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Apr 08
International Programs, Mandala Projects, Northeastern States
Plans for 2009 Applied Mindfulness Conference
President Reoch and Patton Hyman at the 2008 conference.  (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey B. Green)

President Reoch and Patton Hyman at the 2008 conference. (Photo courtesy of Jeffrey B. Green)

In November 2008, a Shambhala-wide survey was distributed through the Shambhala News Service. The survey idea was an outcome of the inaugural Applied Mindfulness Conference hosted by Tail of the Tiger (a program that combines meditative and secular disciplines) at Karme Choling in May 2008. Shambhala President Richard Reoch served as keynote speaker.

In his closing remarks at the first annual conference, President Reoch said, “It would be really great if we could do this again. Perhaps there’s some work that could be done in the meantime. We need to look at what’s going on in our own community. It is important to look, as someone said, at what practitioners are doing in their fields and their skills. One thing that could be done is some survey within our own community.”

The survey itself was initiated, developed and administered by a committee of participant volunteers from the 2008 conference. Patton Hyman, director of Tail of the Tiger, summarized the survey results as follows:

“The number of responses was strong, at more than 225. Based on the information available to us per the number of SNS distributees, this represents a response rate in the neighborhood of 5 percent, good for an unsolicited survey, especially considering that no promotion of the 2009 conference had yet been presented.

“Eighty-six percent rated the importance of applying mindfulness in a professional setting as ‘highly important,’ which is the highest rating category.

“About two-thirds of the respondents (145) indicated an interest in further involvement with Applied Mindfulness efforts. Most respondents are teachers within the Shambhala mandala, of whom 24 responded that they teach mindfulness meditation outside Shambhala venues.

“Responses to the survey came from persons living in 20 different countries, with the bulk of the responses originating in the US (143) and Canada (46) [and] the rest from the Netherlands, the UK, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Austria, the Czech Republic, Greece, Iran, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, and Thailand.

“The breadth of interest in applying mindfulness is also wide-ranging. The survey presented six categories of interest (in addition to ‘Other’), and respondents had the option of selecting more than one. In order of number of responses, the categories ranked as follows: organizations/business, 101; schools/educational settings, 96; social action, 83; healthcare, 70; therapy, 68; and coaching, 53. The ‘Other’ responses (in no particular order) included contemplative dance, MBSR [mindfulness-based stress reduction], retreats, other religious groups, the arts, writing, youth/children/family, agriculture, storytelling, ecopsychology/wilderness, and environmental activism.”

In response to these survey results, President Reoch said, “It does indeed confirm the more general impression we had that a lot of people are working to bring their practice of mindfulness into the many settings where they are active and where they often face intense demands. I certainly think we should make an effort like this [conference] again. Maybe it won’t be exactly the same; it might be larger and it might be one in which there is an opportunity for some people to present examples of how they are working in specific settings, challenges they face, the way they have been overcoming it.”

The 2009 conference will include various workshops focusing on the areas of interest expressed by Shambhalians in the survey results. Workshop proposals are being accepted until April 1. Online applications can be completed here.

The 2009 Applied Mindfulness Conference will be held July 23 to 26 at Karme Choling.

Click here for more information about the conference and plenary speakers, and click here for the 2009 conference flier.

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