Mediation is becoming the new norm at Google HQ. I know what you are thinking…. “only in America!” Well could they be onto something?
We’re basically the descendants of nervous monkeys,” says Bill Duane (an IT geek turned zen master) the kind with hair-trigger fight-or-flight responses. In the modern workplace, these hyperactive reflexes are now a detriment, turning minor squabbles into the emotional equivalents of kill-or-be-killed showdowns. In such situations, the amygdala—the region of the brain believed to be responsible for processing fear—can override the rest of the mind’s ability to think logically. We become slaves to our monkey minds.
I’m all for reducing stress and diffusing emotional outbursts at work but I do wonder if this practice is disinclusive. Will those who don’t wish to take part be alienated or discriminated against? Not promoted perhaps due to being perceived as ‘unwilling to better themselves’. And is it being done for the right reasons?
Googlers don’t take up meditation just to keep away the sniffles or get a grip on their emotions. They are also using it to understand their coworkers’ motivations, to cultivate their own “emotional intelligence”—a characteristic that tends to be in short supply among the engineering set.
“Everybody knows this EI thing is good for their career,” says Search Inside Yourself founder Meng. “And every company knows that if their people have EI, they’re gonna make a shitload of money.”
Is this type of meditation being offered, with a view to increasing money, missing the point of zen? A sort of GM version of it; all there on paper but missing the heart and soul? Let’s just hope the side effect is actual emotional intelligence and not just “shitloads of money”.