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Balanced Dukes Annual Conference

March 9, 2020

Please see below for session times and descriptions.  Register now by clicking here.

9:00 – 10:00 am

Exploring Joy

Have you ever wondered why balloons make us happy? Or why we stop to watch the orange glow that arrives before sunset? Or have you caught yourself using "happiness" and "joy" interchangeably? We will be exploring what “joy” means to you and to your colleagues, and explore how you can find joy in simple things. During our time together, we will uncover the surprising and powerful effects that mundane spaces and objects have on our mood.


The Glorification of Busy

What is the appeal of being busy and how might it be getting in the way of living a balanced life? People believe that being chronically busy is a badge of honor. It makes people feel important. It might make people feel needed at work but it is probably hurting your health. Try answering the questions ‘How Are You?’ with a new narrative, instead of by saying you’re busy! Practice new ways of responding that address what you’re working on, what you enjoy, and what you really want to accomplish.

10:10 – 11:10 am

Zen Meditation Sampler

Curious about Zen meditation? “Beginner’s mind is the best mind,” says Roshi Shunryu Suzuki! Come learn about a few of the ideas underlying Zen, and explore how they might relate to self, community, family, and work. The majority of the session will be spent trying out a sampling of meditation techniques inspired by Zen principles and practice. These practices are relevant for people of diverse religions, or no religion. Attendees will experience: - Thich Nhat Hanh’s present moment meditation and pebble meditation - Sitting meditation (zazen) - Walking meditation (kinhin) The session will conclude with ideas and discussion about integrating practice into one’s work day.


Maintaining Wellness in Difficult Work Environments

Employment and career opportunities that we hold substantially influence our well-being and mental health. Furthermore, all work environments will impact our sense of belonging, purpose, and fulfillment. John Holland developed a theory on the intersection between individual personality and the characteristics of work environments that will be used to shed light on why certain jobs meet more of our needs and preferences than others. Through participating in this session, participants will develop further self-awareness into their personality characteristics and values, identify work environments and demands that align with their personality, and develop strategies for maintaining wellness despite difficulties in the workplace.


11:20 am – 1:00 pm

Keynote Lunch (registration required for meal)


1:10 – 2:10 pm

Passion and Work-Life Balance:  The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Over the years, there has been much debate about whether “following your passion” is a good idea. Some, like Steve Jobs, have argued that “going all in” and “doing what you love” is the only way to achieve career success. Although a good amount of both anecdotal and scientific evidence supports this notion, more recently, psychological research has shown that passion can actually have a dark side. In this talk, I will discuss the concept of passion along with some recent research showing that passion can enhance work-life balance but that, at times, it can also disrupt work-life balance.

Building a Self-Care Action Plan

Many wait until stress, anxiety, and urgency ensues to care for themselves. Is this you? Learn the importance of creating an action plan for mental health and self-care prior to the crisis moment. In addition to understanding the importance, spend time creating an action plan. You will walk away with knowledge, skill sets, and strategies for caring for yourself.


2:20 – 3:20 pm

How to Achieve Financial Peace of Mind

With data breaches, online scams and credit card fraud, it's hard not to be concerned about identity theft. While many consumers are concerned, most feel helpless to do anything about it. Join CommonWealth One FCU and learn how to limit your risk of becoming a victim of fraud; some of the most common ways criminals acquire personal information; and what to do if you think your information has been compromised.


Cultivating Empowered Productivity & Mindfulness

This presentation will provide a framework creating journal spreads can help you track productivity, set goals, and practice mindfulness all in one place; we will illustrate how a combination of form and function promote engagement, self-reflection, and organization. People are claiming control over their lives—and minds—through this method of organization. Creating unique journal spreads enables the use of crafting as a relational, performative, and activist act. Bullet journals help take large, daunting goals and break them into manageable pieces–we aim to do the same with the process of starting your own journal. The co-presenters recently spoke on this topic at the 2019 Feminisms & Rhetorics Conference and will tailor this information to a conversation surrounding goals and work-life balance.


3:30 – 4:30 pm

How Gratitude Can Rewire Your Brain

The Mindfulness Awareness Research Center of UCLA stated that gratitude does change the neural structures in the brain, and make us feel happier and more content. Feeling grateful and appreciating others when they do something good for us triggers the ‘good’ hormones and regulates effective functioning of the immune system. Researchers have suggested that by activating the reward center of the brain, gratitude exchange alters the way we see the world and ourselves. When actively integrate gratitude into our daily lives, our brain is automatically redirected to pay attention to what we have, producing intrinsic motivation and a strong awareness of the present. This presentation will aim to inform the audience of the current state-of-the evidence on gratitude and its effect on neuroanatomical/chemical changes as well as provide practical tips on incorporating intentional gratitude practices into our everyday lives.


Creative Distractions

If you are a creative person you may find that if you do not create, you will destruct. This presentation will encourage the act of creativity as a way to grow, relax, and transform.





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