Google offers its “brainy overachievers” a course designed to “calm their minds on demand and build inner joy while succeeding at work,” reports Robin Rauzi in The Los Angeles Times (2/23/13). The seven-week course is called Search Inside Yourself, and it was developed by Chade-Meng Tan, who has since written a best selling book and founded a nonprofit institute “to teach mindful leadership at other companies.” Currently, there’s a 500-person waiting list for the course at Google, which offers other “mindfulness classes” such as Neural Self-Hacking and Software Engineering of the Mind.
Janice Marturano developed a similar curriculum at General Mills, and subsequently founded the Institute for Mindful Leadership. “There is no way for us to expect the kind of excellence and performance that we need to stay ahead of the competition and be innovative without fully training the mind,” she says. The goal for students, essentially, is to learn how “to pay attention — to what’s happening around them as well as to emotions rising within them — so that they can react more skillfully in any situation.”
The concept, says Jeremy Hunter, who teaches a “mindfulness” class at the Drucker School of Management, is “to see yourself in a dispassionate and clear way.” He cites Adam Smith as a pioneer, and says mindfulness is “part of our Western philosophical tradition.” The approach is backed by “hundreds of published studies showing that the adult brain is actually quite malleable and can be rewired for more happiness and calm … Studies using functional MRIs have recorded change in other parts of the brain as well after just eight weekly mindfulness classes and daily practice averaging 27 minutes.”