Reflecting on this Year’s Wisdom 2.0

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We’ve been part of the fabric of Wisdom 2.0 for many years now. By fabric, I mean it’s essence, which includes the community, the physical event in San Francisco they hold once a year and their mission. The combination is the winning sum of its parts. Without an essence you can feel, taste and rest into, you can’t have a powerful experience, whether it’s an on or offline event. Without community, quite frankly . . . you have nothing. And without a mission (or rather vision) that you resonate with and feel aligned to, you lack the vital integrity match which is necessary when it comes to what I see as a collective risinga community who helps bring that vision forward into the world.
Wisdom 2.0

The audience at Wisdom 2.0

For things to soar and I mean consistently soar year after year, you need a community who believes in what you originally set out to do and hopefully continue to do. I‘ve been going to Wisdom 2.0 for nearly a decade and what initially brought me there was bringing consciousness to the technology industry and other sectors. Their commitment is to address the overlap between living connected to one another through technology and consciousness. In other words, doing so in ways that are beneficial to our own well-being, effective in our work, and useful to the world.

Last year, they had OPENAI CEO, Sam Altman on stage, but also people like Jack Kornfeld, Yung Pueblo, trauma expert Gabor Maté, Byron Katie, Dr. Lyla June Johnston, Rhonda Magee, Alex Senegal, Mohammed Mohammed, Chip Conley, MAPS founder Rick Doblin and more.

This Year’s Wisdom 2.0

This year, Deepak Chopra, meditation master Jon Kabat-Zinn, #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke, V (formally Eve Ensler), Roshi Joan Halifax, and founder of internal family systems (IFS) Dr.Richard Schwartz were among the speakers on the main stage. V. Pappas also addressed social media and its impact on people, especially the youth. She shared lessons learned from Tik Tok as the former COO and how we can manage it for ourselves and our kids.

V. Pappas with Soren on the main Wisdom 2.0 stage

Alanis Morrissette also joined us for a conversation in a fireside chat style format with Wisdom 2.0 host Soren Gordhamer. As much as I had hoped for a song or two as well as her insights, music wasn’t on the table at this year’s event. She shared her wisdom and also her own best practices for personal growth and healing, which included how to stay grounded as a singer, but also as a mother. I loved her authentic voice.

She shared that as an empath, navigating the landscape can be challenging, but realizing it is a great start to know what to do to take care of yourself along the way, rather than shove the hiccups under the carpet as so many do. It’s hard to be a changemaker and a leader but making the commitment to show up is a big part of it and her showing up on a very different stage like Wisdom 2.0 demonstrated that to all of us.

I’m not new to Deepak Chopra‘s work or voice. Not only have I heard him speak a couple dozen times over the years at live events, but I‘ve read over half of his books. Sometimes his talks have been a bit heady or dense for me; however, clarity hit me in all directions when he graced the stage with his presence this year. The focus? Similarities and overlapping paradigms between science and spirituality, one of my favorite topics.

Without getting too technical or going down the quantum physics rabbit hole, he made some interesting parallel observations between Quantum Mechanics and what he referred to as Quantum Consciousness in his talk. The most interesting one he raised was The Superposition Principle, which suggests that the “system can be in a state that is a combination of two or more other states.” On the side of Quantum Consciousness, he says that “all mental events exist in superposition and entanglement with sensations, images, feelings and thoughts. Potential mental events exist in multiple states until actualized as experience.”

He also explained how each side starts with fundamental assumptions. For example, science starts with matter is the “ontological primitive of existence, where as consciousness is the starting point” for those who turn to spirituality for understanding our existence.

“All mental events exist in superposition and entanglement with sensations, images, feelings and thoughts. Potential mental events exist in multiple states until actualized as experience.” —Deepak Chopra (April 2024)

For those who share the materialist view, then matter produces mind, but from the world of spirituality, then mind and matter (brain, body and world) are actually “complementary activities of awareness.” He asserts that “awareness modifies itself as cognition and perception.” Despite the fact that I grew up respecting science over spirituality, at least when it comes to understanding humanity’s very existence, his references to Advaita Vedanta/Shaivism made much more sense to me, intuitively that is.

