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Mindful Masculinity, Conscious Capitalism and Kindness

Join Melli and Jono as they explore the masculine expression of mindfulness and the redefining of what it means to be a ‘real man.’

I'm your host Melli O'Brien. And with me today, I'm really delighted to introduce you to a friend and somebody that I admire very deeply, Jono Fisher. And Jono is the founder of the Wake-Up Project, which is an events and media company dedicated to one single mission, to inspire a kindness revolution through creativity and conscious business. The Wake-Up Project's really grown in Australia to be one of the largest and most trusted communities centered around mindful living. And Jono's work in creating this thriving community has been recognized by the likes of The Australian Financial Review, GQ Magazine, UTS Business Cchool, the Sunday Telegraph, ABC the Yoga Journal and, and many more.

So Jono, thank you so much for sharing your time today. No, it's a pleasure and thank you for such a generous introduction. Well, actually, you know, one of the things that I, that I thought of this morning when I was looking at your intro was actually, you know, more than anything, what I admire about you personally, is that you strike me as someone that really walks your talk. So I think that's what I actually admire about you most deeply. Thank you, Melli.

My first question to you is, you know, growing up, would you say that you had any kind of inclination towards mindfulness? You may not have known the word back then, but do you feel like you were a spiritually inclined sort of a kid or? Well, I grew up on a farm. So in growing up on a farm, we had, or had lots of time to myself. Well, so I would be often roaming the paddocks with my dog and we had like pet sheep and, and pet horses. Yeah. And yeah, I don't think I knew the word.

I wasn't familiar with mindfulness as a word, but I think as an experience, being in nature and having all this space around me, I think kind of predisposed me to actually really, really enjoying that space, and also that connection to nature and sensation. And, yeah, just a felt sense of kind of being aware of what was happening around me and happening inside my body. So, yeah, I definitely think my environment as a young person really helps support, I think, that being more, more part of my life. It's interesting that that's a theme that I hear a lot and resonates with my own experience, as well, is that when we were kids, we might not have understood the concept of anything spiritual, but being around a lot of people seem, it seems that when they were alone in nature as children or having that time, it seems to really have affected that ability to be mindful. Yeah.

I think the other thing that's interesting about that, you know, where you talk about not knowing the concept, you know, I was chatting the other day to a, a guy who was, who, he was the former CEO of a large bank, the National AustraliaNbank. And, and I asked him like, are you, are you familiar with mindfulness? You know? And he said, he said, no, I don't really do any mindfulness things. And then he began to describe to me things like getting up in the morning at five o'clock before the sun came up to go for a walk with his dog. And he described how it was sensory deprived. And he, he felt this kind of quietness and stillness that would come into his life.

And it sounded like he was actually describing a meditation practice, but he actually never termed it as that. And yes, I think it's really interesting thing the, the way in which a language or term can get in the way sometimes of people actually experiencing it in very ordinary ways. You know, whether that's walking or swimming or those kind of things. Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more on that topic.

And in fact, since we're talking about it, and I know we've just spoken about how, you know, it's a difficult thing to define, but when you think about what mindfulness, you know, means to you, what, what would you say is your kind of, I don't know,, working definition or whatever of mindfulness? Yeah. I don't know that I have a working definition. But as a description, for me, it would be the ability to become more aware of what's actually happening in your life. And what I mean by that too, is what's happening internally. So becoming aware of how you're feeling and, just really what's going along in your internal world, but then also becoming aware of actually what's around you.

And, and for me, I also have an interest in how that then gets expressed in your life. So I, I know that doing that by stilling your mind, becoming present to how you're feeling has, has such a great benefit upon like, you know, your nervous system and, and stress reduction. And, and yet I also feel like mindfulness is so much about how that affects how you live and I think there's a natural sense when the body does calm down of it gives the body a chance to express different qualities. So express more kindness or warmth. But also there's an ability to also show up more fully in your life, cause I think you begin to understand and know yourself better and you can then bring that forward and people can actually begin to feel you and begin to feel what you're about.

So yeah, I think it's a very kind of personal, internal awareness practice, but then it also affects, I think so, much of how you live and how you engage with people in a relational sense. Yeah. I don't know if that's a clear definition, but that's kind of what comes up for me when, when you asked the question. Yeah, no, that's beautiful. Jono, can you describe in your own experience what it's like, you know, that snippet of time where you were on autopilot.

And then you have that, that moment of waking up into mindfulness. Can you describe in your own words what that experience is like for you? Hmm. Yeah. Well, it's, it's very different for me at different times in my life. So I can find that one of the initial things that happens for me when I become more present or become more mindful, particularly if I do some kind of meditation, like some kind of contemplative practice, often I can have the experience of actually touching sadness and I'll kind of like weep or feel a sense of a sense of sadness.

And I think that's partially to do with a sense of realizing how much I've spent, been spending time in my head or spending time in worry or anxiety or projecting of thoughts. And I think there's a natural sense of sadness, but it's also, I think a sense of relief in a way to go, Oh, coming back from living from here up to kind of coming more in my body. And I think my body responds with this kind of with tears. And it's not like a negative thing to me. It's actually feels quite beautiful and more really like a release, more like a pressure cooker, just, you know, like.

And, and then I think the other, the other, because it's not, it's, it's, it's different different times, but it also feels like a sequential series of events that happens for me within my body. The next thing I notice is that I feel a great sense of rest and a nearly sinking into my body and, and that also comes with a feeling of being grounded. So I feel like, ah, I'm actually in a body. I'm on the earth. I'm here right now.

And there's a sense of perspective that comes with that, of what was once, you know, quite complicated or overwhelming, all of a sudden things become very simple, very manageable, but also very spacious. So what I notice when, when I become present is there's a lot more room within myself and kind of like around me than. I initially thought. So it's really like feeling contracted and then feeling expanded. And in that space, I feel this space for a whole series of emotions or thoughts to arise and just to be there in a more comfortable way.

Whereas before, when I'm not present or I'm actually living in a kind of a very tight mental condition, it feels like everything's very tight and there's not much room. Yeah. And I think the other thing that happens for me is my heart feels more open. And when that happens, I think there's a quality of warmth that arises towards myself. And so I begin to feel, I think there's like a reflection that goes on as well.

Like I reflect on what's happening in my life. And I think due to some of the practices that I've, I've, I've learnt, I've learned to then be kind to myself and be kind and accepting of what's happening. I think when that happens too, then I start to feel more integrated and feel more whole and feel just better about myself. You know, like that I, yeah, the stories that my mind wants to tell me when I'm not very present are just, are just that, are just stories. And that I and everyone else are much bigger and much more connected, and, and than I previously thought.

And I think the challenge with actually that question, I love the question, but the challenge with it is too, because it's so experiential, is that it's often very hard to translate what is a very felt experience into, into the words. But I hope that gives you like a little sense of what I kind of experience at times when, when I, when I become more present. Yeah. I think you expressed that very elegantly, actually. And I absolutely agree with you that, and I actually think this is one of the big challenges in the, if you could, if you even want to use the word spiritual, in the spiritual community.

I think it is one of the challenges is describing something that's such a felt. Personal inner experience and trying to translate that back to other people. It's, it's really not entirely possible, but, but we use the words like, you know, whatever, connectedness, spaciousness, openness, warmth, and, and it's not really fully definable. So yeah, it's, it's just not. Yeah, I think that, I think I completely agree and I think I might've indicated earlier, but I, because I've been interviewing a whole bunch of people myself lately and, you know.

I've been listening. Yeah. And the, and just even guys talking about like fishing, you know, when they describe fishing, cause they're often two guys on their own, often not talking. Yeah. They're in nature.

