What do Buddhist Monks and a Tech Conference Have in Common?

What do Buddhist Monks and a Tech Conference Have in Common?


While the Woodstock event of the software industry —Dreamforce —attracted more than 170,000 people from 83 countries this month, one of the big draws at the event was from Buddhist monks.

Salesforce, the tech giant behind the blockbuster event, invited 23 monks to Dreamforce. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, is a vocal supporter of “mindfulness” and meditation. Benioff believes meditative practices could improve how business leaders do their jobs. Salesforce’s new office building has built in meditation rooms to encourage employees to practice mindfulness a few times a week.

The monks hail from Plum Village, the Buddhist meditation center in southern France founded by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Thích Nhất Hạnh. The monks offered mediation tips to Dreamforce guests in their “Mindfulness Zones”, and gave free daily sessions, including walking meditation and a mindful eating class.

Monk, Brother Phap Lia spoke with Business Insider  and offered some ways to reduce stress and achieve “mindfulness” for those new to meditation:

  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.

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.

“What we’re offering is a way to bring a more genuine long lasting happiness into your way of life,” he told Business Insider. “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.”

To learn more about mindfulness and visit the Five Mindfulness Trainings here.