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Meditation at Google?

Two recent reports in New York Times tell the story: meditation is now mainstream.

Is it me? Or have you also noticed that the New York Times seems to be publishing a report on meditation almost every week now?

Twelve years ago the futurist Faith Popcorn was predicting we’d see walking meditations become part of mainstream religions. But who would have predicted meditation at the office?

Two recent reports suggest that—seemingly overnight—meditation has become firmly established in the culture. Last week The Times wrote that yoga studios are now reporting a greater interest in the practice:

“The yoga community in New York City has matured,” Ms. Lee said. “I remember a time when we started with five minutes of meditation and a woman got annoyed and said: ‘I want to move. I want to sweat.’ Now they want to meditate.”

But why with other people?

“Meditation is kind of like a dance class in that it’s better with other people,” said David Grotell, a student at my Ishta Yoga class. “There’s something about the energy. It would seem that if you’re not talking to people you’re not in contact, but you somehow feel close to others when you are meditating in a way that is not obvious.”

Until recently, people have tended to see meditation as out-of-the-mainstream. But meditation expert and teacher Sharon Salzberg reports a quintupling of attendance at some of her gatherings.

“Meditation is no longer seen as fringe, esoteric and weird,” Ms. Salzberg said. “Its main association is now its link as a stress-reduction modality, and not just for coping, but also for flourishing.”

This week, another story in The Times “OK, Google, Take a Deep Breath” told of a wildly popular class being given at Google called “Search Inside Yourself,” which teaches hard-driven engineers and coders how to utilize “mindfulness at work.”

The class has three steps: attention training, self-knowledge and self-mastery, and the creation of useful mental habits.

If it sounds a bit touchy-feely, consider this: More than 1,000 Google employees have taken the class, and there’s a waiting list of 30 when it’s offered, four times a year. The class accepts 60 people and runs seven weeks.

Richard Fernandez, director of executive development and a psychologist by training, says he sees a significant difference in his work behavior since taking the class. “I’m definitely much more resilient as a leader,” he says. “I listen more carefully and with less reactivity in high-stakes meetings. I work with a lot of senior executives who can be very demanding, but that doesn’t faze me anymore. It’s almost an emotional and mental bank account. I’ve now got much more of a buffer there.”

You can read Putting Meditation Back on the Mat by clicking hereand O.K. Google Take a Deep Breath by clicking here.

Your reflections are welcome. Please LEAVE A COMMENT below. You can find my weekly blogpost (and meditation archive) on Patch easily anytime. Just click Local Voices on your Patch home page and SEARCH LOCAL VOICES.  

Rabbi Mark Sameth is the spiritual leader of Joyful Judaism: Pleasantville Community Synagogue an inclusive, progressive synagogue—with members from 20 towns, villages and cities all across Westchester and “A Hebrew School Your Kids Can Love.” Read The New York Times article. Follow Rabbi Mark on Twitter. Weekly meditation at the synagogue every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. is open to the public. Everyone—without exception—is welcome and warmly invited.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rebekah Shackney May 04, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Great post, Mark! Thanks for sharing. Meditation can be so beneficial in so many ways from making you more present in life to decreasing pain (physical and emotional).
Rabbi Mark Sameth May 04, 2012 at 07:29 PM
Thanks, Rebekah. For all of its many benefits, it's good to see that this practice is moving quickly into the mainstream...

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