Mindfulness Is Positively Powerful!
WCNY’s Special Interest Speaker Series hosted an event titled “Calm Your Mind, Think Clearly and Be a Better Person” on July 24. A sizable crowd attended, confirming the notion that New Yorkers may indeed feel stressed out! Due Quach, WG’06, of Calm Clarity energized attendees through several exercises.
First, we partnered up to share four positive experiences, such as your favorite food and your favorite song. I learned that Idehen (I.D.) Aruede,
WG’06, Chief Financial Officer of the Whitney Museum of American Art, likes nothing better than to have a leisurely meal, sitting by himself in an
outdoor café, to read, think and watch the world go by.
Next came exercises such as smiling, which makes us happier. It works, as Due explained, because, “Thinking doesn’t just happen in your brain — it happens in your body as well. You can’t isolate thoughts from emotions and sensations!”
The main attraction was ‘compassion meditation’, which is named thus, “Because you generate feelings of loving-kindness and compassion. The way the meditation works is, you are going to start by verbalizing positive wishes for yourself, the people in your life and then all people. Then you try to have a feeling comparable to what an ideal mother would have for her child. The wishes are very benevolent.” After being guided in the meditation with eyes closed, for about 10 minutes, everyone was smiling — and no, nobody snored.
Due also shared her personal journey from escaping Vietnam with her family in a boat to refugee camps, to inner-city Philadelphia, to Harvard College and then to Wharton. This was “the why” behind her own search to create tranquility from trauma.
Due is currently teaching her Calm Clarity program in Philadelphia high schools and colleges to show young people how to manage stress in healthy ways and improve focus, resilience and well-being, to give back. She also wants to teach executive teams in New York to clear their minds, create calm, think clearly, improve their focus and be better people, and thus better leaders.
Due compared and contrasted executives and West Philly students. “Both are faced with chronic stress. They experience triggers throughout the day that keep them in a fight-or-flight state. This takes a toll on their cognitive functions and emotional regulation, which leads to difficulties controlling impulses and increases the risk of depression, substance abuse, and other compulsive behaviors. The difference between these two groups are the triggers themselves and the buffers available to them. The challenges most executives face are usually not life-threatening and they have access to a wealth of resources that buffer stress. West Philly kids are exposed to dangerous situations and have very thin or non-existent buffers.”
(excerpted from Wharton Alumni Club of NY Magazine, Fall 2014 Edition)