It might not seem like going online would equate to mindfulness. After all, isn't the whole point of "switching off" well, switching off?
However Byron Bay-based meditation and yoga teacher Melli O'Brien, along with her internet entrepreneur partner Matt Dickinson, have turned that notion on its head with the successful launch of the the world’s first online Mindfulness Summit earlier this month.
Launched on October 1, the Mindfulness Summit has since attracted 250,000 members and, according to O'Brien, has received a whopping 3.5 million page views as of October 27.
The Summit offers members free online access to high-quality mindfulness training from some of the world's leading experts, including neuro-psychologist Dr Rick Hanson, clinical psychologist and Head of Oxford University Mindfulness Centre, Mark Williams and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington.
Now nearing the end of its free 31-day run, The Mindfulness Summit is set to kick off with a final bang, inviting all members to join the world's biggest ever group mediation, led by Professor of Medicine Emeritus, mindfulness teacher, bestselling author and founder of the groundbreaking Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, Jon Kabat-Zinn.
"Basically, we wanted to make mindfulness free for as many people as possible -- from remote rural areas, to poorer countries, to people who wouldn't try mindfulness unless it was free," O'Brien told The Huffington Post Australia.
"The whole idea of this summit was to bring a little bit more peace and purpose and wisdom into people's lives.
"I think it's a really tricky time on our planet -- a speedy time -- where there is so much access to technology and it's very normal to be stressed. It's very normal to feel a bit disenchanted.
"We wanted to give people a little bit of that sense of wonder, a little more peace and joy. A chance to be fully alive and engaged -- that's what I'm really hoping for more than anything."
But what of using technology as an end to meet that goal? O'Brien acknowledges that logging onto one's laptop isn't something ordinarily associated with meditation or mindfulness, but says it's also important to keep up with the times.
"It's a funny thing because you don’t really associate technology with making you more mindful, you think of it making you less mindful," O'Brien said.
"But, I think the power of technology -- like any other power in our life, the power of beauty or money or charisma -- all of these things can be used to make a better world, or they can be used to stuff things up.
"If technology is not used with wisdom... well, there's a compulsive quality to technology, isn't there. That thing where you can't sit still any more [without accessing it]. But at the same time it's so accessible, and we are so empowered with knowledge.
"I think with the summit, it's all about accessibility. Not everyone is going to fork out $500 to learn mindfulness. But here you can access an amazing introductory course to mindfulness, right at your finger tips. It's really exciting."
Though the summit is nearing its end, O'Brien encourages all those who haven't yet signed up to take advantage of its final days, and in particular, the final group meditation.
"John is one of -- if not the -- most respected mindfulness teachers in the world. To have this live-stream meditation -- for people in Australia it will be on Sunday morning -- as the conclusion to our summit is just so exciting.
"We're not going for a Guinness Record but we do believe it will be the world's biggest meditation practice that has ever happened simultaneously. It's certainly the world's largest mindfulness practice.
"Obviously there are a quarter of a million people who have signed up to the summit who will receive the invitation, so we are expecting a huge turn out."
The Mindfulness Summit Final Meditation Event will be held at 5:00 PM EDT/ 2:00 PM PDT on October 31st and 8:00 AM November 1st AEDT.
Going forward, the Mindfulness Summit will still be accessible for a fee of $99. Money from these memberships will go to a number of selected mindfulness charities.
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