A Buddhist monk at Salesforce’s tech conference showed me a great way to reduce stress

by Eugene Kim, Business Insider, Oct. 6, 2016

San Francisco, CA (USA) -- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is big on meditation. He not only practices “mindfulness” sessions a few times a week, he’s also built meditation rooms in Salesforce’s new office buildings to encourage his employees to do it as well.

And now he’s spreading the word to the entire Salesforce customer and user community by inviting 23 monks to Dreamforce, the massive blockbuster tech conference Salesforce hosts every year.

The monks hail from Plum Village, the Buddhist meditation center in southern France founded by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thích Nhat Hanh.

Benioff personally invited the monks so they could give meditation tips to the more than 170,000 guests coming to this year’s Dreamforce. The monks have set up two “Mindfulness Zones” right outside of Moscone Center, where Dreamforce is taking place, and are giving free daily sessions, including a walking meditation and mindful eating class.

Mindfulness Zones at Dreamforce

Business Insider had a chance to speak with one of the monks, Brother Phap Lai, and learn how people new to meditation could use it to reduce stress and achieve “mindfulness.”

Lai says the goal of meditation shouldn’t be about excelling at work or learning the keys to success. Rather, it’s a way of life, and integrating it into your daily routine so it “brings benefit to you and more happiness to you,” he says.

“What we’re offering is a way to bring a more genuine long lasting happiness into your way of life,” he adds. “That may bring fruit to your work because happier people generally tend to have certain success in the sense that they communicate better, they’re less stressed. So there may be a side benefit, but it’s not what we’re talking about here.”

Here’s an easy way to practice meditation at home, according to Brother Phap Lai:
  1. Find an ambient, quiet place for yourself at home, a place that gives a sense of warmth and inspires you
  2. Sit in a posture that’s stable (he described it as having a string attached to your head, being pulled up like a marionette, but also being relaxed)
  3. You have to find that center of gravity, or a sweet spot, that gives you a subtle and pleasant feeling
  4. Close your eyes and identify your in-breath and out-breath. Allow the breath to come in deeper through your tummy and lung to fill up.
  5. Repeat the in-breath and out-breath process 3 to 5 times.
  6. Start by doing it 5 to 10 minutes a day. Then you can extend it to 30 minutes to 1 hour a day. Lai does it once in the morning and evening every day.

And here’s what Brother Lai told me when I struggled to concentrate:
  • “The sitting mediation experience allows you to really ground yourself and your body, and think the present moment, really being here now.”
  • “The stability of the body can really help the stability of the mind.”
  • “You don’t have to think about thinking, just try and be with the experience.”
  • “Instead of trying to ignore the outside noise, just let it go. It doesn’t matter, all that matters is you breathing…try and get this feeling 100%. This is the most important thing in my life.”
  • “The point is you touched the possibility of this thing of just being with the breath. And the mind doesn’t need to be engaged thinking about it, just experience it.”
  • “If you can learn to have a place you can call home, which is your body, it becomes your home and you become familiar to go back there, being with the breath, with the body. From that place, you are safe, it becomes where you can go back to, it becomes your refuge, and it becomes a place where you restore yourself.”

Read more at http://www.businessinsider.my/a-buddhist-monk-at-salesforce-conference-teaches-how-to-reduce-stress-2016-10/#xAUVYAlWZip8x5fU.99
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