And so I'm going to describe what's happening. It's actually very meditative, you know. And I think that's, I think that's the beautiful thing that I think can happen when mindfulness can be taken across so many other areas. I think, I think the problem can be when we, we, we limit mindfulness to like a stress reduction course, or a particular training. And as incredibly helpful as that is and how supportive I am of that, but then to also acknowledge and recognize people being mindful, doing a whole bunch of other things that may not be considered a traditional mindfulness practice, but definitely is.

And I think it can also give people a sense of okayness about doing something that isn't formal. Right. And that's something I'm really passionate about because I think, I don't think it suits everyone to be sitting or to do a particular kind of training that other people might find much more benefit in. Swimming and being really focused on the practice of swimming, you know? So yeah, that's kind of where I am with that. Yeah.

I am also really passionate about that same message kind of getting out there that there's no right way and there's no right, you know, exact definition. Sometimes people get really, I think a little bit rigid around that and I agree, you know. And I'm a trained, I'm trained in the, by the Mindfulness Training Institute of Australia who does the mindfulness based stress reduction courses. And I think that course is incredibly powerful and I love it. And I totally agree with you.

There are different ways of approaching mindfulness for all kinds of different people. So, yeah. It's, I'm really glad that you, that you brought that up. Yeah. I mean, cause to me personally, I mean, I just don't want to go on.

Yeah. yeah. You know, even animals, for me, like I think animals, particularly dogs. So inherently just by their nature, they're, they're very present and very connected. And I, think for me, even like when I'm with the dog or have my arm around a dog or look into the eyes of a dog, I naturally start to sync up with the energy of that dog.

And there is a sense of a very similar quality that emerges for me that than if I was kind of meditating. And so, yeah, I love that you're spreading that word for the mindfulness to be kind of accessed in many different ways. Yeah. And I think, you know, one thing that your story, a part, a part of your story that I would love you to share, because I think it's it's so, so interesting and valuable for people to hear about is your journey from being a young man being in the corporate world and how you transitioned from that into starting Wake Up Sydney. Would you share a little bit about how that transition happened for you? Sure.

So, yeah, I was in the corporate world for about 10 years and things were going okay. Nothing spectacular, but just okay. And, you know, everything kind of on the outside seemed okay. And, but internally something didn't feel right for me. Not, not that being in the corporate world there's anything wrong with that.

I think it's a great place for many people. But for me it felt like there was something, that I was swimming kind of the wrong direction, like the stream was going one way and I was swimming another way. And my body really started to be affected by that. And I had a sense of, probably like a low grade kind of depression. Yeah.

I would say, from doing something that just didn't feel like it was what I was meant to be doing. And so actually got to a point where I really felt quite burnt out doing what I was doing and wanted to have break. And so I thought I'll take a couple of months off and then come back, come back to the corporate world. And in those after about three months, I realized, you know, I don't think I want to go back. But also realized I had to make some cash.

And I saw an ad in my local paper to be a male nanny, right? A bit of a career change. Yeah. It was. And I l thought, well, you know, I like kids. Yeah, maybe I can do that for a few months and then I'll go back.

Thought it would just buy me a little bit more time. And so I got this job looking after two six-year-old boys. So twin boys, and I remember the first night putting them to bed/ I put one to bed and then put the other one to bed and he sat up and he looked at me and he said, I'm so glad you're here. And I remember having this very kind of visceral experience in my body of like, Hmm, I think I might actually be here for awhile. And so I was.

I ended up being there for about five years looking after these two young boys. And it was a really transformative experience for me, very difficult at times, and also incredibly rewarding. Some of the things that happened for me that kind of stand out is that one, I had to really simplify my life. So I had to kind of really strip everything down to kind of bare necessities from a financial point of view. And the other thing, and that was both hard and both really rewarding at the same time, you know.

I remember there was a time when I was walking down a park near where I lived and I think it was about a year into being a nanny. And I remember walking down, cause I didn't start work until like three o'clock in the afternoon, so I had most of my days off, you know. And I was only, I was working four days a week. So I had lots of time, lots of time to explore things that I always had on the back burner. So things like, I was really interested in the wisdom traditions.

I wass interested in the arts and social change. And, and now all of a sudden I had time to kind of do this. And I remember walking in this park and I felt like, wow, I have very little in my life and I was looking around and there were just beautiful trees and,there was a kind of a waterway,a creek kind of next to me and I was walking down to the beach. And I honestly felt like, really like royalty, you know. I felt like, wow, I have everything.

And yet at another level I had very little. And that was kind of a very deep experience for me. And I continue to have these experiences of feeling so wealthy and I think it was very much connected to, I was actually much more present to my life and my body and what was actually happening around me. And it was around that time too, I got kind of introduced to Eckhart Tolle's work as well, and that all started to make a whole lot of sense. But, but the other thing that happened in this time was, you know, they were a very wealthy family that I was nannying for.

And so they'd often have dinner parties and such, and, Ioften knew who these people were, right? And so, you know, they come up to me and say, hi, you know, who are you? And I'd say, I'm the nanny. And nine times out of ten, Melli, there would be the answer, the response would be, oh, and then they'd moved on. Yeah. And it was literally, it was like a punch in the guts. Initially, it was so painful because I was like, I felt like I dropped down the bottom of the social status ladder and I was like a nobody.

And even, you know, my partner and friends were going, Hey, Jono, like, are you okay? Like. If you've kind of lost the plot in relation to career and ambition and where you were going. And, but what happened for me in that it was, it took about a year, I think, for me that, until that wasn't a painful experience. But it kind of got to a point naturally where I just started to feel way more comfortable with who I was, irrespective of what I was doing. And there was in the same way with the walk in the park, there was also this sense of feeling comfortable with who I was, separate from what I was doing.

You know, and I think parallel to that, you know, there's also this relationship with these two young boys who were just incredible young boys and that the friendship and the relationship and what I was learning from them and the value and the kind of nourishment I was getting from actually looking after them and taking care of them. And I, my heart was kind of opening in being with them like that. So anyway, it's a long way of sharing some of the things that happened for me, but then there came a point, Melli, where I thought I'd really love to bring together some of the things that I was learning to value and appreciate during this time I was a nanny into a community. And I thought would that, would people be interested in a community that came together to celebrate meditation, interesting speakers, live music, kind of wine and chocolates and themes that were really important to me. And I remember I was having drinks with a friend, a very dear friend of mine, and she had kind of been following my journey along the way.

And she, I was going to start this out and she said, great. What are you going to call it? What are you going to call this community, this thing you're going to start? And at that point I was going to call it Mindful. So I said to her, I think I'm going to call it Mindful. She said, no, no, no, no. And she is actually in a, in a role where she does, she produces a lot of mindfulness-based materials and such.

And I said, well, what do you mean? Like, why wouldn't, why can't I call it Mindful? And she said, it sounds like you can live in a cave, Jono. She said, why are you doing it? And I kind of was like, I kind of told her, I felt like I told her, I wanted to bring together these, you know, the meditation, the arts, good speakers. And she said, yeah, but why? Why do you want to do this? And what just kind of arose within me was this response was, I said, I feel like we're sleepwalking, myself included. And I just want to be part of it not being that way. And she said, ah, she said, you want people to wake up? And I kind of had the sense of kind of like nervousness and excitement.

It felt kind of bold. And yeah. And I said, yeah, but I don't want it to be too like spiritual. And she said, she said, just get over that. She said, notice what you want to wake up to and then follow that impulse.

