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Lions Roar : July 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 89 program. “In the first year, I lived in fear that I would be dis- covered for doing this and taken away in chains. So I just told corporate people that we were doing an experiment and gath- ering data, which we were, and are,” Pierce says. “Now my de- partment is No. 2 in the compa- ny in employee satisfaction, and in 2009 Computerworld rated our IT department No. 2 in their listing of best places to work.” Weiss explains that the pro- gram begins by asking each person to pick a skill (for ex- ample, listening, giving feedback, delegation, work–life balance) and a quality (decisiveness, calmness, courageousness, receptive- ness) they would like to develop. “It’s important,” she says, “that we start with people’s genuine motivation, from their heart. We want them to tap into their intrinsic motivation, rather than what the company or their boss wants them to work on.” Pierce adds that the approach is deliberately counterintuitive. “In normal organizational life,” he says, “we define the problem and go get the solution as fast as we can. I want this program to force people to slow down and discover what’s deeply meaning- ful to them—not just at work but in their entire life. I’ve had to tell bosses to stop performance coaching people and give them the space to find out what is really happening with themselves.” The core of the program—and what makes it mindfulness- based—is a three-center check-in practice. The basic practice, Weiss says, is to pause and turn your attention inward to notice: In my head center: what am I thinking? In my heart center: what am I feeling? In my body center: what am I sensing? “We meet once a month,” she says, “and after people have been chit-chatting for a while, we do the three-center check-in. Right away, the quality of the conversation changes. You can just hear it go vroop, dropping into something more authentic.” The check- in is also a practice that participants use throughout the month to observe and “gather first-person data” on, for example, what they were thinking, feeling, and sensing when they were listening well, less well, or very poorly. Having discussed their aspirations with the group, they report back on their observations. As a result, Weiss says, people have intimate insights about themselves that they can use, with the help of others in the group, to develop new behavior. “This is a living, breathing kind of mindfulness, one that’s cultivated in dynamic, interac- tive, real-life contexts. I would not have believed that people could effect this kind of change without doing a lot of deep dharma practice, but I have seen this have a strong im- pact on the whole of the organization. And we have people continuing to participate in our mindfulness programs. We have eighteen people signed up to do a three-day silent retreat.” AS A TEENAGER growing up in Lubbock, Texas, Soren Gord- hamer felt cut off from the places where meditation was being taught and retreats were happening. “It was technology that con- nected me to dharma, to wisdom teachings,” he says. “In those days, I was listening to tapes, but the point is, people were able to teach me at a distance. I’ve never forgotten that. And with the web and social networking, the experience of shared wisdom has just become richer and richer.” For Gordhamer, Wisdom 2.0 is about how new media makes it possible for more people to be exposed to teachings about mind-and-body awareness in in- creasingly interactive and dynamic ways. That’s why he invited Tami Simon, founder of Sounds True, a multimedia publishing company in Louisville, Colorado, to participate in Wisdom 2.0. Sounds True made its mark selling tapes and then CDs, but almost overnight that world has been transformed by the smart phone. “Now people are holding in their hand a kind of mail- box that has more interesting mail than they’ll ever receive at home—phone messages, text messages, a whole new mix of news and information, and it’s also a stereo and a television,” Simon says. For many people, particularly in parts of the world such as Asia and Africa that never adopted the laptop on a wide scale, the smart phone has become the universal interface with the world. Compared with distributing teachings and instruc- tions through physical media, she says, “making downloads through phone apps is incredibly efficient and effective. We can reach many more people throughout the world than we could through previous means.” Simon, like Gordhamer, is also encouraged by the rise of two- way communication media. “For our first twenty-five years, we were a one-way street—we sent out messages from our teachers. Now we are hosting online interactive teaching sessions, which are economical with as few as a hundred participants. It’s power- ful when teachings are interactive on a large scale, when a teacher is on stage in California and interacting with people from dozens of countries across the world. Real transmission definitely takes Wisdom 2.0 continued from page 43 It’s very powerful when teachings are interactive on a large scale, when a teacher is interacting with people across the world. Real transmission definitely takes place. It’s very rich and nuanced. TAMI SIMON, FOUNDER, SOUNDS TRUE PHOTOBYANDREWYOUNG