The un informed visitor at Googleplex may find himself perplexed when he sees the presentation room filled with techies perched in half-lotus position, meditating. His confusion is justified since it is hard to imagine that the corporation that prides itself in thinking ahead of tomorrow is now looking back at centuries-old traditions to bring out the best in its employees.
Google is embracing Buddhist meditative practices in a big way. Zen masters and monks routinely tour the campus, the company has instituted self-awareness courses like Search Inside Yourself, Neural Self-Hacking and Managing Your Energy, designed to teach people to manage their emotions through meditation, and Googlers are signing up for these classes in droves.
No, Google isn’t renouncing its worldly searches. Quiet contemplation is the new buzzword in Silicon Valley, with the region’s heavyweights like Twitter and Facebook jumping aboard the neo-spiritual bandwagon.
Contemplative practices and meditation sessions has become key features of employee training in most firms. As in all things in the Valley, the centuries-old practices has been innovated to suit the Valley’s goal-oriented culture. Forget Nirvana, the not-so-lofty aim of these endeavours is all about training the brain to unleash productivity.
Research suggests that meditation can rewire the brain’s response to stress and helps improve memory and executive functions. Exercises in ‘ mindfulness’ – paying close, nonjudgmental attention – help understand a coworkers’ motivations and cultivate emotional intelligence. In the hyper-kinetic Silicon Valley, these self-regulation practices strengthen emotional resilience, and is a better coping mechanism than fast-food therapy.
Chade-Meng Tan, a Google employee and creator of the Search Inside Yourself programme, defines it as the Zen of Google. The course is a series of meditation exercises wrapped in the package of emotional intelligence. “The other-centricity that meditation breeds can boost your trajectory,” says Meng ,who believes that in a place like Google, where there is no dearth of high intelligence quotient, the differentiating factor that sets you apart from the rest is having high emotional intelligence.
Frustrated by his divorce, work stress and twitter addiction, Soren Gordhamer wrote a book – Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected. The book was no bestseller, but its message of living mindfully, wisely and compassionately in the digital age set off ripples of introspection in the tech community that culminated in the launch of the annual conference Wisdom 2.0.
The event serves as a connector of the technology and contemplative communities. The vision behind wisdom being, tapping our inner wisdom even as we integrate more and more technology into our lives, and keep them from taking over.
Wisdom 2013 drew huge crowds and the attendees included headliners like Jeff Weiner, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, and, Arianna Huffington, who describes the event as her version of Disneyland.
Meditation therapy is growing deep roots in the Valley which is no stranger to New Age fad cycles. The tech biz is taking periodic pauses in the rat race, trying to connect the dots between spirituality and technology, to find the bigger picture.
Global India Newswire
- Meditation Isn’t Just About Inner Peace — In The Valley, It’s About Getting Ahead (wired.com)
- Enlightenment engineers: meditation and mindfulness in Silicon Valley (wired.co.uk)
- Meditation in the workplace is growing (meaningfulwesternlife.com)
- Mindfulness goes corporate – and purists aren’t pleased (mind-revolution.org)
- Buddhist monk finds Google, Facebook might hold the key to eternal happiness (mind-revolution.org)