2016’s Interactive & Film Festival felt like a different SXSW than I’ve experienced the last couple of years. There’s always an underlying tech theme, but with everything internet/social media connected anyway, there was room for more personal growth, purpose and inspiring action.
Perhaps I’m more attracted to sessions that expand my approach to life and bring more meaning to my everyday existence, but I was finding even with the keynote speakers a softening of the self.
For the longest time, startup and tech culture have been about pouring all your energy, time, blood, sweat and tears toward launching something first. From that, you look at data, even more data, metrics, analysis, engagement, yada yada yada. It was very calculated and taxing and ego driven.
What I noticed last year was a push for physical ways to address tech stress through yoga and meditation. This is the initial step for many to begin the practice of yoga; to undo the modern day abuse to our minds and bodies through a physical practice.
However, this year, the conversations go deeper than the surface. And this is where I felt the real yoga that I study and practice comes in.
Brene Brown, a University of Houston research professor, gave an inspiring talk about what courage really is. One of my favorite quotes from her session was, “Courage is the willingness to show up and let yourself be seen – deeply seen.”
She also talked about how our minds get attached to the stories we create to make sense of our world, never questioning the accuracy of them. When we are hurt or scared or angry, our emotional brain overtakes the rational, and then our stories drive our actions.
I loved this quote as well. “The bravest among us all know heartbreak. They had the courage to love deeply.” There is so much truth in those statements, and my eyes immediately teared up as I thought about my dad. I know the shattering pain of loss only because my love for him was so deep. I continue to allow my vulnerability to be seen because I know that is the only way I can heal and connect with others.
The opening keynote, Casey Gerald, also talked about vulnerability – to lean into it, to be open to connection with other people and to doubt the gospel/security/attachment/promise/hope that we are fed. When we stop relying on blind faith in our institutions or status quo or the establishment, possibilities start to open up to do better and to find another way. “It’s possible that we are wrong and raises the question, why are people suffering so bad?”
Since I had a Gold badge, I took advantage of catching whatever films I could, usually the late night showing after I was done teaching yoga. A surprising documentary I enjoyed was Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru. If you remember Tony Robbins from the ‘90s, he seemed like an overhyped motivational speaker for desperate people. (These were my judgy teen years, mind you.)
Let me eat my own judgmental teen thoughts because once I got past his big personality and trampoline jumping routine, I was on board with his overall message. Get out of your own head. Lean into your fears to break through them. Face your truth head on. (BTW, the film will debut on Netflix on July 15.)
I still have a lot of other sessions to go back and watch online as I tried not to feel tied to a rigid schedule. I’ll leave you with some pics I took over my “Spring Break” and then I’ll file this chapter away until next year’s SXSW!