And if people come along, they come along, if they don't, they don't. And that was the kind of the impetus. And she said, roll your sleeves up and go to work. You know, she kind of sent me out. And I remember booking a cinema about six years ago and kind of hoping and praying that people would come.

I was at that event. Yeah. In Paddington. Thanks. Thanks for being one of those people.

Yeah. And, and there's just been this really natural response from people. And I think, Melli, what's really the lesson in it for me is how, is how I believe so many people right now are so hungry for a deeper sense or deeper quality in their life. And I think there's a real dissatisfaction with the, the myths or the lie that I think that it's been, that has been perpetrated, perpetuated around, if I get something outside of myself, then that will make me feel really good. Where I think it's the complete flip.

As you kind of well know, and I think what the series is all about is that when you find something in yourself and when you really learn to connect to what's going on within yourself, then everything outside of yourself becomes more rewarding and becomes very fulfilling. But that's not the origin of the fulfillment. And yeah, so that was, and it's just, it's continued like that. So the Wake-Up Project now has developed into like a big community of about 70 odd thousand people. We put on many, many events and people keep coming, thank goodness.

And more and more people keep coming or more people. More and more people, yeah. And it's, it's and I continue to see the same kind of thing, you know. Humans just wanting to get together. Humans really valuing a contemplative setting where they can kind of rest and not feel like they have to be a certain, certain way.

And then a celebration of the good and the best qualities of human beings. Not the ones that are often thrown to us, you know, through media. This kind of hyper stimulation, or even a stimulation of our baser desires. Well, I shouldn't say baser desires, but of our kind of like, of things that actually aren't going to bring fulfillment. Right.

Like pleasures, pleasure, but not fulfillment. Not fulfillment. Or, just kind of a sense of like, if you get this, then you're going to be happy and it's like. But then there are all these other human qualities that very rarely get airplay. And when they do get airplay and people start bringing them into their lives, they go, Oh my gosh, this is actually where the goal is.

So long way of kind of sharing the story, but that's, that's kind of the journey for how Wake Up started. And another,new thing that you've started recently is your podcast. Yeah. And I've been tuning in. And I tell you what I'm loving the most about that podcast is that you've opened up a conversation around the masculine expression of mindful living and the, the really specific challenges that affect men.

And one of the things that you've been talking about that, that I'm just really enjoying hearing people talking about is redefining what it is to be, you know, a real man. And so really breaking through those, those cultural ideas around being real men. So I was wondering if, um, if you would care to share what you think are the issues that face men in particular, in this journey to conscious living and what you define as being a real man. Well, what I've noticed, in my own experience and with other men, is that there is a kind of a cultural expectation to show up a particular way. And that why can be having it all together.

Yeah. Carrying the burdens on my own, and not being, not feeling like it's okay to share my emotions when things are difficult or, or even when I'm just feeling a particular way. And so I think there's definitely like a, like a training that goes on from, I think, particularly for young boys, um, that that's just what you do. And I don't think there's anything malicious or, or, you know, overt in, in the desire to kind of suppress men in that way. But I think that definitely has happened and continues to happen.

And I think what I've noticed in these interview series, is nearly every man that I've interviewed, you know, that's from like the Wallabies coach to CEOs of banks and the 60 Minutes reporter the other day, a whole bunch of people that all said, thank you so much for giving me the chance to talk. And honestly, Melli I've actually gone into a lot of these interviews with a kind of like a slight kind of judgment. And the judgment has kind of been really, a man is actually going to want to talk about this. Right, Yeah. A week, is it going to be really awkward? Are they going to think I'm like a bit of a dick, you know, to actually even want to have this conversation.

And within like minutes, they're actually really into it. And it's, it's permission to actually share in a different kind of way. And I think what I've noticed in that is that many times in my life, I've only ever seen men talk like that after like five beers, you know? Like a, Oh, there you are. Right. There's this real col person who shares openly and is quite vulnerable and heartfelt.

So that kind of bravado starts to soften a little bit. Yeah. And often only happens through something like alcohol, you know, because for some reason there's like this, this is conditioning to feel like I can't do that normally. But what I'm noticing in these interviews is that so many men actually want to just show up as themselves. And as themselves often is very warm, very emotional, and, and deeply caring about other people and what's happening in the world.

And I've been really deeply touched by that, really touched. From just at a personal level, it's really like, I don't really care if people like the interviews or not because I'm having this quite profound experience of sitting, you know, for an hour plus with men and just listening to their stories and listening to what's important to them. And that's made a massive difference to my life. But I think to your question about, you know, what is a real man and what does that actually mean? Nearly every time I've asked any of the men this, they have all said, I'm not really interested in that question about what a real man is. I'm interested in what's a good human.

Aww. Yeah. And I, I feel that, I feel the same way and I feel like that's also an indication of where we're going as humans. You know, that this idea that a man has to be a particular way or a woman has to be a particular way is kind of irrelevant and not necessary. But what's really important is who you are as a human, human expression and a very unique expression.

And as a man, you may have many very feminine qualities or you'd want to have very masculine qualities. But to know that you have full permission to be yourself and to be yourself in a kind of an unapologetic way. But I think particularly for men to know that the qualities of, like emotional honesty or kindness, or compassion or vulnerability aren't weaknesses, but that are actually huge strengths. I think when men know that and they're given permission for that, they bring it forward and they go, great. I'm I'm into that.

But if there's any sense of lack, this is going to be a little, we'll see. Yeah. Then they kind of, they kind of hold back and I think it's part of the conditioning. But I think what, what I've noticed while around men who have the ability to really open their hearts and really share openly about what's going on for them in their lives. And I just feel, I feel so much strength.

And I'm reminded of this, some, this kind of Buddhist notion of having a strong back. So your spine being strong and nearly upright and noble, but then having a really soft front. So being open and vulnerable and accessible. And the combination of these two things is what I'm seeing for me as a, a kind of more updated version of masculinity. So you don't want spineless people or spineless men.

You still want, you don't want to emasculate men so they're all just kind of, you know, just all emotional. But to remind them that this strength and this dignity and courage and passion, all these things are so important, but not to ignore the front part of, you know, your heart and your emotional world. And those things together, it's it's more of a, kind of a, kind of like a spiritual warrior archetype, where, where there's enormous strength and yet enormous softness that is there as well. Kind of simultaneous as opposed to like one or the other. Yeah, yeah.

Well, I'm just, really loving that conversation being opened up. I'm really looking forward to, you know, the conversations that you're having with men and it's around these kinds of topics, but as a, as a woman, I'm really just loving hearing. So I'm going to be continuing to tune into that. Thanks, Melli. Now that the other thing that I wanted to kind of get your, your perspective on was, you know, I read recently on a website, your, your profile was on a website called Conscious Capitalism.

And I was recently speaking to Mark Williams, Professor Mark Williams, who you probably know of who founded the Oxford Centre for Mindfulness. And we were talking about how mindfulness would potentially go mainstream. And he said, he thought one of the real important factors in that was going to be CEOs and business people and leaders taking up mindfulness as a way of living. And that's something that you're really involved in. A lot of your events are about mindful leadership, mindful business.

And so I wanted to kind of get your perspective on what, what do you think, what does conscious capitalism really mean to you and what does it, what do you think that's that looks like, you know, on a day-to-day basis? Maybe you can even relate because you're a business person as well, and you're in a leadership role and, yeah. So whatever your perspective is on that, be lovely. Yeah. I think it's a really great question. And, look, I think, first of all, I'm really aware that capitalism is a, it's a flawed kind of system.

