'Caring Mindfulness' in Silicon Valley

Mindfulness has gone mainstream and nowhere is it more popular than Silicon Valley. The tech world has embraced mindfulness as a kind of mental fitness and productivity tool.  Many of the leading companies offer various mindfulness programs to all their employees, meditation rooms are now common, so meditation is now way out of the closet. 

So it was exciting to work on the June 2015 tour for Matthieu Ricard’s new book, Altruism.  Matthieu is the French-born Tibetan monk who has been at the forefront of promoting neuro-scientific studies of various forms of meditation. And because he has a PhD in cellular genetics and is deeply schooled in science and philosophy, he can speak with brilliance and precision.  So even though he is an older monk, clearly part of a religious tradition, he has become very popular in both business and tech circles. He is a kind of special celebrity at the World Economic Forum in Davis every year, providing guidance and insight to CEOs. And his first TED talk which was on happiness has been viewed over seven million times. 

For this new book, the focus is less about mindfulness and more about how altruism / compassion is a core value that can have a transformative effect on all aspects of our lives.  He also points out that just like simple mindfulness, practicing loving kindness meditation also changes the brain.The first week of his book tour was in Silicon Valley and San Francisco where he spoke at Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, SalesForce, Stanford University, and an event organized by Wisdom 2.0. He was encouraging “caring mindfulness,” urging the tech leaders to bring altruism back into the meditation practice. 

Promoting a new book these days involves both conventional “old” media like NPR, PBS and feature stories in newspapers and magazines as well as all the new media where you create and control your own content and share it as widely as possible with multiple partners. In the good old days (five years ago), you could become a number one best-selling author with one appearance on Oprah. Those days are long gone with vastly distributed media, short attention spans, and mobile culture where information is consumed as fast mental food.