All of the Fizz Mind 2018 “slideware” is available on my slideshare account.
Here are 5 books that provide tools for navigating the “Post-Truth” world.
Each book was uncomfortable to read. They provide examples that force me to “open my eyes” and move away from “willful blindness”. They describe biases and errors my mind makes, and then how others are attempting to manipulate me by attacking my biases and faulty perception.
“Post Truth” — by Lee McIntyre
“Who Do We Choose To Be” — by Margaret Wheatley
“Rebalancing Society” — by Henry Mintzberg
“Win Bigly” — by Scott Adams
“Skin in the Game” — by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I learned a lot from Lee McIntyre’s recent history of “the press”, and especially how the “Prestige Press” operates. I was surprised to learn that the “Prestige Press” uses a “two-sides to the story” approach to provide “balance”, and that they do this even when there is only one side. For example, climate change gets “two-sided” coverage even though there is very little scientific support against it. The “two-sided-ness” makes it appear to readers that there is doubt. The debate is “manufactured” and the attempt at “balance” produces “imbalance”. I also learned that many lobby groups are trying to recreate the success of the “Tobacco Lobby”, which fought for a “two-sided” discussion, and thus delayed action on “Tobacco” for decades. My synthesis is that it is very difficult to get “all the information”, and that historically we’ve never really had it.
Scott Adams “Win Bigly” is absolutely terrifying, because he does a great job discussing how good Trump is at persuasion. I was sad, for many weeks, after reading this book. It’s that convincing.
Margaret (Meg) Wheatley and Henry Mintzberg are great reads because they provide me with something to do. She says that the world needs “Warriors for the Human Spirit”, and Henry Mintzberg says that we should get out to support our “Plural Sector”.
I summarize Meg Wheatley’s “Warrior for the Human Spirit” action plan as 1) learn how to meditate, so that I can strengthen mind and to begin to sort through all this manipulation and 2) Stand up, be a good person, don’t succumb to the post-truth mentality, and help others with this disorienting time.
In Henry Mintzberg’s book he talks about the loss of balance between Business, Government, and Plural sectors of our society. He defines the “Plural Sector” for us in the hope that we’ll work hard to restore balance. Sadly, he doesn’t hold out much hope for us doing this quickly. Here is his definition of the “Plural Sector”
“Consider all those associations that are neither public nor private—owned neither by the state nor by private investors—such as foundations, places of worship, unions, cooperatives, Greenpeace, the Red Cross, and many renowned universities and hospitals. — page x
Finally, Nassim Taleb is always worth reading. He sees the world differently and can back up his views. He is important and must be taken seriously, no matter how difficult his views are to stomach.
More – Defining Post-Truth
Lee McIntyre provides a definition of Post-Truth that sends shivers down my spine
“Contention that feelings are more accurate than facts, for the purpose of the political subordination of reality.” page 174 of “Post-Truth”
Wow! We’re halfway through Fizz Mind 2018. That’s 3 Fridays of meditation class, and 3 to go.
It’s a big group, around 60+ people. We’ve got the UBC Fizz – Year 2 Cohort, 3 Professors, and 5 volunteers.
Best Moment So Far
I loved the eyes, and body-language on day 1. At the beginning of the session the group was all loose, and cool, with learning about mindfulness. Then I got up, told them that this class was about experiencing mindfulness, and that our first meditation would be starting now. There was — mild shock <smile> ❤
What Are We Really Doing?
The sessions have 3 sections – Sit, Circle, and Explore.
In the Sit section we meditate. On day 1 we learn about: the Structure of a meditation, Aspiration, Posture, Technique, and Review. Then we do a couple 1 minute meditations and a big 3 minute meditation. I love how long that first 3 minute meditation feels. It’s a big deal! On day 2 and 3 we increase the time to 12 minutes. It’s a guided meditation and a few minutes of silence. No one complains that it’s too long.
In the Circle section we do a technical review of the meditation. In particular we’re interested in three things: our ability to focus on the breath, our ability to be mindful of our process (that is noticing when we lose focus on the breath and bringing our focus back to the breath), and how we feel in our body. Each student gets 30 seconds to a minute and we go clockwise in the circle once or twice. In this way we support each other in collecting and sharing “meditation data”. It allows us to improve our technique, set expectations for experience, and feel comfort in our similar responses. Note, that we have experienced meditators who have volunteered to lead the sit and circle sections. We are 4 groups of ~15 people each. Thank You John, Noreen, Ross, and Katie.
In the Explore section we do career planning exercises. For Day 1 and Day 2 the Sit and Circle dominated the hour. In day 3 we did a quick mind mapping exercise called the Work Life Manifesto and had a group chat.
In the next three sessions the meditation will shift to the practice of “Open Awareness”, add a few more review points, and we will do a couple 5 Year Planning exercises from “Desiging Your Life” and “Iain’s own design/hack”.
Creating the Container — The weirdest, and/or most uncomfortable, thing we do is reading a statement at the beginning of each class wishing all people to be “Well and Happy”. I do this because I want to set the tone for everyone that this work is a big deal and that we are trying to be in a perfect world for this hour. We want to create space so that we can relax and regroup. To support that we need to say something strongly memorable, and something that we can’t argue with. So … we practice doing a very memorable thing — that is wishing everyone to be well and happy — for 6 weeks. It feels great to do this.