It's not perfect, you know, as people are not perfect and you know, that we could do many more things to improve the way that we operate. So that's kind of like one thing that I've kind of parked on one side, because I think there's a whole debate to be had about, is capitalism, the right system. And it's like, well, that's okay. I see lots of areas that we can improve on that, you know. There's this kind of, it's kind of unquestionable, but then at the same time, it's the system that we have.

You know, I think this is another one of these things about being present is actually with, this is the reality of our world. And so to work within the reality, you know, is, is such an important thing. And what I've noticed with bringing more mindfulness into, so we do two things, one we've, we're partnered with Google's Search Inside Yourself program, which brings kind of emotional intelligence and mindfulness and compassion based practices to executives here in Australia. And we also have a mindful leadership event, which brings together executives within the Australian corporate community to explore, what does it mean to be a mindful leader. And what we mean when we say a mindful leader is really to become more self-aware, to become more authentic and become more compassionate.

So it's not just mindfulness on its own. It's actually mindfulness with, with its other cousins, so to speak that make up what we would say like mindful leadership, like a different way of actually leading. And I have seen so many signs of how, how beneficial this is to people. I mean, I initially thought Jesus, is this the right thing to be doing? Is this the right thing to be doing to introduce what are kind of apparently ancient practices into a modern context? And will that be used in a way that just exploits or does things that aren't really helpful for human beings? Yeah. And what I've noticed is that the practices in, in and of themselves, and also the, what happens to people when they get reminded of these kinds of qualities or these different ways of being is that people change and people start to go, Huh.

Maybe we should be doing things a little differently around here. It's it's never like, Oh great. Now we can make this much more money and we can be this much more productive. There is, there is a productivity element that happens. People do become more, I think, efficient and focused and all these other great things from a business point of view.

And that's very clear,. But I think there's a bigger thing that happens. And the biggest thing is. Could we do things differently around here? Could we, and also people start asking questions like, what is their motivation? Why are we even going to work? And are the people here, are they kind of pawns in a, in a, in a kind of a chess game? Or are they fellow humans that I need to treat with kind of dignity and compassion and could even a workplace become more like a family where people are treated really well? So I have grown to witness individuals learning these practices. Yeah.

And particularly leaders. And, and, and trusting that these practices won't bringing out the worst in people, it won't bring out any more narcissism. It actually brings out more reflection, consideration, and qualities like authenticity and compassion, which is then, which then influence how business is done, how teams are put together, how people relate to one another. And then, you know, ultimately, business is the driving force of the world. Hopefully this will move the needle a little closer to actually business becoming a force for good in the world.

And that would be my great hope. And I actually think it can happen. It's that people will wake up within their organizations and go, hey, we don't have to have this organization completely collapse in order for us to rebuild something that might work. We could actually do it from within here. And that's, that's my hope.

And that's what I do see happening at a very small level right now, but I could see it actually moving more and more towards that. Yeah. That's a wonderful vision. And I think it's, it's happening. It's happening slowly.

But there are a lot of, it's amazing, isn't it, when you hear, actually, I really liked tuning into Tim Ferriss' podcasts as well. And you know, it's fascinating. He said the, I think, the number one consistent thing that all of these people who are really successful do every single day is meditate. Yeah. Really.

So there's a lot of very high profile, successful people who meditate. But now this becoming a bit more mainstream, they're all fessing up that they've been doing it for years. So, yeah, I do think... Yeah. And another interesting thing, Melli, I'd just like to bring into that as well, because I think that's there's two things come to mind.

One is I also think there is a, you know, when people talk about, you know, kind of changing the world and such, I think like creativity is such a, a key part of that. And I, I really don't think that creativity can be fully accessed without some kind of contemplative practice, you know? And I think that's what painters and writers are actually ,what's happening for them is they're actually in a... We're back. Okay. So you were saying that artists and contemplative people go into that state.

Yeah. So I think there's a, I think creativity is such a, such an important thing for our world right now. I think it's one of the only things we have to actually find the solutions we need to improve our world. And I think contemplative practices and mindfulness itself is a means for tapping another form of intelligence that's often beyond their own mind. You know, I think we can kind of, you know, the whole idea of like brainstorming or, you know, is kind of a strange notion because it's often tossing around the same kind of ideas.

And then I think when people become still and quiet, something fresh and new can emerge. And I think that's where some of the best ideas happen. So that's one part of also that I think really relates to business and leadership. But the other thing I found really interesting the other day, I interviewed a guy named Jack Heath. I listened to that interview.

It was brilliant. Yeah. And he was talking about like when he was in Parliament. And what I know that it, he, he mentioned how in politics, and you probably remember this, that so many politicians today have very little time to reflect. And as a result, you know, the quality of decisions that are being made are so such so, so much lower than what they could be.

And I think this also points to the need for, you know, politicians as well to be given the opportunity to learn practices like mindfulness practices, not only for their wellbeing, but so they can actually have the time and the space to make a good decision or a good policy that can influence the whole world. So, you know, mindfulness to me is soo... Sure, it originates at a very personal level, but has such big implications for the world if it's taken seriously. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

And it's, it's been said, as my, my final question, it's been said that mindfulness has the capacity to change the world from the inside out one person at a time. So my question to you is, what kind of a world, if, if mindfulness were to really hit critical mass, so, I mean, sometimes people say mindfulness has gone mainstream, but I think, you know, when it hits critical mass, you know, I'm talking a billion or 2 billion people, what kind of a world do you see that that would be? Hmm. Well, that's a big question, Melli. Look, I think what comes to my mind when you ask that is one of the greatest qualities that I think emerges when people become present and become mindful is kindness. So they become kind, their heart begins to lead their life a little more than their mind leading their life.

So the kind of world that I see is where people value this moment right now and the opportunity to be kind in this moment. And I think it's the multiplication of those little acts of kindness that will create a very different world and a very different level of connection with one another, as a kind of a human family. We will literally be like kindness. You know, the first three words is kin. We will, we will have that sense of family again.

We are not separate individual beings that have no responsibility or connections to other people, but we are profoundly connected to one another. And I think the other thing that I think will happen, and I think that is happening, I think particularly out of the Silicon Valley world that's pointing to that is, I think we'll be in a much more creative state. So I think a lot of the problems we have will potentially be, being solved or solved through people having the space to create, rather than being on a treadmill where I often don't get a chance to express something unique into the world. So they're the two things that come to my mind as what I think will happen when mindfulness becomes more, more, more and more mainstream into people's lives. Because I think naturally, in my experience, that's what naturally happens.

Yeah. I'm not saying I'm like the most kindest, creative person, but I know when I am more present, they're the two qualities, they're the two things that seem to happen also for me. So, you know, I would love and hope that that becomes a little more so in the world. Well on that note, thank you so much for the work that you do in helping to create that world. And thank you so much for your time today.

Is there anything else that you want to share before we close up? I really want to acknowledge you and what you're doing with this course and this program. I think a lot of people see these kind of things and can just think they come out of thin air. You know, well Melli just woke up and she started a course and I want to, and I, I know how much work and time and effort and phone calls and emails and Skypes and administration and technical things go into making something like this happen. So, I just want to acknowledge you and thank you for doing that because it's a real gift to the world. And the aspirational last question you asked about this going into the world and becoming more mainstream happens because people like you do a course like this.

And so I just want to say thank you for including me and, and for putting this together. Aww, thanks, Jono. And, I, yeah, I think you and I both have a, a similar passion and want to be part of a similar vision for tomorrow in this world. So yeah. It's my pleasure to do this.

So, thank you so much for tuning in and I'll see you next time.

