On March 1, the TEDx Surrey team presented its third TEDx Surrey Salon on the campus of Kwantlen Polytechnic University at its main Surrey location. Three experts in the field of meditation, who happened to be amazingly accomplished in other fields as well, all tackled the question, “Can meditation really change your life?”
The event was sold out days before the crowd gathered in KPU’s well-lit auditorium. Clearly, this was a topic that many in the community have been wondering about.
TEDx Surrey regular host Noel Bentley opened the evening and set our expectations high. He outlined the evening’s agenda and assured us it would be thought-provoking and fun. Unique to the Salon format, three experts would speak on the same subject from different perspectives and would respond to audience questions as a 3-person panel.
The first speaker was R.J. Purcell, a former software development entrepreneur. He spoke to the misconception that those who meditate are too internally focused to get anything meaningful done. He countered that premise by revealing that many highly successful people from the worlds of business and entertainment are long-time advocates for a robust meditation practice. His first example was Ray Dalio, founder and formerly co-chief investment officer of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Bridgewater Associates. His second example was American talk show host, television producer, actress, author, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. Both see enough value in meditation that they underwrite the cost of meditation training for their employees.
Randy stated that he found the main benefits of meditation to be strengthened Executive Control in his thought processes plus strong backward inhibition that helps to lower anxiety and stress. He also made meditation quite accessible to the audience by demonstrating a simple breathing exercise that should show results with as little as five minutes a day of practice.
Our next speaker, Mara Branscombe, a mother, writer, yogi, artist, mindfulness leader, ceremonialist, and spiritual coach, has been teaching yoga and meditation for 20 years and has authored two books. Her message challenged us to consider if we respond or react to situations in life. Are we living in the present, being mindful and not overly disturbed by the things happening to us? Or are we buffeted and surprised and bruised as we are propelled through life?
Her belief is a rich and expansive meditation practice, supplemented with regular expressions of gratitude, healthy rhythms and routines, and being willing to let go, would enable you to walk through life with a calm, clear mind enriched with satisfying relationships.
Our final speaker, was former international tax attorney, Roberta Vommaro. She is a wellness specialist and mindfulness coach with over 15 years of experience. Roberta understands the demands of the corporate world and believes meditation is the number one tool to achieve well-being while being fully engaged in the world.
Her lived experience with professional burn-out caused her to ask fundamental questions like whose idea of success was she striving for? She has detected a connection between a lack of meditation and the toughest periods of her life. And the opposite has proven true, as well. Meditation helped her clear the emotional, mental clutter and gave her a sharp, focused mind that led her to shift her perspective on many things. Her meditation teaching practice has, at its core, a connectedness to your breathing.
The TEDx Surrey will be hosting Salon events throughout the year. These smaller gatherings leverage the resources and capabilities of our team. They feature in-depth conversations around one topic in a setting that is more intimate our main event venue, the Bell Performing Arts Centre. This arrangement promotes audience interaction and engagement. Our next event, scheduled for mid-May, will be on the topic of “Humour, Health, and Happiness”.