The Power of the Mind
“When the true mind is known, we will grasp its incredible potential”
(Venerable Master Hsing Yun)
We often seek external solutions to the problems faced in the modern world. And yet the answers to challenges such as isolation, fear and inequality could lie elsewhere – internally, in the mind.
You are invited to join this growing community for a one day exploration of the mind. What makes us tick? What tools can help us face the modern world? How do we unlock the power of our minds to effectively connect and create change for the better?
How can we do this together?
Bill Lovegrove AO
Professor Lovegrove has been President of the Nan Tien Institute since 2016. He was the Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Southern Queensland from 2003-2011. Before that he was the Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor at Griffith following appointments at the University of Wollongong as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research and International) and as Professor of Psychology.
He is an Emeritus Professor at both the Universities of Wollongong and Southern Queensland. He received his AO in 2017 for leadership in tertiary education, developing academia in regional areas and to cooperative research in various fields.
Professor Mario Fernando
Leading by caring: Authenticity for ‘right’ decision-making
Are you who you want to be? What is your Ideal Self? How can you be your Ideal Self? Through a discussion on leading by caring, we will try to develop an action plan on how we can use authenticity to become who we want to be.
Stories that we tell are eye opening, inspiring and encouraging. This workshop brings the Turning Points project and our Communities of Practice initiative together to help us communicate how we are responding and adapting to the modern crises. The gift is your story from first facing the challenge of modern crisis, experiencing the ah-ha moment of insight, and of going forth with a changed heart and mind. We will write our stories, and if so inclined, share them on the day and to the wider community.
Conflict transformation – using the power of the mind to harness our capacity to turn conflict into possibility and lead with wisdom
In our richly diverse and interdependent world, differences of experience and opinion are unavoidable. What matters is how we work with these conflicting energies both within ourselves and with others. How do we harness the deep innate clarity of our minds so that habitual tendencies to fight, flight or freeze don’t take over first? In this experiential workshop, we will explore our potential to act mindfully, communicate compassionately and develop reliable skills in challenging circumstances – whether at work, home or in our community – so as to lead ourselves and others with wisdom.
Professor Stephen Hill AM
Using the Power of the Mind to Care: Basis of a Resilient Community
In guiding discussion I intend to anchor this theme in my own sociological understanding of the self and meaning as social constructs, together with my current work with colleagues in Kyoto on asserting humanity as the necessary 21st Century platform for ‘sustainable’ global economics and society – for which the central role of social connectedness and community resilience are essential. Capturing ‘the power of the mind’ to ‘care’ is the foundation for effective action.
Dr Jane Qiu
Mindfulness at work: benefits, risk, sacrifice and solutions
Mindfulness practice is increasingly adopted by businesses but little is known about the potential challenges of such practice. This workshop invites you to discuss topics such as: Is the “mindfulness mode” (focusing on the present moment, letting go, and compassion for others) compatible with the “workplaces mode” (endless planning for the future, constant tracking of individual KPIs, and being obsessed with competition with others)? What can we do when we are stuck in between the two modes? Do we need to sacrifice one for the other? What are the solutions for us to more effectively integrate mindfulness practice AND spirit with our career?
Professor David Rooney
Aligning Values with Behaviour
Many of us acknowledge the problems associated with enacting our values and any gaps between what we believe is right and how we act in specific situations. We can become better at aligning our behaviours with our values. In this session we will explore ways of doing this by understanding how our subconsciously held system of values, assumption, and habits shape our behaviour and how mindfulness can enable us to access that subconscious system to change it and to create new values-driven habits.
Venerable Dr Juewei
An Invitation to Kindness and Self-Discipline
Have you ever wished that you were kinder to yourself, people near you, or Mother Earth? Have you felt that theory is easier than practice? The Buddha taught a form of prajñā wisdom using reflection. In this workshop, we will explore this form of wisdom to help us unveil the power of our mind using daily episodes, from the inside out, so that we can gain insight into our true nature. We will develop action plans to nurture a kindness habit loop and use self-discipline to automate our willpower for transformation. Let us together build the habit of kindness while we can.
Worries and anxiety are signs of the modern times.
The purpose of meditation is to gain clarity, observe and untie the knots that make us anxious. Emotions arise which are all normal and part of being human.
Mindfulness is to be present in the moment and the practice allows us to be in touch with our thoughts and feelings, and understand that they will pass and change. There is nothing to fear, and the practice will strengthen and empower us on the journey of self discovery and healing.
On Mario Fernando’s “Leading by caring: Authenticity for ‘right’ decision-making”
How do you find your authentic self? This is a question that workshop facilitator Dr. Mario Fernando has deeply pondered. Early in his career, he was highly successful on paper but did not feel that he was living an authentic life. He had quickly risen to a high executive position and was praised for his hard work, but he was not present for his family, felt dissatisfied, was not doing work he truly enjoyed, and was oftentimes forced to make decisions that did not align with his values. In other words, he did not feel he was living authentically. Drawing on self-discrepancy theory, Dr. Fernando explained how there was a gap between his actual self and his ideal self. He then described two tools that can be used to close the gap between the actual self and ideal self. First, identify your core values. And second, use mindfulness practice to gain awareness of the things that are preventing you from acting on your values.
In the workshop, participants were given an opportunity to reflect on their core values and to engage in a guided meditation session. Closing with his own story, Dr. Fernando said he ultimately used these two tools to re-evaluate his life, step away from a toxic job, and pursue a career in academia that felt truly authentic.