Talk

4.5

Mindful Masculinity, Conscious Capitalism and Kindness

Join Melli and Jono as they explore the masculine expression of mindfulness and the redefining of what it means to be a ‘real man.’

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

I'm your host Melli O'Brien. And with me today, I'm really delighted to introduce you to a friend and somebody that I admire very deeply, Jono Fisher. And Jono is the founder of the Wake-Up Project, which is an events and media company dedicated to one single mission, to inspire a kindness revolution through creativity and conscious business. The Wake-Up Project's really grown in Australia to be one of the largest and most trusted communities centered around mindful living. And Jono's work in creating this thriving community has been recognized by the likes of The Australian Financial Review, GQ Magazine, UTS Business Cchool, the Sunday Telegraph, ABC the Yoga Journal and, and many more.

So Jono, thank you so much for sharing your time today. No, it's a pleasure and thank you for such a generous introduction. Well, actually, you know, one of the things that I, that I thought of this morning when I was looking at your intro was actually, you know, more than anything, what I admire about you personally, is that you strike me as someone that really walks your talk. So I think that's what I actually admire about you most deeply. Thank you, Melli.

My first question to you is, you know, growing up, would you say that you had any kind of inclination towards mindfulness? You may not have known the word back then, but do you feel like you were a spiritually inclined sort of a kid or? Well, I grew up on a farm. So in growing up on a farm, we had, or had lots of time to myself. Well, so I would be often roaming the paddocks with my dog and we had like pet sheep and, and pet horses. Yeah. And yeah, I don't think I knew the word.

I wasn't familiar with mindfulness as a word, but I think as an experience, being in nature and having all this space around me, I think kind of predisposed me to actually really, really enjoying that space, and also that connection to nature and sensation. And, yeah, just a felt sense of kind of being aware of what was happening around me and happening inside my body. So, yeah, I definitely think my environment as a young person really helps support, I think, that being more, more part of my life. It's interesting that that's a theme that I hear a lot and resonates with my own experience, as well, is that when we were kids, we might not have understood the concept of anything spiritual, but being around a lot of people seem, it seems that when they were alone in nature as children or having that time, it seems to really have affected that ability to be mindful. Yeah.

I think the other thing that's interesting about that, you know, where you talk about not knowing the concept, you know, I was chatting the other day to a, a guy who was, who, he was the former CEO of a large bank, the National AustraliaNbank. And, and I asked him like, are you, are you familiar with mindfulness? You know? And he said, he said, no, I don't really do any mindfulness things. And then he began to describe to me things like getting up in the morning at five o'clock before the sun came up to go for a walk with his dog. And he described how it was sensory deprived. And he, he felt this kind of quietness and stillness that would come into his life.

And it sounded like he was actually describing a meditation practice, but he actually never termed it as that. And yes, I think it's really interesting thing the, the way in which a language or term can get in the way sometimes of people actually experiencing it in very ordinary ways. You know, whether that's walking or swimming or those kind of things. Yeah. I couldn't agree with you more on that topic.

And in fact, since we're talking about it, and I know we've just spoken about how, you know, it's a difficult thing to define, but when you think about what mindfulness, you know, means to you, what, what would you say is your kind of, I don't know,, working definition or whatever of mindfulness? Yeah. I don't know that I have a working definition. But as a description, for me, it would be the ability to become more aware of what's actually happening in your life. And what I mean by that too, is what's happening internally. So becoming aware of how you're feeling and, just really what's going along in your internal world, but then also becoming aware of actually what's around you.

And, and for me, I also have an interest in how that then gets expressed in your life. So I, I know that doing that by stilling your mind, becoming present to how you're feeling has, has such a great benefit upon like, you know, your nervous system and, and stress reduction. And, and yet I also feel like mindfulness is so much about how that affects how you live and I think there's a natural sense when the body does calm down of it gives the body a chance to express different qualities. So express more kindness or warmth. But also there's an ability to also show up more fully in your life, cause I think you begin to understand and know yourself better and you can then bring that forward and people can actually begin to feel you and begin to feel what you're about.

So yeah, I think it's a very kind of personal, internal awareness practice, but then it also affects, I think so, much of how you live and how you engage with people in a relational sense. Yeah. I don't know if that's a clear definition, but that's kind of what comes up for me when, when you asked the question. Yeah, no, that's beautiful. Jono, can you describe in your own experience what it's like, you know, that snippet of time where you were on autopilot.

And then you have that, that moment of waking up into mindfulness. Can you describe in your own words what that experience is like for you? Hmm. Yeah. Well, it's, it's very different for me at different times in my life. So I can find that one of the initial things that happens for me when I become more present or become more mindful, particularly if I do some kind of meditation, like some kind of contemplative practice, often I can have the experience of actually touching sadness and I'll kind of like weep or feel a sense of a sense of sadness.

And I think that's partially to do with a sense of realizing how much I've spent, been spending time in my head or spending time in worry or anxiety or projecting of thoughts. And I think there's a natural sense of sadness, but it's also, I think a sense of relief in a way to go, Oh, coming back from living from here up to kind of coming more in my body. And I think my body responds with this kind of with tears. And it's not like a negative thing to me. It's actually feels quite beautiful and more really like a release, more like a pressure cooker, just, you know, like.

And, and then I think the other, the other, because it's not, it's, it's, it's different different times, but it also feels like a sequential series of events that happens for me within my body. The next thing I notice is that I feel a great sense of rest and a nearly sinking into my body and, and that also comes with a feeling of being grounded. So I feel like, ah, I'm actually in a body. I'm on the earth. I'm here right now.

And there's a sense of perspective that comes with that, of what was once, you know, quite complicated or overwhelming, all of a sudden things become very simple, very manageable, but also very spacious. So what I notice when, when I become present is there's a lot more room within myself and kind of like around me than. I initially thought. So it's really like feeling contracted and then feeling expanded. And in that space, I feel this space for a whole series of emotions or thoughts to arise and just to be there in a more comfortable way.

Whereas before, when I'm not present or I'm actually living in a kind of a very tight mental condition, it feels like everything's very tight and there's not much room. Yeah. And I think the other thing that happens for me is my heart feels more open. And when that happens, I think there's a quality of warmth that arises towards myself. And so I begin to feel, I think there's like a reflection that goes on as well.

Like I reflect on what's happening in my life. And I think due to some of the practices that I've, I've, I've learnt, I've learned to then be kind to myself and be kind and accepting of what's happening. I think when that happens too, then I start to feel more integrated and feel more whole and feel just better about myself. You know, like that I, yeah, the stories that my mind wants to tell me when I'm not very present are just, are just that, are just stories. And that I and everyone else are much bigger and much more connected, and, and than I previously thought.

And I think the challenge with actually that question, I love the question, but the challenge with it is too, because it's so experiential, is that it's often very hard to translate what is a very felt experience into, into the words. But I hope that gives you like a little sense of what I kind of experience at times when, when I, when I become more present. Yeah. I think you expressed that very elegantly, actually. And I absolutely agree with you that, and I actually think this is one of the big challenges in the, if you could, if you even want to use the word spiritual, in the spiritual community.

I think it is one of the challenges is describing something that's such a felt. Personal inner experience and trying to translate that back to other people. It's, it's really not entirely possible, but, but we use the words like, you know, whatever, connectedness, spaciousness, openness, warmth, and, and it's not really fully definable. So yeah, it's, it's just not. Yeah, I think that, I think I completely agree and I think I might've indicated earlier, but I, because I've been interviewing a whole bunch of people myself lately and, you know.

