A day of mindfulness at Dreamforce: Book review and the amazing story of Google's Chade Meng Tan

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This year at Dreamforce I was excited about Friday, the last day at the conference for the mindfulness sessions on offer.

Mindfulness is a topic that I have had a keen interest in over the past couple of years; the role it plays in peoples lives, health, in organisations and also in technology. I think we are seeing our devices, apps, conversations and interactions becoming more readily mindful. And it’s playing a greater role in education, organisations and professional development.

A great book that I’ve recently read is Search Inside Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan, early Google engineer and personal growth pioneer.

I was fortunate to have a non-stop 14 hour flight from Sydney to San Francisco, which certainly helped in terms of finding time to actually read a book, instead of the usual skim read, multi task, check phone, repeat cycle – I know that I’m not the only person who finds themselves in this time-poor trap.

To start this is the only book on mindfulness that really hit home for me and gave me the practice skills to apply straight away.

There has been a lot of discussion on mindfulness in particular its effectiveness and whether we should be discussing it in organisations. I get some pretty harsh opinions on mindfulness at times – So why the harsh opinions?

Many causes for doubt arise from the why, how and science of mindfulness. Taking a pragmatic and practical approach are areas that have been challenging particularly for those who are immersed in western culture, where there is limited context or experience with mediation.

This book does a great job at explaining the practice, the science and empirical evidence for the benefits of Mindfulness and in his Jolly good fellow way, Chade-Meng Tan takes you on this journey with ease.

I know its important for me to begin developing mindfulness. My excuse has always been “I’m way too busy”, “I enjoy my caffeine fuelled brain”. frenetic behaviour is something of a norm and ultimately leads to us thinking too much and actually avoiding taking time to use/ un-use our brains to learn the art and discipline of meditation and mindfulness.

Its not as daunting and mind bending as it seems and shouldn’t be considered so (Point 2: turn off the pressuring little voice inside). There are small lessons that can help everyone along the path towards being mindful:

1. Being in the moment
2. Turning the little voice off
3. Letting go
4. Taking time to recover and refresh the body and mind particularly without a screen
5. Focusing on breathing

I’m inspired to do more, practice more and go back to the book over and over again. I’m also happy for now just to practice the first few steps and take my time to achieve these before the next ones. I know I may hit the drop off point, so I have set a reminder in my diary for time and ensure I have the commitment to progress.

I think if this book can impact me and help me not only gain more understanding of mindfulness, but to also begin to practice it then many others will too. Make this your next read, switch off Netflx and spend a few hours to read this book, it just may change your life and if Chade-Meng Tan has anything to do with it the world should follow!

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