In 1972, I was a 30-year-old American traveling in India, with the smell of incense in my hair and mantras repeating in my ears.
If you had told me then that I would someday be training corporates to apply contemplative practices to help them become more successful, I would have said you'd been standing too long in India's hot noonday sun.
Yet not long ago, I was standing in front of employees at Google in Mountain View.
They were dutifully following my instructions to feel the sensations of their breath as it passed in and out of their nostrils, and learning how to send e-mail mindfully, by taking three deep breaths before hitting "send."
I am a co-founder of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, a nonprofit organisation that is now 16 years old, and we have undertaken a daunting task: to convince people in their workplaces that the simple meditation techniques developed 2,500 years ago by the Buddha might help increase productivity, reduce absenteeism and inspire greater creativity.
We have introduced contemplative exercises that can reduce stress and heart rate and increase attention and awareness of self and others. We teach what we call "mindful listening," so that a speaker is fully heard.
As we continue exploring the benefits of mindfulness for work, scientists are researching the effects of the practices on the brain.
Neuroscientists have confirmed much of what we were experiencing: that meditation improves attention, reduces stress hormones, increases appreciation and compassion for others and helps us recover faster from negative information.
Personally, this work has made me feel more connected to the world. It turns out that people work better when they are happy and feel aligned with their work. I know I do. NYT