Science looks for consistent proof—repeated proof—over and over again. It only takes into account experience in that repeated context, although for those of us who have had repeated experiences that we can’t explain—and nor can science explain—it feels, tastes and sounds more true than what data often points to. Ultimately this leads us to something that masters across traditions often come to at the end of the day, and that Deepak brought up on one of his slides: “The theater of spacetime and causality is an illusion/simulation in non-local awareness (Maya).” I’d argue that this perceived illusion is what keeps separateness in play and so has Ram Das and many other spiritual masters.

It seemed like a great overview given how diverse the Wisdom 2.0 attendees were, some coming in from other continents as well as other parts of the U.S. We need to continue this dialogue, as mind-bending it as it may be for some. There’s far too much new research pointing us toward the beautiful interconnected web of life (as energy) that we all share, something many of our indigenous ancestors have known for millennia and beyond.

Although Gabor didn’t speak this year, the trauma discussion continued. Iya Affo, who we interviewed for our video series on Trauma (not yet live) was on-stage and continued the dialogue at a Q&A later in the day which I attended. She reminds us that if we don’t understand how trauma impacts the physiology in the brain, we can’t learn more empowering ways to regulate the brain so we can change some of those destructive behaviors.

She also spoke of how some cultures find talk therapy taboo. So, rather than focusing on needing to do something we think of as taboo, we can look to more effective ways to regulate the brain. With awareness, comes power. In other words, the more we practice different behavior, the more that behavior becomes a new neuro-pathway.

“The more I can regulate my brain, the more I have the capacity to make choices.”—Iya Affo  

Wisdom 2.0 (2024)

Iya Affo & Renee Blodgett at Wisdom 2.0 (Day 1)

Mingtong Gu also graced us with his presence. He was trained at the largest qigong hospital in China and was named Qigong Master of the Year by the 13th World Congress for Qigong and Traditional Chinese Medicine. I initially learned about his work at the SAND Conference (which sadly stopped running physical events), although he has spoken and led workshops at Wisdom 2.0 before. I wrote a piece about an event he led at Spirit Rock back in 2018 and to this day, remain a fan. He leads on and live courses and events from his Chi Center in Santa Fe. Qigong is a great re-balancing and healing modality.

Taken with Mingtong Gu at a previous Wisdom 2.0

Speaking of healing modalities, let’s now turn to Internal Family Systems (IFS). Many I spoke to at the conference were familiar with (and fans of) the IFS work, so the room was packed when Dr. David Schwartz arrived on stage. Schwartz led a IFS process with Soren on stage, which not only took us through the steps but showed the power of that vulnerability not just with others, but most importantly with oneself.

Wisdom 2.0 (2024)

Dr. Richard Schwartz at Wisdom 2.0 (2024)

One part of him is the “striver,” which can get in the way when we’re doing personal growth and spiritual work and yet, don’t we all have a little striver in us, especially if we’re leading an organization, conference or company? Recognizing it allows us to make amends with that part of us, hold it in a sacred place and then balance the energy so it’s useful rather than detrimental or overpowering.

I‘ve heard #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke speak on public stages before, but felt her wisdom elevate even more this year. It comes from years of delicately but firmly managing the responses that have come her way—not always positive—and persevering despite the ongoing challenges. Sure, we‘ve made progress but she reminds us that we have a long way to go and she remains committed to help women speak their truth without fear. She’s raw, authentic but direct, which I’d argue is imperative for us to truly see through the years of wiring and conditioning that have made sexual harassment and violence okay . . . shoved under the table. We’ve been played as quiet pawns on the chess board for far too long. Find out more about their work here.
Wisdom 2.0 (2024)

Tarana Burke at Wisdom 2.0 (2024)