I've been listening. Yeah. And the, and just even guys talking about like fishing, you know, when they describe fishing, cause they're often two guys on their own, often not talking. Yeah. They're in nature.

And so I'm going to describe what's happening. It's actually very meditative, you know. And I think that's, I think that's the beautiful thing that I think can happen when mindfulness can be taken across so many other areas. I think, I think the problem can be when we, we, we limit mindfulness to like a stress reduction course, or a particular training. And as incredibly helpful as that is and how supportive I am of that, but then to also acknowledge and recognize people being mindful, doing a whole bunch of other things that may not be considered a traditional mindfulness practice, but definitely is.

And I think it can also give people a sense of okayness about doing something that isn't formal. Right. And that's something I'm really passionate about because I think, I don't think it suits everyone to be sitting or to do a particular kind of training that other people might find much more benefit in. Swimming and being really focused on the practice of swimming, you know? So yeah, that's kind of where I am with that. Yeah.

I am also really passionate about that same message kind of getting out there that there's no right way and there's no right, you know, exact definition. Sometimes people get really, I think a little bit rigid around that and I agree, you know. And I'm a trained, I'm trained in the, by the Mindfulness Training Institute of Australia who does the mindfulness based stress reduction courses. And I think that course is incredibly powerful and I love it. And I totally agree with you.

There are different ways of approaching mindfulness for all kinds of different people. So, yeah. It's, I'm really glad that you, that you brought that up. Yeah. I mean, cause to me personally, I mean, I just don't want to go on.

Yeah. yeah. You know, even animals, for me, like I think animals, particularly dogs. So inherently just by their nature, they're, they're very present and very connected. And I, think for me, even like when I'm with the dog or have my arm around a dog or look into the eyes of a dog, I naturally start to sync up with the energy of that dog.

And there is a sense of a very similar quality that emerges for me that than if I was kind of meditating. And so, yeah, I love that you're spreading that word for the mindfulness to be kind of accessed in many different ways. Yeah. And I think, you know, one thing that your story, a part, a part of your story that I would love you to share, because I think it's it's so, so interesting and valuable for people to hear about is your journey from being a young man being in the corporate world and how you transitioned from that into starting Wake Up Sydney. Would you share a little bit about how that transition happened for you? Sure.

So, yeah, I was in the corporate world for about 10 years and things were going okay. Nothing spectacular, but just okay. And, you know, everything kind of on the outside seemed okay. And, but internally something didn't feel right for me. Not, not that being in the corporate world there's anything wrong with that.

I think it's a great place for many people. But for me it felt like there was something, that I was swimming kind of the wrong direction, like the stream was going one way and I was swimming another way. And my body really started to be affected by that. And I had a sense of, probably like a low grade kind of depression. Yeah.

I would say, from doing something that just didn't feel like it was what I was meant to be doing. And so actually got to a point where I really felt quite burnt out doing what I was doing and wanted to have break. And so I thought I'll take a couple of months off and then come back, come back to the corporate world. And in those after about three months, I realized, you know, I don't think I want to go back. But also realized I had to make some cash.

And I saw an ad in my local paper to be a male nanny, right? A bit of a career change. Yeah. It was. And I l thought, well, you know, I like kids. Yeah, maybe I can do that for a few months and then I'll go back.

Thought it would just buy me a little bit more time. And so I got this job looking after two six-year-old boys. So twin boys, and I remember the first night putting them to bed/ I put one to bed and then put the other one to bed and he sat up and he looked at me and he said, I'm so glad you're here. And I remember having this very kind of visceral experience in my body of like, Hmm, I think I might actually be here for awhile. And so I was.

I ended up being there for about five years looking after these two young boys. And it was a really transformative experience for me, very difficult at times, and also incredibly rewarding. Some of the things that happened for me that kind of stand out is that one, I had to really simplify my life. So I had to kind of really strip everything down to kind of bare necessities from a financial point of view. And the other thing, and that was both hard and both really rewarding at the same time, you know.

I remember there was a time when I was walking down a park near where I lived and I think it was about a year into being a nanny. And I remember walking down, cause I didn't start work until like three o'clock in the afternoon, so I had most of my days off, you know. And I was only, I was working four days a week. So I had lots of time, lots of time to explore things that I always had on the back burner. So things like, I was really interested in the wisdom traditions.

I wass interested in the arts and social change. And, and now all of a sudden I had time to kind of do this. And I remember walking in this park and I felt like, wow, I have very little in my life and I was looking around and there were just beautiful trees and,there was a kind of a waterway,a creek kind of next to me and I was walking down to the beach. And I honestly felt like, really like royalty, you know. I felt like, wow, I have everything.

And yet at another level I had very little. And that was kind of a very deep experience for me. And I continue to have these experiences of feeling so wealthy and I think it was very much connected to, I was actually much more present to my life and my body and what was actually happening around me. And it was around that time too, I got kind of introduced to Eckhart Tolle's work as well, and that all started to make a whole lot of sense. But, but the other thing that happened in this time was, you know, they were a very wealthy family that I was nannying for.

And so they'd often have dinner parties and such, and, Ioften knew who these people were, right? And so, you know, they come up to me and say, hi, you know, who are you? And I'd say, I'm the nanny. And nine times out of ten, Melli, there would be the answer, the response would be, oh, and then they'd moved on. Yeah. And it was literally, it was like a punch in the guts. Initially, it was so painful because I was like, I felt like I dropped down the bottom of the social status ladder and I was like a nobody.

And even, you know, my partner and friends were going, Hey, Jono, like, are you okay? Like. If you've kind of lost the plot in relation to career and ambition and where you were going. And, but what happened for me in that it was, it took about a year, I think, for me that, until that wasn't a painful experience. But it kind of got to a point naturally where I just started to feel way more comfortable with who I was, irrespective of what I was doing. And there was in the same way with the walk in the park, there was also this sense of feeling comfortable with who I was, separate from what I was doing.

You know, and I think parallel to that, you know, there's also this relationship with these two young boys who were just incredible young boys and that the friendship and the relationship and what I was learning from them and the value and the kind of nourishment I was getting from actually looking after them and taking care of them. And I, my heart was kind of opening in being with them like that. So anyway, it's a long way of sharing some of the things that happened for me, but then there came a point, Melli, where I thought I'd really love to bring together some of the things that I was learning to value and appreciate during this time I was a nanny into a community. And I thought would that, would people be interested in a community that came together to celebrate meditation, interesting speakers, live music, kind of wine and chocolates and themes that were really important to me. And I remember I was having drinks with a friend, a very dear friend of mine, and she had kind of been following my journey along the way.

And she, I was going to start this out and she said, great. What are you going to call it? What are you going to call this community, this thing you're going to start? And at that point I was going to call it Mindful. So I said to her, I think I'm going to call it Mindful. She said, no, no, no, no. And she is actually in a, in a role where she does, she produces a lot of mindfulness-based materials and such.

And I said, well, what do you mean? Like, why wouldn't, why can't I call it Mindful? And she said, it sounds like you can live in a cave, Jono. She said, why are you doing it? And I kind of was like, I kind of told her, I felt like I told her, I wanted to bring together these, you know, the meditation, the arts, good speakers. And she said, yeah, but why? Why do you want to do this? And what just kind of arose within me was this response was, I said, I feel like we're sleepwalking, myself included. And I just want to be part of it not being that way. And she said, ah, she said, you want people to wake up? And I kind of had the sense of kind of like nervousness and excitement.

It felt kind of bold. And yeah. And I said, yeah, but I don't want it to be too like spiritual. And she said, she said, just get over that. She said, notice what you want to wake up to and then follow that impulse.

