The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

How meditation changes your world — March 30, 2014

How meditation changes your world

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As technology has become deeply intertwined in all aspects of our lives, it’s become increasingly more difficult to find space in between each moment. Dr Elise Bialylew talks to us about how mindfulness can change your life and the lives of others through her innovative fundraising challenge, Mindful in May.

Technology is developing exponentially, and at the click of a button we can access an infinite amount of information. With this privilege, comes the potential cost of information overload, increased distractibility and low-grade background anxiety as we try to keep on top of things.

With invisible umbilical cords connecting us to our devices, staying focused is an increasing challenge. Our attention buzzes around with the restlessness of a mosquito fluttering between, emails, Facebook, Twitter, and text messages. Many of us are suffering from what Dr. Ed Hallowell, specialist psychiatrist in ADHD, coined as Attention Deficit Trait. He describes it as “a condition induced by modern life, in which you’ve become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless and, over the long term, underachieving. In other words, it costs you efficiency because you’re doing so much or trying to do so much, it’s as if you’re juggling one more ball than you possibly can.”

If we wish to remain healthy, happy and clear-minded we need to upgrade our “inner technology” to meet the demands of our increasingly complex world.

We are standing on the precipice of a potential paradigm shift with an exciting dialogue unfolding at the intersection of science, technology and the world of wisdom. Leaders in the field of science, technology and meditation are coming together at extraordinary gatherings like Wisdom 2.0 conference or the Mind and Life institute, to explore how we can bring more mindfulness into the digital age. There is a rapid growth of scientific research, revealing what the Buddhist monks have known for generations but couldn’t measure with machines: Meditation is a powerful tool for enhanced well-being and mental focus. Meditation teaches us how to use our inner technology to understand the workings of the mind and in so doing re-sculpt our brains for the better.

Meditation is not about becoming passive or giving up on your goals or future plans. In fact, it’s a perfect companion to developing your capacity to think more clearly, be more effective and find wiser solutions to challenging problems.

Leading companies in the world, including Google are offering mindfulness training to their employees, recognizing the benefits of meditation in supporting more clarity, innovation and productivity.

Science is supporting the fact that just two months of regular mindfulness meditation can have  significant benefits. When regularly practiced, meditation has been shown to increase our immune function, grow our prefrontal cortex (required for strategic thinking and problem solving), and possibly even protect against DNA damage caused by ageing (through increasing a protective enzyme, Telomerase).

To really benefit from meditation, the problem is you actually have to do it. Meditation commonly falls by the wayside for even the most enthusiastic amongst us. Just like physical exercise, bringing a habit of regular meditation into your life can be quite a challenge. So often it seems like there’s not enough time or we just “don’t feel like doing it”. The thing is there is research to suggest that even 10 minutes of meditation, five days a week can improve our attention and focus.

Sometimes we need support to follow through on our intentions. Having the support of others or doing something that helps us feel we’re making a meaningful difference in the world, can boost our motivation. This logic has fueled the creation  of Mindful in May, a one-month meditation campaign starting on May 1. Delivered online, it will teach you how to meditate and at the same time help bring clean water to those in developing countries. To date the Mindful in May global community has raised enough money to build water projects in Ethiopia and Rwanda helping transform the lives of thousands of people. You’ll get a one month meditation program including 10-minute guided meditations on a weekly basis, access to exclusive video interviews with global experts in the field of meditation, mind wellbeing and a daily dose of inspiration through curated internet links.

In the developed world most of us have our survival needs met, but it’s our minds that can cause so much of our suffering. The World Health Organization predicts that depression will be the second-leading cause of global disability burden by 2020. In the developing world, its something as basic as a lack of access to clean, safe water that causes so much suffering. Contaminated water is still one of the leading causes of disease and death in the developing world. Mindful in May addresses both of these issues by offering people a way to learn how to become masters rather than slaves to their minds, whilst helping to improve the lives of thousands of people living without access to safe drinking water. It’s ten minutes a day of meditation to create a clear mind for you and clean water for others.

The challenge starts on May 1 so register, donate and invite your friends or colleagues to create a meditation fundraising team to help bring clean water to those in need. Together, let’s see how far we can spread this Mindful Ripple.