Then the ever so calming Jon Kabat-Zinn came on stage to speak to us and later, lead us in a mindful meditation. Those who know him for his meditations may not know that he’s also a professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. His background, however, comes from studying with Zen Buddhist teachers but he takes it a step further by integrating their teachings with scientific findings. Jon has a beautiful energy and was a perfect addition to the Wisdom 2.0 stage. His talk topic? The Gift of Awakening: What These Times are Asking of us!
His stress reduction program is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations, all of which help to move the needle forward on a road of acceptance and widespread adoption.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Dan Siegel also led us through his latest findings, including examples from his private practice. As the executive director of the Mindsight Institute and founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA, he has no shortage of accolades and has spoken at Wisdom 2.0 in previous years. Dan has spent a significant amount of time focusing on how relationships shape our autobiographical ways of making sense of our lives and influence our development across the lifespan.
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Dan Siegel on the main Wisdom 2.0 stage

I missed part of Rev. Seifu‘s talk. Let’s just say that his energy is felt and you want to spend time listening to his wisdom for hours. In other words, I wish I had one-on-one time as my questions have mounted the more I learn about his background. He is a veteran of numerous interfaith and inter-spiritual efforts, including Seeds of Compassion in Seattle and as founder and executive director of the Compassionate Action Network. I am also curious how he moved from being an executive at Microsoft to the spiritual work he does today. Hear hear – it’s a testament to the power of going inward regardless of your mindset or where you are in your career.

Wisdom 2.0 (2024)

Rev. Seifu on the main stage at Wisdom 2.0

Then Rodney McKenzie Jr. talked about what it means to be ENOUGH. Like so many of us, he grew up with religion dictating what is true and not true, but as he made his way in the world, he created his own beliefs about God and spirituality, where community was an integral and important part of the message. As ED of Resource Generation, he also worked with the youth to help them feel more connected by creating a community they could trust and feel aligned with. Today, he’s at Fetzer and works with leaders in the philanthropic community but he also cares about democracy and social justice and it shows in his words of wisdom and actions on and off stage.
Embodiment is often a missing piece at conferences, especially on main stages, which is likely why Byron Katie’s exercises were always so popular and why we all felt seen when Rhonda Magee led the audience in song last year. Rodney reminded us to pause, take a breath and be present with everything and everyone around them. And so we breathed. We paused. We slowed the mind down and stood still. Bravissimo for taking the time to do that for the audience Rodney—you understand the importance of community and our connection.
Wisdom 2.0 (2024)

Rodney McKenzie Jr. at Wisdom 2.0

Other speakers included James Nestor, co-founder, Earth Species Project and National Geographic Explorer Aza Raskin, former chair of the Women’s Spirituality Program at CIIT Arisika Razak, Rev. SeiFu Anil Singh-Molares, co-director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network Christine Cordero, Roshi Joan Halifax, and chairman & co-founder of Evolve Ventures Bo Shao, as well as a handful of others.

In addition to main stage talks and fireside style chats, they had a meditation lounge, a mindful walk experience using your senses with Lori Schwanbeck, a sound healing experience with Renato Almanzor, yoga and movement with Jonathan Relucio, breathwork with Renata Moreira, somatic practice with Anjali Sawhney, grounding in indigenous wisdom and radical dharma with Carol Cano, guided practice with Dr. Richard Schwartz, radical inclusivity with Ramon Honea, embodiment with Arisika Razak, building community with Kimi Mojica, and meditation with Jon Kabat-Zinn. There was also an amazing flute and percussion performance by Eliyahu Sills and Josh Mellinger which I missed.
In between the main room and the coffee lounge which is where sponsors set up their tables, we had the lovely Yerba Buena Gardens courtyard and surrounding area to sit, walk and talk.
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Anthony Compagnone, Renee Blodgett, Heather Watne

Renee Blodgett & Thomas Kriese

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Renee Blodgett & Anthony Compagnone (Day 3)

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Renee Blodgett & Saran Saund (Day 1)

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Renee Blodgett & Michelle Fischman (Day 3)

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The audience (Day 2)

It was a great two and a half days. On Thursday night, there were a number of hosted Birds of a Feather dinners (we did one ourselves on Expanded States of Consciousness), and people could sign up to network and meet other like-minded people with similar interests. It’s a great way to meet new people and embark upon interesting discussions while learning more about others attending the event. Once again, two thumbs up. To find out more about Wisdom 2.0, visit their website, where you can also find out about online offerings as well as other activities throughout the year.

Here’s a short video recap of our experience, which includes a few snippets of a handful of the speakers.

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