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Lions Roar : September 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN SepteMBer 2009 35 Yourself (sIY). Googlers—as employees there are known— operate with a lot of autonomy and are urged to be free spirits. For example, meng just up and decided to call himself Google’s “Jolly Good Fellow” and had cards printed adding the phrase, “which nobody can deny.” As Google’s Jolly Good Fellow, meng has become Google’s unofficial VIP greeter. Behind the recep- tion desk in one of the main Google buildings is meng’s Wall, a gallery of snapshots of meng standing next to luminaries like Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, Gwyneth Paltrow, nancy Pelosi, muhammad Ali, and more than one hundred and fifty others— and counting. Google employees like meng spend one day in five working on whatever inspires them, regardless of profit potential. so he didn’t need to get rich to start a meditation program at Google. But achieving financial freedom somehow enabled meng to think big about what he could do for the world—sadly not al- ways the first thought of those who strike it rich. For meng and the many collaborators he has brought together, sIY is more than a corporate meditation program. Just as Google’s found- ers saw their search engine as a way to influence how people work with information altogether, the sIY designers see it as a working model for how to bring mindfulness and peace to work, a place where people spend vast amounts of time. If they develop mindfulness there, it will spill over into the rest of their lives and influence all those around them. “many people at Google spend 20 percent of their time on their own endeavors for saving the world through technology,” says norman Fischer, founder of the everyday Zen Foundation and one of the principal sIY teachers. “In some sense, that’s what meng is doing. he wants to make the world a better place through the ‘technology’ of meditation. he’s starting at home, within Google. And it’s working. For the people who take the course, it makes a difference in how they operate, how they communicate. they learn that they don’t have to leave their emotions at the door when they come to work. that’s big. If Wall street traders, for example, had had more emotional in- telligence, they might have realized the crazy derivatives they created were wrong.” According to mirabai Bush, senior fellow at the Center for Contemplative mind in society, who helped design the program Photo BY RICh GIBson Hot-shot geeks at the world’s leading information company are taking a ground-breaking course called Search Inside Yourself. As BARRY BOYCE reports, it’s a new model for teaching mindfulness and emotional intelligence, and its creator is thinking big.