 

About our contributor // Elise Bialylew is a doctor, coach and founder of Mindful in May, a one month online global mindfulness meditation campaign. Mindful in May has inspired thousands of people around the world to learn how to meditate, whilst raising money to build clean water wells in the developing world. www.mindfulinmay.org

Image credit: Rafaël Rozendaal

 

Thanks To This Week’s Advertisers — April 26, 2013

Thanks To This Week’s Advertisers

Let’s hear it for this week’s advertisers:

  • Anchor. Providing a unique hosting solution. They manage the entire application stack taking responsibility for everything between the operating system and your code. Think of them as your own team of systems administrators.
  • bwired, presenting a (free!) Google Analytics and Adwords seminar in Prahran, VIC on May 8. Key focus is maximising return on your investment. Presented by Head of Services and Google Adwords Professional Jason Healey. Bring your questions! Register here.
  • ExactTarget, bringing the 2013 ExactTarget CONNECT Global Tour to Sydney on May 15.
  • Loves Data, presenting the Google Analytics User Conference in Sydney on June 19, and Melbourne on June 21.
  • Mindful In May. Sharpen your focus and change the world. Sign up and donate to the global meditation challenge bringing clean water to the developing world. Over 1000 people will be meditating this May. Clear mind for you, Clean water for others. Events in Melbourne and Sydney HERE.
  • Pause Fest Perth. Curiosity ignites progress. Register for this (free!) event for April 26-28.
  • Web Directions. Developers, developers, developers: JavaScript, HTML5, CSS. Learn directly from the most original experts in the field. Explore and share with your peers at this two day “Code Festival”. Use FETCHBRISBANE to take $100 off.

Interested in advertising on The Fetch? Check out the options here. If you’d like more details or would simply like to chat about how we can assist you, please email advertise@thefetch.com.

Event preview: Wisdom 2.0 Live Stream — February 23, 2013

Event preview: Wisdom 2.0 Live Stream

Wisdom_2.0Wisdom 2.0 Conference in 2012

My fascination with human beings led me to pursue a career in psychiatry. At medical school I remember holding the brain of a cadaver in my hands and wondering how the multitude of human emotion and thought could be contained within a kilogram of white and grey matter. Recently, I was reminded of this while watching a short film Brain Power by Tiffany Shlain, who states that there are more synaptic connections in a babies brain than connections throughout the entire internet.

Connecting with ourselves, each other and the world, in a meaningful, compassionate way is key to our thriving. So when I discovered the Wisdom 2.0 Conference, a tech-meets mindfulness conference that explores conscious connecting, I knew I had to be there.

At a time where invisible umbilical cords attach us to our smartphones, the question of where the boundaries of self-identity are in a super-connected world becomes fascinating. At a recent Creative Innovation Conference in Melbourne, Ray Kurzweil, controversial American futurist and inventor stated, “The biological you is no more you, than the technological you.” This idea was voiced decades ago in a more Buddhist light by philosopher Alan Watts who suggested “The ‘you’ who you think you are, does not exist”. It’s a paradigm shift, but as technology progresses and becomes embedded in our clothes, our retinas, our blood cells, and our brains, we will inevitably need to make sense of what it means to be human in a world where technology is part of us.

We are still locked into thinking that we are separate from our technology.

My partner tells me I never put my phone down.

In the not too distant future, that might become as ludicrous as telling me off for “always carrying those dam hands around with me”. Has the mobile phone become an appendage that is so inextricably linked to us, it actually is us? Ray Kurzweil recounted a conversation with a Parkinson’s patient who had a computer chip implanted in his brain to help alleviate his movement difficulties. He asked the man whether he considered the chip to be a part of himself. The man was stumped.

Technology and information are developing exponentially, and we need to shift our thinking from linear to exponential to imagine our future possibilities.

With an infinite amount of information at the click of a button, our capacity to focus, discern and pay attention is becoming a survival necessity. As Ray Kurzweil describes we’re living in a time where “a child in Africa with a smartphone, has more access to information than the president of the United States did fifteen years ago”.

