Grant Rix presented at the ICM (NZ) 2019
The International Conference on Mindfulness (ICM) was hosted by AUT in Auckland from February 9 – 13, bringing a unique South-Pacific and indigenous element to a conference that has been concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere up to this point.
Grant delivered a pre-conference workshop exploring the four foundations of mindfulness, co-presented on Pause, Breathe, Smile research with Dr Ross Bernay from AUT (in which they got all attendees participating in the ‘neuron dance’ – a real crowd pleaser and a favourite activity of the PBS programme!) and sat on a panel exploring the importance of bicultural approaches to mindfulness in New Zealand.
A special feature of this conference, started from the outset with the Mihi Whakatau or Māori welcome. The Kaumatua Māori elder opened with a karakia (prayer) acknowledging Māori space and time. In his welcome speech he acknowledged our natural environment and our ancestors.
He then welcomed and addressed the experts explaining that he was glad that they were here as he was not familiar with mindfulness practices. He continued by welcoming all overseas visitors to NZ, people travelled within NZ and lastly tangata whenua or the people of this land. His group supported his welcome speech by singing a waiata.
This traditional welcome ensured everyone in the auditorium were acknowledged for where they came from and what they brought to the present time and space, providing a sense of settlement and calm. The meaning of Mihi Whakatau is a welcome speech to settle, and needs further discussion as a bicultural practice.
The conference had strong Māori attendance by those Māori practising in mindfulness. The bicultural workshops and presentations provided opportunities for this to be explored further. Joni Gordon’s presentation highlighted the dissonance and resonance that are revealed when reconciling mindfulness with an indigenous worldview.
Joni has worked closely with us over the past year, and is the voice of the te reo Māori versions of our PBS guided audio tracks. Together with the Mental Health Foundation and thanks to the support of Trust Waikato, Joni has been exploring Māori approaches to mindfulness as part of her PhD.
The conference was well attended with delegates travelling from universities around the world to present their research on the multiple applications of mindfulness that are happening internationally.
It was great for Grant to build connections with others working to bring mindfulness into education, and even better to hear that they many are already following and learning from our work here in Aotearoa!