Wisdom 2.0 San Francisco: Gathering In Community To Find A Path Forward
Cover Photo By Aniket Deole
By Rachel Nichols
Life on our planet lately has been pretty wild. With technology advancing faster than ever, it may seem like we are all more connected—because we are to our devices at least—but the truth is that many people are becoming increasingly disconnected. We can find out what our friends are up to by logging onto social media rather than getting together for dinner to catch up; we can order our groceries and have them delivered straight to our doorstep without speaking to a single human being; we stay later at work and spend less time with our friends and families (and ourselves, really) in the name of achieving more (but for what?); and the list goes on.
So in today’s world driven by technology and the pursuit to do more, how do we find a path forward that feels good? How do we find collective liberation and transformation in a world that feels like it’s becoming more divided? Several dozen speakers and teachers along with 3,000 people in attendance from more than 30 countries explored these questions at this year’s Wisdom 2.0, an annual conference held in San Francisco that explores the intersection of wisdom and technology.
Wisdom 2.0, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, focused on the transformation needed in business, technology, politics and society to create a world that is not only livable, but one where humans can thrive. We heard from wisdom teachers, changemakers, scientists and leaders in technology. Speakers included renowned mindfulness teacher Jack Kornfield, neuropsychiatrist and author Dr. Dan Siegel, relationship experts Dr. John and Julie Gottman, storyteller and viral content creator Jay Shetty and even comedian and producer Chelsea Handler, who completely flipped her script and showed us a majorly vulnerable side of herself (her sweet interview with Wisdom 2.0 founder Soren Gordhamer will be posted on the Wisdom 2.0 website in the coming months, so be sure to keep an eye out!). There were too many incredible speakers to name them all, really.
One of my favorite things about Wisdom 2.0 is that at any given time there are so many experiences to choose from. Between the Main Stage, Q&A Stage, breakout rooms, roundtable discussions with topics chosen by attendees and spaces dedicated to movement and various practices, it wasn’t always easy to decide where to go next. First world problems, right? Or what a former boss of mine calls A Good Problem to Have. With that said, here are some of SF Yoga Mag’s favorite moments, experiences and takeaways at the 10-year anniversary of Wisdom 2.0.
Connecting with Conscious Community
There are countless ways to conveniently consume information these days, whether through podcasts, webinars or YouTube. I personally love learning and hearing new perspectives through these online resources from the comfort of my home, on my commute or on a hike. But there is nothing like attending an event, especially a conscious community-focused event, IRL (yes, in real life!) No matter your reason for attending Wisdom, the conference is a great place to network with curious, conscious and purpose-driven community. I connected with so many passionate people who want to make a difference in the world in a big way. Talk about an inspiring, empowering and connecting weekend!
Additionally, on Saturday night, after day two of the conference, Wisdom 2.0 threw an amazing networking party with small bites, a kombuha bar, oracle readers and more for attendees to gather, network and move our bodies. It was wonderful to dance, relax and unwind with both old and new friends and release our days through conscious connection. I even ran into a woman who I met several months ago in a field of dahlias up in Sonoma County. She was pouring samples of her healing elixirs at the party, which she had told me about when I met her in the flower field months earlier. I finally got to try her amazingly delicious elixirs and we made plans to get together again and continue on with our serendipitous conversation that we began that evening. I love the endless possibilities for connection and reconnection at events like Wisdom 2.0—something I don’t get while listening to a podcast or logging onto a webinar from my couch.
Where Spirituality Meets Science
Spirituality has played a leading role in my life since my early 20s. Studying spirituality and consciousness as well as engaging in practices like yoga, meditation and diving into my inner landscape have helped me through many of life’s ups and downs and has led to incredible personal growth over the years. While I am not one to need science to confirm the ideas of spirituality, I am continually fascinated by those who are studying the intersection of both.