If we cultivate wisdom in the area of technology, there’ll be better odds that future technology will be infused with wisdom and support our thriving on the planet. As Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired Magazine states “Humans are the reproductive organs of technology”. Therefore, the wiser the human, the wiser the technology. We may be creating technology, but according to Ray Kurzweil, there will be a point in time when technology becomes smarter than its creator – he calls it the singularity. He predicts we will arrive at a point where technology becomes so sophisticated, it enables the creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.

I hope to expand my thinking this week at wisdom 2.0 and hear from some of the world’s leading thinkers about how as a species, we can ensure that we flourish rather than fade away in this age of technology.

Wisdom 2.0 conference will be livestreaming between Feb 21-24 at http://wisdom2summit.com/Live-Stream

About our ambassador // Dr Elise Bialylew is the founder of Mindful in May, a one month mindfulness meditation challenge to support people to learn about the benefits of mindfulness and help raise money to bring clean water to the developing world. Follow @mindfulinmay. Clear mind for you, clean water for others.

Book Review: The $100 Startup: The rise of the roaming entrepreneur — November 25, 2012

Book Review: The $100 Startup: The rise of the roaming entrepreneur

This week, we’re pleased to kick-off our first book review for The Fetch Blog. Thanks Elise Bialylew for this gem…

If you’ve been dreaming of launching that new business and living the location independent lifestyle, The $100 Startup by New York Times bestselling author Chris Guillebeau is your perfect companion. Chris is an impressive entrepreneur who has spent the past five years writing about his quest to visit every country in the world before he turns 35. His popular blog, The Art of Non Conformity, has become a successful six-figure online business and a vortex for freedom-seeking, conscious, community lovers from across the globe.

The $100 Startup is like a Lonely Planet guidebook for entrepreneurialism. With a collection of inspiring stories and specific roadmaps, it guides the reader in navigating a path from idea to business execution on a shoestring budget. Chris discusses the key to “the quest for personal freedom [as being] through the pursuit of value for others,” emphasising the need for convergence between matching your passion with something that someone else would pay for.

He flirtatiously warns his readers that “There is no rehab program for being addicted to freedom. Once you’ve seen what it’s like on the other side, good luck trying to follow someone else’s rules ever again.”

Throughout the book there are diverse stories of micro-entrepreneurs who have found their way to success through different routes. Whether choosing to leave a soul suffocating corporate job or being made redundant, each story is inspiring in its trajectory. A particularly inspiring interview describes Brett Kelly, a man who was struggling to financially support his family and noticed an opportunity in the market place. He realised that there was no existing manual for the Apple Mac Evernote program and within a few months developed one himself. He published it as an ebook and made $120,000 on its sales which led to a phone call from the CEO of Evernote offering him a lucrative position in the company. The book emphasises the importance of paying attention to opportunities that exist in our rapidly changing environment and bringing ideas into action to allow serendipity to amplify one’s possibilities.

The book is in many ways the manifestation of a movement, evidenced by the annual World Domination Summit (WDS) hosted by Chris Guillebeau’s in his hometown, Portland. It is a conference founded by Chris and aimed at those who are interested in living “remarkable lives in a conventional world”. This year the keynote speakers ranged from Jonathan Fields, writer-entrepreneur, to Scott Harrison founder of Charity Water. In its second year, WDS sold out within hours of its online ticket sales with waiting lists already in place for next years event in July 2013.

Committed to contributing to the world and sharing the business lessons he has learned, Chris motivates people from all over the globe to action their ideas and embrace mistakes as a necessary part of the learning.

This year at WDS, after receiving an anonymous donation of $100,000, Chris decided to generously “invest” in each attendee by giving us one hundred dollars and inviting us to spend it how we wished. Leaving the conference with a free copy of the $100 Startup and a one hundred dollar bill in my hand, I reflected on his gesture as both an ingenius marketing strategy and a brilliant way of conveying his underlying message:

There are no excuses for not starting. Take action now.

About our Ambassador // Elise Bialylew is a multi-passionate, curiosity driven, doctor, writer, documentary filmmaker, dancer, humanitarian, philanthropist, connector and the founder of Mindful in May. Follow her on Twitter @meditatecreate.

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