Event titled ‘Women’s Approach to Consciousness and Business’, was organised by ConsciousLab at HUB Westminster, on 20 th March 2014, London. Following is a short writing by Jini Reddy after she attended the event:
Take six female entrepreneurs speaking on consciousness – a concept that can elicit puzzlement, wonder and an intangible familiarity in equal measure – one witty moderator, an audience (largely female) fizzing with energy and curiosity and ample time for networking and you have the recipe for an event that creates genuine and lasting positive impact. And so it was ‘Women’s Approach to Consciousness and Business’, held recently at the Hub Westminster and hosted by Conscious Lab.
‘In business there is not a lot of talk about inner values or going inward,’ said Harsh Thapar, the event’s driving force, by way of introduction. ‘We must challenge this.’
Indeed – and how. For Judith Underhill, a consultant and executive coach, this means integrating mindfulness and compassionate leadership in her work. It all began when she hit a ‘brick wall’. In hindsight she recognised this as a pivotal moment of consciousness which set her on a journey, exploring and living what she described as the 7 attributes of mindfulness: adopting a beginner’s mind; patience; the practice of non-judgement; trust; non-striving; acceptance and letting go.
Jane Houghton’s route to conscious living was triggered by personal loss and a tumultuous life change . In response, the director, trustee, advisory board member and mentor decided to dedicate 2013 to nurturing herself. She learned NLP (she’s now a master practitioner), which she said made her a more confident and able communicator. She also embarked on an unusual tour billed as an ‘Adventure in Consciousness’ to Pondicherry, India. As part of it, she visited the Aravind Eye Hospital, where patients pay only if they want to.
As a business model it is a resounding success, for paying patients subsidise free ones. (A little aside here – according to a blog published in the New York Times last year, Aravind performs 60 percent as many eye surgeries as the United Kingdom’s National Health System, at one one-thousandth of the cost.). The experience gave Houghton much food for thought. ‘Connecting with myself, exercising mind and body and laughter,’ are, she said, conscious practices she integrates into her life.
Kirsten Hensen, who runs a sustainability business and has an impressive list of accolades to her name ( including 2012 Sustainability Practitioner of the Year) told us that ‘the first part of consciousness means recognising we’re all different.’ Working in the hard-nosed (and hatted ) world of construction she’s also a keen athlete and, interestingly, described rowing as a ‘conscious sport’.
‘To make that boat fly, individuals have to be in unison – and without the medium of visual expression. It’s a deep, primeval feeling, a connection, an awareness of those around you,’ she said.
In a work context, Henson spoke of opening up dialogues with people rather than simply telling them what to do, and creating awareness as a vehicle for change. ‘Consciousness is about communicating clearly. It’s about giving people opportunities to celebrate their achievements and leave their egos at the door.’
For the lively and engaging Jo-Ann Hamilton, a consultant in the real-estate and construction industry who’s worked for the past 15 years in the Caribbean, the US and the UK, self-awareness and self-evaluation are a vital part of being conscious. ‘This means asking questions like “who am i?”, “What do I want?” “What are my aspirations?” “Who do I want to be?” and “ What are my core values?”
Finally Lousie Cox Chester, an ex-City director, business strategy advisor, co-founder of Mindfulness at Work and a mindfulness coach who runs a mindfulness-based organic Spa Retreat in Kent, shared an anecdote about practicing meditation as a child with her grandmother. Her interest was revived later on in life via a ‘random’ encounter with a mindfulness practitioner. It was to transform her life.
‘Consciousness,’ she said ‘ is something we dip into and out of. It’s a peeling away of the onion, a non-local awareness. It invites and links us all. WE are all individual pieces of a jigsaw. We share a common humanity. We are either “mindfull” or “mindful” .
Wise words, from her and all the women who shared their stories. The audience certainly thought so, judging by the enthusiastic post-event networking, the steady stream of activity on Twitter, and the suggestion by one woman, of a day-long workshop with the night’s speakers. Deal done, exclaimed Conscious Lab co-founder Claudia Roth. Being the successful businesswoman that she is, she knows that when inspiration strikes, it pays to harness it – fast!
About the Author:
Jini Reddy is a London-based freelance writer, contributing to both national & niche press. She specialises in eco-experiences &travel, holistic living, personal growth, change&positive ventures www.jinireddy.co.uk Twitter: @jini_reddy
ConsciousLab invites you to share your views, comments and suggestions regarding the event on Facebook, this blog or personally email to the event organiser, Harsh Thapar (firstname.lastname@example.org )