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Leaders can easily get caught up in the demands, tasks, and activities related to their work. The ability to create a sense of calm, presence, and attention in our active and challenging world is a crucial skill. 

Our reliance on technology can also create a sense of disconnect from the self. Instead, we sometimes need to disconnect from these demands and devices to reconnect with ourselves and the world around us. 

Fellows with ILEs on this theme strive to experience personal presence: moving from a distracted state of constant external stimulation to being able to focus and be fully present in the moment. These ILEs also emphasize growing their capacity for self-compassion and, by extension, fostering compassion for others.

Learning Goals:

  • Cultivate the ability to stay present in mind, body, and spirit
  • Quiet the mind chatter that distracts from what is truly important
  • Come home to themselves and what matters most
  • Increase self-compassion and foster compassion for others


  • An outgoing Fellow who seeks to reconnect with their inner-self and well-being, while disconnecting from the daily grind, will spend a week at the Upaya Zen Center. There they will work with a teacher and learn to calm their mind and listen to their own silence to self-reflect.
  • A Fellow who aims to transform themselves into a more self-compassionate and mindful human being will embark on a four-day retreat with the Compassion Institute. There they will learn deep systems transformation, which can only occur hand-in-hand with self and collective inner inquiry and discovery.

Being alone for two weeks was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. I felt hyperaware of all the beauty surrounding me: the taste of my food; the heaviness of the air and heat on my skin; and the sights, sounds, and smells. I’ve brought this renewed sense of appreciation back with me and continue to develop my practice of meditation at home. It has already helped me to be more focused and present for myself and others. - Amy Miller

ILE Video Reflection

Rachael Wong, Cohort III