10 videos for deeper self-awareness and compassion

-Shachi Mohta and -Ipsita Malaviya

As we enter the sixth week of working from home in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased interaction with technology and opportunities to turn inward and reflect on our processes and outputs. 

When relating closely with the Self and the Other, SEL components like self-awareness and management, and relationship skills like compassion assume paramount importance. We thus bring to you a hand-picked list of talks that help pave paths deeper into the self, and also towards others — happy watching!

  1. Brene Brown: Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count

Brene Brown is a researcher most famous for her work on vulnerability, courage, shame, and empathy — she has authored almost ten books, hosts a podcast, and has performed a Netflix special. Her research has been published by NPR, CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, and her talk on vulnerability at TED in 2011 went viral within days of release. 

Here, Brown addresses a room-full of designers to unpack vulnerability in the context of creativity. Covering self-doubt, criticism from oneself and others, fear, anxiety, and comparison, Brown delivers a moving and inspiring talk in her inimitable and endearing style.

  1. Matthieu Ricard: Talk + guided meditations on altruistic love and compassion

TED talk: How to let altruism be your guide

Matthieu Ricard was born in France to a philosopher and an artist who was a Buddhist nun. He completed a PhD in molecular genetics before dropping his career in science to focus on Tibetan Buddhism, retreating to the Himalayas for five years in total solitude to cultivate a spiritual practice. Ricard has written several books exploring philosophy, science and Buddhism, and translated Buddhist texts. Associated with several institutions across the world, Ricard is engaged in the research of the effects of mind training and meditation on the brain. He has been called the ‘happiest person in the world’, and has spoken at numerous international forums such as World Happiness Forum, UN conferences, Global Economic Symposium, and World Economic Forum. 

The first link is to a talk Ricard gave at Google, where he intersperses his sharing of Buddhist wisdom with brief examples of meditation techniques, while the second link is to a TED talk. 

  1. J Krishnamurti: On the difference between thinking about and observing oneself

Jiddu Krishnamurti was a philosopher, writer and speaker born in India at the end of the 19th century. His teachings are focussed around inquiry, relating, the nature of the mind, and psychological revolution. He emphasised a need for individuals to focus on their inner worlds with open-ended curiosity, and asserted that no change could occur in society, politics, or religion, unless the humans comprising these structures did not transform themselves. He was hailed to be a great spiritual leader and teacher, however he rejected titles and honours, instead imploring his followers to deeply inquire independently into his teachings before accepting them as truth. Krishnamurti had a special interest in the power of education to catalyse this psychological revolution he deemed necessary, and he set up schools across India and in the UK to function as per his philosophy and teachings. In this talk, he constructively shares insights about self-observation, unpacking the question and its constituent parts with precision and clarity.

  1. Massimo Pigliucci: Stoicism as a philosophy for ordinary life

Parallel to the growing popularity of mindfulness and Buddhist practices is the current revival of Stoic philosophy, which originated in ancient Greece. Stoicism is a philosophy of personal ethics informed by a system of logic and reasoning, and understanding of the natural world, i.e. axiological insight / virtue ethics based on epistemology and ontology. It proposes that the path to happiness for social beings like humans is in accepting each present moment as it is, transcending pleasure and pain, using one’s mind to understand the world and nature, and collaborating to treat one another fairly and justly.

Massimo Pigliucci is a renowned philosophy professor, writer and speaker, whose academic focus lies in the philosophy of science, and relationship between science and religion. In this TED talk, he shares the history and central tenets of Stoic philosophy, and reveals how it can enhance ordinary lives.

  1. Anil Seth: Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality

Anil Seth is a prolific professor of cognitive and computational neuroscience, and heads a lab that studies the science of consciousness. In this compelling TED talk, Seth contextualises consciousness, shows how human perception can be an unreliable marker for reality, reveals the brain’s work in tricking the mind into misperceiving, and shares the implications of understanding reality as “controlled hallucinations that we all agree about.” 

  1. Tasha Eurich – Increase your self-awareness with one quick fix

Self-awareness has countless proven benefits — stronger relationships, higher performance, more effective leadership. Sounds pretty great, right? Here’s the bad news: 95% of people think that they’re self-aware, but only 10-15% actually are! Luckily, Tasha Eurich has a simple solution that will instantly improve your self-awareness. As a third-generation entrepreneur, Dr. Tasha Eurich was born with a passion for business, pairing her scientific savvy in human behavior with a practical approach to solving business challenges. As an organizational psychologist, she’s helped thousands of leaders improve their effectiveness, from Fortune 500 executives to early-stage entrepreneurs. Her new book, Insight, reveals the findings of her three-year research program on self-awareness, which she calls the meta-skill of the 21st century.

  1. Isaac Lidsky – What reality are you creating for yourself?

Reality isn’t something you perceive; it’s something you create in your mind. Isaac Lidsky learned this profound lesson firsthand, when unexpected life circumstances yielded valuable insights. In this introspective, personal talk, he challenges us to let go of excuses, assumptions and fears, and accept the awesome responsibility of being the creators of our own reality.

  1. Swami Dayanand Saraswati – The powerful journey of compassion

Swami Dayananda Saraswati unravels the parallel paths of personal development and attaining true compassion. He walks us through each step of self-realization, from helpless infancy to the fearless act of caring for others.

  1. Joan Halifax – Compassion and the true meaning of empathy

Buddhist roshi Joan Halifax works with people at the last stage of life (in hospice and on death row). She shares what she’s learned about compassion in the face of death and dying, and a deep insight into the nature of empathy.

  1. Juliette Watt – Compassion Fatigue: What is it and do you have it?

In this compelling talk, Juliette introduces us to “Compassion Fatigue.” A hugely pervasive syndrome that not only affects people like professional caregivers but also most of us one way or another. Juliette herself has suffered from Compassion Fatigue first hand and she is very passionate about sharing the insidious nature of this syndrome and the devastating effects it can have on your life. Compassion Fatigue can potentially happen to any age group. From people in their twenties right up to their senior years.

Born and raised in London, England, Juliette was a stunt horse rider for MGM pictures then later a London Playboy Bunny. Moving to NYC in her forties, she thrived as a soap opera scriptwriter, winning two Writers Guild Awards and a nomination for a Daytime Emmy.  She then became an ATP pilot and Master Flight Instructor which led her to working for 10 years at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, eventually flying rescue missions to save animals. Currently she is on a passionate mission to help and guide people who have lost themselves in who they’ve been for everyone else. 

We hope you enjoyed watching these videos as much as we enjoyed curating them! We’d love to hear from you, so write to us in the comments section! Perhaps with speakers or ideas you most resonated with, or what insights and reflections came up for you while watching, or which speakers’ work you’d like to further explore, or just to say hi and spread some home-y cheer! 🙂

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About the Author: 

Shachi is a Programme Fellow at Apni Shala. She has a professional background in K-10 curriculum design, trade book publishing, curation, and events programming; also in the facilitation of ecology awareness programs, IGCSE curricula, and Non-Violent Communication with children and adults. Shachi finds delight in nature and the wilderness, profound conversations, solo travels, wholesome food, and dance.

Ipsita is a Programme Coordinator at Apni Shala. She has a background in counselling psychology and has studied mental health and psychology for the past 7 years. She is often found writing, reading academic and non-academic literature, exploring cultures and being on the lookout for new connections.

Loved reading this piece? At Apni Shala, we are committed to bring you more SEL-aligned resources during this pandemic. Our work is dependent on generous donations from our supporters. If you found this useful, make a donation here: I would love to donate to Apni Shala.

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