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30 Brilliant Insights from Mindfulness Trail Blazers

Draw inspiration from the top advocates and researchers of conscious living, who gathered together at Wisdom 2.0.

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This weekend some of the brightest minds in meditation, neuroscience, technology, and well-being met in San Francisco for Wisdom 2.0, a conference dedicated to the intersection of mindfulness, business, and personal growth. Over the course of the three-day gathering, pioneers of contemplative science and philosophy such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Roshi Joan Halifax, and Jack Kornfield shared their insights about compassionate, conscious living and the compelling science illustrating the outcomes of these practices. The thought leaders set the stage for conversation and connection between the 2,400 people in attendance, including community advocates, corporate leaders, and personal practitioners striving to enact change and further the dialogue about mindful living in their own spheres. Below is a collection of notable and moving quotations from the event to inspire your own self-exploration.

“If wakefulness is going to truly be transformative it is going to require all of us to fully flower in this lifetime.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine emeritus and creator of mindfulness-based stress reduction program at University of Massachusetts Medical Center

“Human beings come into the world with innate basic goodness… Infants as young as six months of age have a strong preference to look at altruistic and warmhearted encounters. There is evidence that other species demonstrate this too.” —Richard Davidson, Ph.D., professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and director of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior and the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience

“I’m just trying to be myself, whatever that means; and recognize how fleeting it all is, and what a love affair it all is.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

“What we’re sharing [in mindfulness practice] is an ability to be by oneself, to recognize the difference between being alone and being lonely. When we drop in the moment it is profoundly healing because silence and stillness are healing.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

“It’s what you are thinking and believing that is the cause of suffering, not the person, thing, outside object, or condition.” —Byron Katie, founder of The Work, a process of inquiry to help end suffering

“Qualities like kindness and compassion are like language; we need to be raised in a linguistic community in order for that biological propensity to develop. It may be very similar for compassion; the seeds are there from the start…we need a compassionate community for those seeds to flourish.” —Dr. Richard Davidson

“Some of the most crucial conversations are the ones we have with ourselves.” —Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self

“The poets are assigned the task of saying something meaningful that words can’t possibly express. All of this [self-inquiry] is poetry, and you are poetry.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Enter into the vividness of this moment and recognize suffering and see how you can end suffering in your life and in this world.” —Roshi Joan Halifax

“One of things that makes contemplative practice different from sports, music, etc., in its effects on the brain is that when we sit down on cushion or chair and engage in practice we invoke the intention that we do this not primarily for me, but rather, for benefit of others. Invoking that intention … is a radical act of generosity that is so fundamental to the context with which these practices first arose. This is variably preserved. Scientists need to study what invoking that intention in and of itself might do.” —Dr. Richard Davidson

“It starts with us. It’s about being present every day. Do the deep personal work; it’s fun, it’s powerful, it’s enlivening, it’s freeing. I’m 64 and I have more energy than when I was 24 and I know its because I’m shedding things that encumbered me. Practice every day. We matter and our voices matter.” —Eileen Fisher, fashion designer and founder of EILEEN FISHER

“Pain is where people pay attention. it’s a mistake for us to help alleviate people’s pain but to understand it, follow it, have some insight about where do we go next, and have tools where we can be more present. it’s the rugged environments that allow us to test how well we are able to stand in the middle of chaos.” —Michael Gervais, Ph.D., psychologist specializing in high performance and sports

“Travel is how I make a living, but stillness is how I make a life. Travel is how I decorate the house of my life, but stillness is how I lay the foundation.” —Pico Iyer, author of numerous books including The Art of Stillness

“I’m not concerned about life after death; what i’m most interested in is life before death. That is the curriculum as far as i’m concerned.” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Check your watch—it’s just amazing! It’s now again! It’s not even 10 to now, it’s now!” —Jon Kabat-Zinn

“Digital conversation has gotten us accustomed to edited life. It might be that unedited life is the most worth living.” —Sherry Turkle

“Think of who is sitting on the sidelines, because if we can include them, our conversations will be richer.” —Laura Powers, co-founder and CEO of CODE2040, a nonprofit that creates pathways to success in the innovation economy for blacks and latino/as

“Narcissism creates a really big split, in which we orient ourselves towards feeding the image of self instead of the real self.” —Alanis Morissette, singer-songwriter

“I’m too lazy to meditate and I’m too uncoordinated to do yoga, tai chi, or qi gong. If my wife were here she’d say all this guy ever does is meditate. As a writer we are paid to sit still, sift through the delusions and projections of our thoughts and find what is true.” —Pico Iyer

“For as long as space remains, and as long as beings remain, may I too remain and dispel the suffering of this world.” —Roshi Joan Halifax

“Humanity is internally about how we treat each other. It’s about respect, transparency, and being vulnerable.” —Martin Tracey, vice president of global talent at Starbucks

“Anything that is less than kind [in us] is false identification.” —Byron Katie

“Compassion is not religious business; it is human business. It is not a luxury; it is essential for our own peace and mental stability. It is essential for human survival.” —Dalai Lama

“Companies can’t buy engagement, but they can create the conditions for authenticity in the workplace.” —Golbie Kamarei, global program manager for BlackRock Capital’s Global Client and Sales Excellence Program

“People don’t last very long at EILEEN FISHER if they’re not kind.” —Eileen Fisher

“Take a breath and say this [racism] is part of humanity. We were born into a racist society and everybody is touched by it. It’s in us and therefore we actually have to acknowledge the way that it is and only then when we’ve done that the trauma whichever part of it you’re in…then you can get curious; then you can get quiet.” —Jack Kornfield, pioneering meditation teacher and author of multiple books including A Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology

“I love therapy. I would never have started my business without it.” —Eileen Fisher

“There are many kinds of prisons, including the ones we put ourselves in.” —Roshi Joan Halifax

“What if we could live life as if no one moment is more important than another, that’s how i see it at least.” —Soren Gordhamer, founder of Wisdom 2.0

“Well-being is not any different from learning to play the violin. If you practice you will get better.” —Dr. Richard Davidson

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