brings forth such beautiful & illuminating…

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