LFCS Book Club: Search Inside Yourself
Search Inside Yourself – The secret path to unbreakable concentration, complete relaxation and total self-control
Book Review by Kelly Maniatis
I sought to see how a company, such as Google, utilised a program based on the concepts of mindfulness and emotional intelligence. At Left Field we were recently asked to deliver some training on helping people adjust to the constant changes in the workplace. We know that changes in the workplace create stress and anxiety. What is required during these change periods are meaningful tools that employees and leaders can utilise to find calm and composer despite adversity.
Our own research on this topic drew us to the world of neuroscience, mindfulness and meditation as the tool basis for training. The research is new and exciting but also very dense and academic. Therefore, I wanted to see if there were any real world practical programs we could draw from. This is how I stumbled across “Search Inside Yourself”. This book was developed by an Engineer (working at Google) who created a program for mindfulness and emotional intelligence to be implemented at Google!
The book details transparently the program that was developed however, I was particularly hooked on this line…
For the benefits of meditation to become widely accessible to humanity, it cannot just be the domain of bald people in funny robes living in mountains, or small groups of New Age folks in San Francisco. Meditation needs to become "real." It needs to align with the lives and interests of real people.
When going into organisations and asking staff to close their eyes and mediate, it can be a hard sell. But we have discovered the scientific evidence is so compelling to help stressed/anxious people in and outside the workplace it becomes an obvious choice to make!
The book is generous in providing the reader the activities, facilitation and methodologies to run a program and I’m grateful to Chade-Meng Tan for believing in the spirit of knowledge sharing and collaboration. I found insightful activities to introduce to our programs and one that I really liked was Mindful Listening; I would like to share this with you:
Mindful listening is active listening – but it is an experiential process that I think opens individual’s minds and brains to be able to fully listen. In pairs, one person is to speak for a full three minutes on whatever topic is on their minds. If they cannot think of anything, they are to sit in silence until another thought comes along, then continue in conversation. The other person is to listen and remain focused on the speaker, when the mind wanders off, the listener is to gently direct their mind and focus back to the speaker.After the speaker finishes their 3 minutes of speaking, the listener repeats back what they heard. The dialogue goes back and forth until the speaker is fully satisfied that the listener has understood them. This can go for up to 6 minutes. They switch places and carry out instructions again. Then for 4 minutes the pair discuss their experiences.
There are many examples in this book that provide practical techniques to help individuals become mindful in the workplace. As Chade-Meng is an engineer he really strives to demonstrate mindfulness and emotional intelligence in real tangible terms, using hard evidence and practical experiences.
The book goes into some of the neuroscience, however it is not a book that you would go to understand the field of neuroscience and mindfulness (instead read “The emotional life of your brain”by Richard J Davidson). Chade-Menge is affectionally known at Google as “That google guy” and you can really sense his personality (geeky, pokes fun of himself and humble). He tells thought-provoking stories and has some interesting people he counts as friends (Daniel Goleman, Paul Ekman, Dali Larma, Matthieu Ricard, Thic Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn, just to name a few). You begin to understand he is amongst the pioneers of neuroscience, emotional intelligence, mindfulness and mediation and through this book he is giving you an invitation to hang out with his circle of friends.
Thank you Chade-Meng Tan for making mindfulness in the workplace something that is accessible to the corporate world and not just some far flung notion that only people who have checked out of the corporate world understand. This is a book for those that want to find peace, happiness and success in their workplace, and for their homes, families and friends.
I’m now off to do some desk-top yoga now!!
- Book Review by Kelly Maniatis