Dr. Dan Siegel is one such human who researches this intersection. He spoke on the opening night of Wisdom 2.0 and was also on stage several other times throughout the weekend. I loved hearing his research about Mindsight, which is, according to the Mindsight Institute website, “a term coined by Siegel to describe our human capacity to perceive the mind of the self and others. It is a powerful lens through which we can understand our inner lives with more clarity, integrate the brain, and enhance our relationships with others. Mindsight is a kind of focused attention that allows us to see the internal workings of our own minds. It helps us get ourselves off of the autopilot of ingrained behaviors and habitual responses. It lets us ‘name and tame’ the emotions we are experiencing, rather than being overwhelmed by them.”
There is all kinds of science that Dr. Siegal referenced in his talks at Wisdom, but in short and to put it simply, it’s really all about “MWe”—you and I are more than simply a me and a we. We are MWe—an integrated way of being in the world. And why is integration important? Because integration leads to more compassion and empathic joy. And we can always use more of that.
Using Meditation to Digest Our Karma
Thomas Hübl, a contemporary spiritual teacher and founder of the Academy of Inner Science, integrates the core insights of the great wisdom traditions with the discoveries of contemporary science, and shared some of his wisdom with us at the conference this year, which touched on healing personal and collective trauma. Technology is two-fold, Hübl said. We have access to so much learning but we also have access to more trauma, which has a huge impact on us—more than we realize. Trauma work, he said, is the only way to heal our world. After his inspiring talk on the Main Stage, I was so moved that I decided to head over to his meditation in the Practice Room. The room was packed, so I clearly wasn’t the only one moved by his earlier presentation.
In the Practice Room, Hübl led us through a meditation centered around healing trauma. “In meditation, we are digesting our karama,” he said. Spirituality shows us the real world—the congruence between the inside and the outside, not the ideal world. The guided meditation was beautiful, gentle and grounding, and seemed to completely shift the energy in the packed room. After a few days of listening, learning and networking, this meditation was just what I needed on Sunday afternoon. And Hübl’s message of healing our trauma so we can heal the world resonated with me very much—it’s something I have been personally working on over the last few years.
Take Small Steps Toward What’s Uncomfortable
Take small steps toward what’s uncomfortable. Those were actually the words that Wisdom 2.0 founder Soren Gordhamer offered up to all of us at the end of his interview with Chelsea Handler on the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon. The interview with Chelsea was inspiring and touching, as she opened up and showed us a side of her the public is not familiar with. Soren was echoing the advice that she left the audience with: “Go wherever you don’t want to go. Whatever makes you uncomfortable, go there!” Which is exactly what Chelsea has been doing more recently, come to find out.
Chelsea spoke openly about her personal dark night of the soul journey and unresolved childhood experiences that led her to where she is today. She shared with us that she has been working with fellow Wisdom 2.0 speaker Dr. Dan Siegel, who she hired as her psychiatrist as she began down the path to healing. Chelsea’s interview can be summed up by one of the first things she said: “If I want to make a meaningful contribution to society, I have to fix my inner injuries.” To see a high profile celebrity get vulnerable, take personal responsibility for her wounds and aim to use her influence to make a more meaningful impact was both moving and empowering.
As mentioned earlier, Chelsea’s presentation will be posted on the Wisdom website, and I highly recommend checking it out. To get notified when Chelsea’s and other Main Stage presentations at Wisdom 2.0 get posted, visit wisdom2conference.com and join the mailing list. Presentations will be posted in the coming months.
So What is the Path Forward?
Take small steps toward what’s uncomfortable, like Soren said. Go wherever you don’t want to go; whatever makes you uncomfortable, go there, like Chelsea said. Learn to “name and tame” the emotions we are experiencing, rather than being overwhelmed by them, so we can find more compassion and empathetic joy, like Dr. Dan Siegel said. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. The path forward is about “MWe,” where love, interconnectedness and awareness all derive from the same energy state. And we get there by taking personal responsibility to first heal ourselves and digest our karma, so we can get out of our own way and help to heal the world.
To learn more about Wisdom 2.0 visit: wisdom2conference.com.