And if people come along, they come along, if they don't, they don't. And that was the kind of the impetus. And she said, roll your sleeves up and go to work. You know, she kind of sent me out. And I remember booking a cinema about six years ago and kind of hoping and praying that people would come.

I was at that event. Yeah. In Paddington. Thanks. Thanks for being one of those people.

Yeah. And, and there's just been this really natural response from people. And I think, Melli, what's really the lesson in it for me is how, is how I believe so many people right now are so hungry for a deeper sense or deeper quality in their life. And I think there's a real dissatisfaction with the, the myths or the lie that I think that it's been, that has been perpetrated, perpetuated around, if I get something outside of myself, then that will make me feel really good. Where I think it's the complete flip.

As you kind of well know, and I think what the series is all about is that when you find something in yourself and when you really learn to connect to what's going on within yourself, then everything outside of yourself becomes more rewarding and becomes very fulfilling. But that's not the origin of the fulfillment. And yeah, so that was, and it's just, it's continued like that. So the Wake-Up Project now has developed into like a big community of about 70 odd thousand people. We put on many, many events and people keep coming, thank goodness.

And more and more people keep coming or more people. More and more people, yeah. And it's, it's and I continue to see the same kind of thing, you know. Humans just wanting to get together. Humans really valuing a contemplative setting where they can kind of rest and not feel like they have to be a certain, certain way.

And then a celebration of the good and the best qualities of human beings. Not the ones that are often thrown to us, you know, through media. This kind of hyper stimulation, or even a stimulation of our baser desires. Well, I shouldn't say baser desires, but of our kind of like, of things that actually aren't going to bring fulfillment. Right.

Like pleasures, pleasure, but not fulfillment. Not fulfillment. Or, just kind of a sense of like, if you get this, then you're going to be happy and it's like. But then there are all these other human qualities that very rarely get airplay. And when they do get airplay and people start bringing them into their lives, they go, Oh my gosh, this is actually where the goal is.

So long way of kind of sharing the story, but that's, that's kind of the journey for how Wake Up started. And another,new thing that you've started recently is your podcast. Yeah. And I've been tuning in. And I tell you what I'm loving the most about that podcast is that you've opened up a conversation around the masculine expression of mindful living and the, the really specific challenges that affect men.

And one of the things that you've been talking about that, that I'm just really enjoying hearing people talking about is redefining what it is to be, you know, a real man. And so really breaking through those, those cultural ideas around being real men. So I was wondering if, um, if you would care to share what you think are the issues that face men in particular, in this journey to conscious living and what you define as being a real man. Well, what I've noticed, in my own experience and with other men, is that there is a kind of a cultural expectation to show up a particular way. And that why can be having it all together.

Yeah. Carrying the burdens on my own, and not being, not feeling like it's okay to share my emotions when things are difficult or, or even when I'm just feeling a particular way. And so I think there's definitely like a, like a training that goes on from, I think, particularly for young boys, um, that that's just what you do. And I don't think there's anything malicious or, or, you know, overt in, in the desire to kind of suppress men in that way. But I think that definitely has happened and continues to happen.

And I think what I've noticed in these interview series, is nearly every man that I've interviewed, you know, that's from like the Wallabies coach to CEOs of banks and the 60 Minutes reporter the other day, a whole bunch of people that all said, thank you so much for giving me the chance to talk. And honestly, Melli I've actually gone into a lot of these interviews with a kind of like a slight kind of judgment. And the judgment has kind of been really, a man is actually going to want to talk about this. Right, Yeah. A week, is it going to be really awkward? Are they going to think I'm like a bit of a dick, you know, to actually even want to have this conversation.

And within like minutes, they're actually really into it. And it's, it's permission to actually share in a different kind of way. And I think what I've noticed in that is that many times in my life, I've only ever seen men talk like that after like five beers, you know? Like a, Oh, there you are. Right. There's this real col person who shares openly and is quite vulnerable and heartfelt.

So that kind of bravado starts to soften a little bit. Yeah. And often only happens through something like alcohol, you know, because for some reason there's like this, this is conditioning to feel like I can't do that normally. But what I'm noticing in these interviews is that so many men actually want to just show up as themselves. And as themselves often is very warm, very emotional, and, and deeply caring about other people and what's happening in the world.

And I've been really deeply touched by that, really touched. From just at a personal level, it's really like, I don't really care if people like the interviews or not because I'm having this quite profound experience of sitting, you know, for an hour plus with men and just listening to their stories and listening to what's important to them. And that's made a massive difference to my life. But I think to your question about, you know, what is a real man and what does that actually mean? Nearly every time I've asked any of the men this, they have all said, I'm not really interested in that question about what a real man is. I'm interested in what's a good human.

Aww. Yeah. And I, I feel that, I feel the same way and I feel like that's also an indication of where we're going as humans. You know, that this idea that a man has to be a particular way or a woman has to be a particular way is kind of irrelevant and not necessary. But what's really important is who you are as a human, human expression and a very unique expression.

And as a man, you may have many very feminine qualities or you'd want to have very masculine qualities. But to know that you have full permission to be yourself and to be yourself in a kind of an unapologetic way. But I think particularly for men to know that the qualities of, like emotional honesty or kindness, or compassion or vulnerability aren't weaknesses, but that are actually huge strengths. I think when men know that and they're given permission for that, they bring it forward and they go, great. I'm I'm into that.

But if there's any sense of lack, this is going to be a little, we'll see. Yeah. Then they kind of, they kind of hold back and I think it's part of the conditioning. But I think what, what I've noticed while around men who have the ability to really open their hearts and really share openly about what's going on for them in their lives. And I just feel, I feel so much strength.

And I'm reminded of this, some, this kind of Buddhist notion of having a strong back. So your spine being strong and nearly upright and noble, but then having a really soft front. So being open and vulnerable and accessible. And the combination of these two things is what I'm seeing for me as a, a kind of more updated version of masculinity. So you don't want spineless people or spineless men.

You still want, you don't want to emasculate men so they're all just kind of, you know, just all emotional. But to remind them that this strength and this dignity and courage and passion, all these things are so important, but not to ignore the front part of, you know, your heart and your emotional world. And those things together, it's it's more of a, kind of a, kind of like a spiritual warrior archetype, where, where there's enormous strength and yet enormous softness that is there as well. Kind of simultaneous as opposed to like one or the other. Yeah, yeah.

Well, I'm just, really loving that conversation being opened up. I'm really looking forward to, you know, the conversations that you're having with men and it's around these kinds of topics, but as a, as a woman, I'm really just loving hearing. So I'm going to be continuing to tune into that. Thanks, Melli. Now that the other thing that I wanted to kind of get your, your perspective on was, you know, I read recently on a website, your, your profile was on a website called Conscious Capitalism.

And I was recently speaking to Mark Williams, Professor Mark Williams, who you probably know of who founded the Oxford Centre for Mindfulness. And we were talking about how mindfulness would potentially go mainstream. And he said, he thought one of the real important factors in that was going to be CEOs and business people and leaders taking up mindfulness as a way of living. And that's something that you're really involved in. A lot of your events are about mindful leadership, mindful business.

And so I wanted to kind of get your perspective on what, what do you think, what does conscious capitalism really mean to you and what does it, what do you think that's that looks like, you know, on a day-to-day basis? Maybe you can even relate because you're a business person as well, and you're in a leadership role and, yeah. So whatever your perspective is on that, be lovely. Yeah. I think it's a really great question. And, look, I think, first of all, I'm really aware that capitalism is a, it's a flawed kind of system.