The Reading Stack
The core practices in the workshop are supported by the following books: “Mindfulness in Plain English” (Sit), “The Way of Council” (Circle), and “Designing Your Life” (Explore). More detail can be found in “The Breath of Awakening” (advanced meditation technique), and “Joyful Wisdom” (Open Awareness).
Inspiration for maintaining a regular meditation practice can be found in the following books “The Art of Communicating”, “Self Reg”, “Joy on Demand”, and “Search Inside Yourself”.
The Quest University connection. It’s very cool that two of our volunteers, Ross and Katie, participated in the February workshop in Squamish.
I wrote in detail about the Q Mind and Fizz Mind project here
One More Thing
A big Thank You to Andre Marziali for supporting this class/experiment.
A big Thank You to Bonni Ross for her support and guidance in developing the content of this class.
My project for 2018 is the development of a workshop that Mashes-Up Meditation, Mindfulness, and Career Planning. The activities are meditation sit, meditation circle, and exploring career planning through sketching. In short “Sit, Circle, Explore.”
My intended audience is University Undergraduate Engineers of the creative type, the kids that take Engineering Science degrees. The first prototype of the workshop was hosted at a liberal arts college which has an exploratory educational style like Engineering Science offerings.
My core reading stack is “Mindfulness in Plain English”, “Way of Council”, and “Designing Your Life”. There are lots of tidbits borrowed from the late Namgyal Rinpoche, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Bonni Ross, Chade-Meng Tan, Stuart Shanker, and more.
The inspiration for this course came from a UBC Engineering Physics student group request for Mental Health offerings (in the fall of 2017). I heard of that request and thought that I could reframe my entrepreneurship workshops towards mindfulness.
Class Package – Q Mind 2018 – eBook (epub and pdf)
I captured the workshop in a blog format, and then archived it into an eBook.
One More Thing – Next Steps
The first workshop ran for 6 weeks through January and February 2018. The next offering is planned for May and June with UBC Eng Fizz students.
“We skip over too much when we rely too much on language” — Dr Stuart Shanker
For example here is his definition of Calm.
More — A few years back I was introduced to the “Self Regulation” work of Dr Stuart Shankar. I really like how he explores the complexities of regulating oneself versus controlling oneself. Recently his book came out in paperback.
Thank You -— tip to West Van Schools Sandra-Lynn Shortall @SLShortall
Timeless advice for today’s activists.
Thomas Merton’s Letter to a Young Activist » Jim and Nancy Forest is an essay discussing a set of letters between Jim Forest and Thomas Merton during the Vietnam War.
you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.
That last sentence became for me one of the most important insights that I ever received from Merton: “In the end, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.” I know it by heart and recite it often. It sums up incarnational theology. Words and slogans and theories are not nearly as important as how we see and relate to each other — the relationships we build — and not only with friends but with adversaries. In the context of peace work, it suggests getting to know, as best we can, the people and cultures being targeted by our weapons.
More — Christianity Meets Buddhism
I originally came upon this essay in a Buddhist book, Margaret Wheatley’s “So Far From Home”, and have always been curious about why she quotes a Catholic essay as the basis for her book.
It turns out that Jim Forest, a Catholic, spent a lot of time with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist. In fact Forest toured Nhat Hahn around the US for a while. Here are 4 essays that discuss his work and time with Thich Nhat Hanh. Super interesting.
Fantastic is how I’d describe the books “Difficult Conversations” and “Crucial Conversations”.
I read “Difficult Conversations” first and I liked the premise that — “Each Difficult Conversation Is Really Three Conversations” —
- First — The “What Happened?” Conversation.
- Second — The “Feelings” Conversation.
- Third — The “Identity” Conversation.
and that the solution is to “Explore the Others Story & Yours” and one will need to “Reframe, reframe, and reframe to keep on track <smile>
This is because we really don’t know what happened, don’t know much about the mechanics of our feelings, and don’t want to know what our identity is. Fun stuff — if you can laugh at yourself. The first thing to do is to figure out what your contribution to the “difficulty” is – We are not blame free.
The book “Crucial Conversations” is focused on the workplace and provides very good examples in that context. The instructions are similar to “Difficult Conversations”. My favourite phrase is that we react with “silence or violence” and that we often use three clever stories to justify our actions. The three clever stories are
- Victim Stories – “It’s Not My Fault”
- Villian Stories – “It’s All Your Fault”
- Helpless Stories – “There’s Nothing Else I Can Do”
We use “clever stories” because, first, they are accurate, oops the authors state that “clever stories” are rarely accurate. They mostly get us off the hook and help us shirk responsibility.
Noticing our “clever stories” is very useful. If we notice ourselves telling a clever story then there is high probability that we’ve contributed to a “Difficult Conversation” — We are hiding details. The way out is to stop and acknowledge that the “clever story” is not true. It’s a fiction. Then work to figure out what we are hiding and “Tell The Rest of the Story”.