Our guests today are Michelle and Joel Levey, pioneers in introducing mindfulness and mind-fitness training in mainstream business, medicine, and government arenas. In this episode, we talk about their personal journeys, their fascinating project with the US Army Special Forces, how to work with difficult emotions and how we can become a force for good in the midst of the Great Unraveling.
“You need the wing of wisdom and insight and the wing of an open, caring heart of love and compassion because neither one by themselves is going to be sustainable for doing the important work.”
Michelle and Joel are life and work partners.
Joel grew up in a family, where there was a lot of faith and discipline, but also suffering. This sensitized him to not be afraid of suffering and to respond to it in a helpful way. He started his career as a researcher in psychophysiology, which led him to research extraordinary human performance and consciousness. He was a pioneer in teaching mind-fitness and mindfulness-based programs in businesses, in universities, in hospices, sports and also in governmental and military settings.
Michelle grew up in New York City and became interested in meditation practices and activism in the ’60s during the Vietnam war when she became involved in the anti-war movement. She realized that if she wanted to help bring peace to the world, she had to find her inner peace first. She started to go to a Chinese Buddhist center and soon became a part of the mindfulness community. In the past 40 years, she introduced mindfulness to organisations, universities, sports, governmental and military settings and helped countless people to live a more fulfilling and happy life.
How To Work With Anger
According to the Leveys, underneath anger, there is always frustration, and underneath frustration, there is desire and hope, which stems from something we really love and care about. It takes a lot of courage to embrace our anger, disappointment, and rage. Joel and Michelle worked with many people, who had severe anger issues, but with their mindful practices, these people learned to manage and even use their anger in a productive and useful way.
There is a place for anger and moral outrage because it gives a certain energy and motivation. Experiencing anger as an emotion is never a problem, but reacting from blind rage is where it becomes problematic.
Working With The US Army Special Forces
“These veterans didn´'t know how to stop the war, how to turn the war off, without turning their lives off.”
Michelle and Joel worked with the US Army in the ‘80s after the Vietnam war. At the time, the army had realised that more veterans died from suicide after the war than soldiers died in the war.
After a two years research period, where Michelle and Joel consulted many of their teachers, they delivered a groundbreaking programme based on mindfulness, compasion, neuroscience and behavioral science.
They worked with the soldiers for 6 months full time, which included a 1 month silent retreat and the results were remarkable in terms of performance and overall mental and physical wellbeing.
Michelle and Joel also worked with countless organizations from all around the world. Unlike many “Mc Mindfulness” programmes that are offered these days, Michelle and Joel´s work is always deeply embedded in these organisations and achieved deep transformation and cultural change.
The Great Unraveling
Joel and Michelle explain that currently, we are experiencing the great unraveling. The notion of the great unraveling is based on the recognition that so many of the systems and structures that we've created are based on ignorant perceptions of the nature of reality, and that the systems and structures we created are unsustainable.
They propose two main categories that we should focus on to build a more sustainable future for humanity:
Developing our inner resources and presence to really show up and listen deeply to ourselves and each other.
Learning how to build healthy, thriving networks, organizations, and communities.
Palma’s Practice on Transforming Anger
This week, we would like to offer you a practice on how you can work with anger or difficult emotions.
Joel mentioned that underneath the anger, there is frustration, and underneath that, there is usually something you really care about.
So we invite you to take a moment and ask yourself if there is any area or situation in your life that you are currently angry or frustrated about.
How can you use the energy that you are currently using to reject the situation to really attend to the thing you care about?
Then, just see what happens.
About our Guests, Michelle and Joel Levey
The Levey´s are the founders of Wisdom at Work and The International Center for Corporate Culture and Organizational Health at InnerWork Technologies. Their pioneering work spans many disciplines and decades. They are respected for being among the very first professionals to introduce mindfulness and mind-fitness training, interpersonal neurobiology, collective wisdom, deep systems thinking, and contemplative science into mainstream business, medicine, higher education, sports, and government arenas – having begun this work in the 70s when it was anything but mainstream. They have written numerous books and worked with hundreds of organizations all over the world including NASA; Google; Intel, the British Parliament; the U.S. Army Special Forces, Stanford, and MIT.
Nobel Laureate, the Dalai Lama, an advisor on a number of the Leveys’ projects once wrote in a letter to the Leveys: “You are presently engaged in work that has great prospects for bringing the Dharma (the inner sciences of human transformation) to a very wide section of people who may not under ordinary circumstances come into contact with these teachings. I am very pleased about the work that you are doing and send you blessings and prayers for your success.”
The Leveys really walk their talk and are incredibly curious and passionate for life. They radiate joy and compassion, and their wealth of experience and wisdom ranges from working with First Nations Teachers to Tibetan masters, from mindfulness to plant medicine and from hospices to Olympic athletes, armed forces and board rooms.
A special thanks to Michelle and Joel Levey for taking the time to share their inspiring story and insights with us.
Continue Your Journey
Now it is time to find your own unique path. We can help you to connect with your innate wisdom and create an inspiring vision for a deeply fulfilling and meaningful life. Apply for a discovery session on our website,palmamichel.com.
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