It's not perfect, you know, as people are not perfect and you know, that we could do many more things to improve the way that we operate. So that's kind of like one thing that I've kind of parked on one side, because I think there's a whole debate to be had about, is capitalism, the right system. And it's like, well, that's okay. I see lots of areas that we can improve on that, you know. There's this kind of, it's kind of unquestionable, but then at the same time, it's the system that we have.

You know, I think this is another one of these things about being present is actually with, this is the reality of our world. And so to work within the reality, you know, is, is such an important thing. And what I've noticed with bringing more mindfulness into, so we do two things, one we've, we're partnered with Google's Search Inside Yourself program, which brings kind of emotional intelligence and mindfulness and compassion based practices to executives here in Australia. And we also have a mindful leadership event, which brings together executives within the Australian corporate community to explore, what does it mean to be a mindful leader. And what we mean when we say a mindful leader is really to become more self-aware, to become more authentic and become more compassionate.

So it's not just mindfulness on its own. It's actually mindfulness with, with its other cousins, so to speak that make up what we would say like mindful leadership, like a different way of actually leading. And I have seen so many signs of how, how beneficial this is to people. I mean, I initially thought Jesus, is this the right thing to be doing? Is this the right thing to be doing to introduce what are kind of apparently ancient practices into a modern context? And will that be used in a way that just exploits or does things that aren't really helpful for human beings? Yeah. And what I've noticed is that the practices in, in and of themselves, and also the, what happens to people when they get reminded of these kinds of qualities or these different ways of being is that people change and people start to go, Huh.

Maybe we should be doing things a little differently around here. It's it's never like, Oh great. Now we can make this much more money and we can be this much more productive. There is, there is a productivity element that happens. People do become more, I think, efficient and focused and all these other great things from a business point of view.

And that's very clear,. But I think there's a bigger thing that happens. And the biggest thing is. Could we do things differently around here? Could we, and also people start asking questions like, what is their motivation? Why are we even going to work? And are the people here, are they kind of pawns in a, in a, in a kind of a chess game? Or are they fellow humans that I need to treat with kind of dignity and compassion and could even a workplace become more like a family where people are treated really well? So I have grown to witness individuals learning these practices. Yeah.

And particularly leaders. And, and, and trusting that these practices won't bringing out the worst in people, it won't bring out any more narcissism. It actually brings out more reflection, consideration, and qualities like authenticity and compassion, which is then, which then influence how business is done, how teams are put together, how people relate to one another. And then, you know, ultimately, business is the driving force of the world. Hopefully this will move the needle a little closer to actually business becoming a force for good in the world.

And that would be my great hope. And I actually think it can happen. It's that people will wake up within their organizations and go, hey, we don't have to have this organization completely collapse in order for us to rebuild something that might work. We could actually do it from within here. And that's, that's my hope.

And that's what I do see happening at a very small level right now, but I could see it actually moving more and more towards that. Yeah. That's a wonderful vision. And I think it's, it's happening. It's happening slowly.

But there are a lot of, it's amazing, isn't it, when you hear, actually, I really liked tuning into Tim Ferriss' podcasts as well. And you know, it's fascinating. He said the, I think, the number one consistent thing that all of these people who are really successful do every single day is meditate. Yeah. Really.

So there's a lot of very high profile, successful people who meditate. But now this becoming a bit more mainstream, they're all fessing up that they've been doing it for years. So, yeah, I do think... Yeah. And another interesting thing, Melli, I'd just like to bring into that as well, because I think that's there's two things come to mind.

One is I also think there is a, you know, when people talk about, you know, kind of changing the world and such, I think like creativity is such a, a key part of that. And I, I really don't think that creativity can be fully accessed without some kind of contemplative practice, you know? And I think that's what painters and writers are actually ,what's happening for them is they're actually in a... We're back. Okay. So you were saying that artists and contemplative people go into that state.

Yeah. So I think there's a, I think creativity is such a, such an important thing for our world right now. I think it's one of the only things we have to actually find the solutions we need to improve our world. And I think contemplative practices and mindfulness itself is a means for tapping another form of intelligence that's often beyond their own mind. You know, I think we can kind of, you know, the whole idea of like brainstorming or, you know, is kind of a strange notion because it's often tossing around the same kind of ideas.

And then I think when people become still and quiet, something fresh and new can emerge. And I think that's where some of the best ideas happen. So that's one part of also that I think really relates to business and leadership. But the other thing I found really interesting the other day, I interviewed a guy named Jack Heath. I listened to that interview.

It was brilliant. Yeah. And he was talking about like when he was in Parliament. And what I know that it, he, he mentioned how in politics, and you probably remember this, that so many politicians today have very little time to reflect. And as a result, you know, the quality of decisions that are being made are so such so, so much lower than what they could be.

And I think this also points to the need for, you know, politicians as well to be given the opportunity to learn practices like mindfulness practices, not only for their wellbeing, but so they can actually have the time and the space to make a good decision or a good policy that can influence the whole world. So, you know, mindfulness to me is soo... Sure, it originates at a very personal level, but has such big implications for the world if it's taken seriously. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

And it's, it's been said, as my, my final question, it's been said that mindfulness has the capacity to change the world from the inside out one person at a time. So my question to you is, what kind of a world, if, if mindfulness were to really hit critical mass, so, I mean, sometimes people say mindfulness has gone mainstream, but I think, you know, when it hits critical mass, you know, I'm talking a billion or 2 billion people, what kind of a world do you see that that would be? Hmm. Well, that's a big question, Melli. Look, I think what comes to my mind when you ask that is one of the greatest qualities that I think emerges when people become present and become mindful is kindness. So they become kind, their heart begins to lead their life a little more than their mind leading their life.

So the kind of world that I see is where people value this moment right now and the opportunity to be kind in this moment. And I think it's the multiplication of those little acts of kindness that will create a very different world and a very different level of connection with one another, as a kind of a human family. We will literally be like kindness. You know, the first three words is kin. We will, we will have that sense of family again.

We are not separate individual beings that have no responsibility or connections to other people, but we are profoundly connected to one another. And I think the other thing that I think will happen, and I think that is happening, I think particularly out of the Silicon Valley world that's pointing to that is, I think we'll be in a much more creative state. So I think a lot of the problems we have will potentially be, being solved or solved through people having the space to create, rather than being on a treadmill where I often don't get a chance to express something unique into the world. So they're the two things that come to my mind as what I think will happen when mindfulness becomes more, more, more and more mainstream into people's lives. Because I think naturally, in my experience, that's what naturally happens.

Yeah. I'm not saying I'm like the most kindest, creative person, but I know when I am more present, they're the two qualities, they're the two things that seem to happen also for me. So, you know, I would love and hope that that becomes a little more so in the world. Well on that note, thank you so much for the work that you do in helping to create that world. And thank you so much for your time today.

Is there anything else that you want to share before we close up? I really want to acknowledge you and what you're doing with this course and this program. I think a lot of people see these kind of things and can just think they come out of thin air. You know, well Melli just woke up and she started a course and I want to, and I, I know how much work and time and effort and phone calls and emails and Skypes and administration and technical things go into making something like this happen. So, I just want to acknowledge you and thank you for doing that because it's a real gift to the world. And the aspirational last question you asked about this going into the world and becoming more mainstream happens because people like you do a course like this.

And so I just want to say thank you for including me and, and for putting this together. Aww, thanks, Jono. And, I, yeah, I think you and I both have a, a similar passion and want to be part of a similar vision for tomorrow in this world. So yeah. It's my pleasure to do this.

So, thank you so much for tuning in and I'll see you next time.

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