On Tom Halbert’s “Turning Points”
In this session Tom broke down the essentials of what makes up a turning point story. He presented a cycle that occurs (simplified from Joseph Campbell’s 12 elements of a Journey), which began with a challenge, to an A-HA! Moment, the turning point and then, moving forth. An interesting concept that was introduced was the concept that an individual’s wisdom or the dharma they have learnt feeds into the loop and leads to people experiencing the a-ha! moment.
So as someone who has had one of these moments, how do you then express these stories so that others can understand them simply and gain from them?
When telling a story, keep it simple, like a haiku that captures the essence or the heart of the story. We also have to understand that each person has a telling threshold – that is, each person has a threshold for sharing and how much their willing to share about their own experiences. In order to share our stories we need to overcome the reasons for why we don’t share. To list a few ways to overcome these would be perceiving sharing as a form of practicing giving, realising that our individual stories may benefit others or that by sharing, we help ourselves breakdown and further understand what we experienced and in some cases, results in another a-ha moment.
A practical exercise we undertook to open the group to sharing was a short meditation session led by Tom, where he invited us all to let everything go from our minds, to create the space to allow any stories or narratives to come to mind.
From this space, we shared in pairs and as a group, resulting in various types of stories and accepting that each individual could be at a different stages of their a-ha moment cycle (including not having had one yet).
Through discussion about the sharing process, we found the following range of thoughts and feelings were experienced by the group: Serendipity; a sense of consolidation through stories; A realisation that this process has the possibility to result in “aha” moments; it represented a time for introspection and learning about oneself; meditation allowed us to observe what bubbles up in our own minds and an appreciation of life.
On Meg Hart’s “Conflict transformation – using the power of the mind to harness our capacity to turn conflict into possibility and lead with wisdom”
The focus of this workshop was for the participants to discover, how by using the power of the mind it is possible to harness our potential to turn conflict into possibility, and in doing so, grow wisdom through acting with compassion towards others. The workshop’s facilitator, Ms Meg Hart, first drew participants’ attention to the reactive nature of how we so often interact with others, so leading to conflict. She then proposed an alternative option of how it is possible to harness the innate clarity of our minds to avoid this happening. With a toolkit Ms Hart provided, each participant then mapped the essence of how a recalled personal conflict experience might have been otherwise handled, and a “growing possibility” instead realised. Here are just a few examples of the numerable instances of wisdom gained from the exercise: “I cannot change other people. I can only change myself”; “The most difficult person in my life, is my best teacher”; and “Be mindful of the danger of losing my compassion”.
On David Rooney’s “Aligning Values with Behaviour”
The workshop was designed to challenge participants to select and investigate the apparent gap that exists in most of our lives between two activities – ’thinking my values’ and ‘doing my values’.
From engaging with this ‘gap’ under David’s coaching participants considered how value habits are learned and how you could become more aware of your value habits by ‘drilling down’ from our thinking to our doing. For example from the thought ‘I am generous’ I can consider in doing terms am I generous with my knowledge, my money, my time, my love or my labour. This process can be repeated for all the values we think we have.
<br/ >We discussed how we could reduce the Gap in our personal lives by sharing our plans to act. Four intentions that were shared by participants concerned reducing their gap by:
- be more realistic about my surroundings and relationships;
- listening more often to others;
- be more forgiving; and
- be more connected with more people.
On Mario Fernando’s Towards a culture of compassion through authentic responsibility
Venerable Juewei lead us through the exploration of kindness and self discipline in her workshop. According to Buddhism, kindness is innate, it is our Buddha nature. How do we cultivate it to allow for it to fully express in our daily life? Kindness beats kindness, yet the ultimate test is when conditions are not that favourable or challenging, how do we still cultivate kindness? This is where self-discipline, and practice come into play.
Participants were invited to share an act of kindness they have done in the past week, starting a log of such acts. The exercise was designed to demonstrate how we gain faith that we can do it through a daily log of acts of kindness. Participants were then invited to pick a challenging situation, and vow to bring kindness to it, and to do so, first identify the obstacles to kindness, and then actions to take to overcome them. These three exercises form a virtuous circle of faith, vow, and practice. Out of the group reflections, it emerged that kindness starts with oneself for a solid base to extend it to family, friends and the broader community of colleagues, neighbours and fellow citizens.
Another insight that came out of the group reflections was that there are times when actions, and speech cannot be used as they only fuel more conflict, and what is left are thoughts. The foundation of all plans was mindfulness. Interestingly, through their shared reflections, the group came together strongly and a tangible sense of solidarity and warmth could be felt by the end of the session that prompted us to take a group picture. Discussing kindness created a bond between all of us.
On Stephen Hill: Using the Power of the Mind to Care – Basis of a Resilient Community
In this workshop, facilitator Dr. Stephen Hill guided a conversation about how we can refine our minds to build a more resilient society. In recent history, society has grown increasingly fragmented and self-centered. Dr. Hill explained that we have a self-oriented society, and that everything from our infrastructure and social constructs prevent us from developing community. As social researcher Hugh Mackay famously says, “We used to live in a society. Now we live in an economy.” The explosion of social media, which reinforces narcissistic values and social isolation, only exacerbates the effects of this self-centered economy. In this workshop, we talked about how we can use mindfulness to recognize this “grammar of greed” in our lives and stop it from controlling our every action. By employing mindfulness meditation, we can become more aware of our internal mental processes as well as our external relations with others and the greater community. By strengthening our minds through meditative practice, we can get involved in our towns and neighborhoods with more intention and care and ultimately shape more resilient communities