Meditation gives your mind a minute

Erik Lam Dreamstime

Erik Lam Dreamstime

Chade-Meng Tan is Google’s official “Jolly Good Fellow,” with the responsibility to “enlighten minds, open hearts, and create world peace.”

He was an early Google employee, hired as an engineer, who used the time that Google sanctioned for personal creativity to establish a mindfulness-based course, “Search Inside Yourself,” that was wildly popular at Google and inspired a book.

Tan was a featured speaker in James Baraz’s Awakening Joy program, a five month-experiential program based on Baraz’s book by the same title. The onsite and online course guides participants in proven ways to bring more joy into their lives, and is highly recommended.

During the presentation, Tan provided compelling, scientifically supported evidence of the benefits of meditation, in this case–mindfulness meditation–one of two meditation techniques with mainstream acceptance. Mindfulness suggests bringing attention, usually by noticing the breath, to present activities. The other technique, Transcendental Meditation, is mantra-based, which means users sit quietly while focusing on a sound, word, or phrase.

Mindfulness meditation, Tan says, can free you from worry (the future) and regret (the past) and have profound positive benefits on your life. Unlike TM, which is criticized for its high price tag, mindfulness is widely available at no cost. Psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn was the first to popularize mindfulness when he used it in a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Program for chronic pain patients at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The MBSR program and its certified instructors remain the mindfulness gold standard.

Attesting to its ease of use, Tan challenged Baraz’s program participants to bring mindfulness to their lives in these easy ways:

  • Pay attention to the first 5 seconds of your daily shower
  • When the phone rings, pause and take a breath in and out before answering
  • Before you take the first bit of a meal do the same
  • Pick one chore each day and do it with mindful attention. (I hate making the bed, and tried it. It actually made me hate it less and went faster.)

Tan recounted an earlier presentation during which he challenged workers to pick a person(s) and spend just 10 seconds every hour during their workday wishing–just thinking–for that person to be happy. One participant of that workshop reported that after the exercise, she experienced the happiest day at work in seven years! This news didn’t surprise Tan who says that “being on the giving end of a kind thought is intrinsically rewarding.”

Finally, Tan, encouraged new meditators not to give up. His experience is that life changing benefits can be achieved in 100 hours, but reports that the Dali Lama indicated that 50 hours is sufficient. That’s only 150 twenty-minute sessions, which can be accomplished in a little more than two months. Isn’t it worth a try to experience the life-changing, scientifically proven freedom from worry and regret and sublime levels of joy? I’m in! You?

 

Updated: March 18, 2015 — 6:11 pm

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