Archive for September, 2013

A City of Mash-Ups

Posted: September 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
A City of Mash-Ups
The ultimate mash-up…

Primal, powerful and awe-inspiring…

Alluring, capable of overpowering the senses, driving people wild, beyond control…

Eliciting love and hate, hugs and violence…

No doubt one of the largest viral audiences ever….

What could it be, you ask?

What combination of music, sounds and artists could produce such emotion?

Listen:

“The voice of the muezzin calling the Moslem faithful to prayer; the toll of the Church bells; the chant of Jews praying at the Western Wall…”

And there is only one place in the world where this intoxicating, heady, elating mash-up can be heard… and seen… Jerusalem… as Amos Elon so beautifully portrays in the quote above from his book Jerusalem: City of Mirrors.

Imagine the clean cold chill of a mountain early morning; the dark clear sky ablaze with the lights of the night as the colors begin to change, black to purple, purple to gold as the glow of the sun begins to overpower all and the chill gives way to heat. Now close your eyes and listen — the sounds of Jerusalem — the holy mash-up welcomes the day… in all its new glory.

If I sound slightly infatuated, passionate even maybe a bit crazy and mad — it’s because I am, I was — I stood and listened and watched and experienced the full power and glory of that frenetic mash-up; a sound I can never get enough of when I visit Jerusalem.

And yet, there are some, many perhaps, who would deny that sound — undo the mash-up, limit it to one or another of its parts, unravel the complexity of its beauty, destroy the multi-dimensions, deny the textures that make this mash-up unique.

Let me be clear and honest — I don’t mean for this to be a political or religious diatribe — far from it — I am more interested in the power of this crazy mash-up to drive social long before Facebook, to inspire community long before LinkedIn, to drive connected interactive experiences long before digital anything.

And I am fascinated by what it can inspire today through digital channels of communication, connection and interaction. And yet somehow we seem to be missing the beat.

So as I stood there entranced I asked myself, why is it that the promise of all that we have at our fingertips to connect the world divides us more than ever?

Why is it that we create silos as quickly as we break them down — erase one and seemingly hundreds spring up — against the very premise that digital portends.

Bottom line — the mash-up of all mash-ups — an ultimate source for digital content, social connection, and by the way news — is sadly divisively isolated into its constituent parts.

As I leave Jerusalem — I can only wonder, and I can only hope…

“Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?”

How about, instead, we tweet, link, share, post, ping and otherwise use the huge power that each of us has in our hands today to use Jerusalem as a metaphor for what digital can do to change the world.

People who value open systems believe that is just the point — value comes not from owning but from sharing. Not from passion for what is mine but from passion for sharing. From understanding that access is the new ownership — it’s not what I hoard, it’s what I can use when I want.

Let’s share this nutty mixed-up mash-up; let’s all own it — because we can, maybe we have to…

Listen:

“Jerusalem is a festival and a lamentation. Its song is a sigh across the ages, a delicate, robust, mournful psalm at the great junction of spiritual cultures.” David K. Shipler

Listen and watch:

And listen and watch again:

The power of digital has never had a better place to start…

What do you think?

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Google’s ‘Jolly Good Fellow’ On The Power Of Emotional Intelligence
When Google engineer-turned-mindfulness expert Chade-Meng Tan gives a talk in front of a group of Silicon Valley developers and executives, he often starts with a simple exercise.

“Imagine two human beings. Don’t say anything, don’t do anything, just wish for those two human beings to be happy. That’s all.”

During one recent talk, he gave the group a homework assignment: Perform the exercise the next day at work, spending 10 seconds each hour randomly choosing two people and silently wishing for them to be happy. The following morning, Tan received an email from an employee who attended the workshop that read, “I hate my job. I hate coming to work every day. But yesterday I tried your suggestion and it was my happiest day in seven years.”

It’s not the first time that Tan — who Wired recently dubbed an “Enlightenment engineer” — has seen emotional intelligence exercises transform an employee’s work and life. As Google’s resident “Jolly Good Fellow,” Tan developed Search Inside Yourself (SIY) program, a mindfulness-based emotional intelligence training program. Tan’s philosophy is that cultivating emotional intelligence through mindfulness training and meditation can help an individual reach a state of inner peace, the essential foundation of happiness, success and compassion.

More than 1,000 Google employees have gone through the SIY curriculum, according to Wired, the principles of which are outlined in Tan’s New York Times bestseller, “Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path To Achieving Success, Happiness (And World Peace)”. The program focuses on building up the five emotional intelligence domains of self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills, primarily through meditation and mindfulness training, which aims to improve one’s focus and attention on the present moment.

The benefits of emotional intelligence in the workplace are well-documented, from career success to improved relationships to better leadership — and Tan says getting Silicon Valley interested in a meditation program to train employees in emotional intelligence wasn’t difficult.

“Everybody already knows, emotional intelligence is good for my career, it’s good for my team, it’s good for my profits,” Tan tells the Huffington Post. “It comes pre-marketed, so all I had to do is create a curriculum for emotional intelligence that helps people succeed, with goodness and world-peace as the unavoidable side-effects.”

Here are five ways that you can cultivate emotional intelligence — and revolutionize your work, relationships and happiness.

Meditate.

meditation office

Tan outlines three major steps to developing emotional intelligence: Training attention (“the ability to bring the mind to a state that’s calm and clear, and to do it on demand,” he explains), self-awareness, and social intelligence. The first step is building an individual’s powers of attention through meditation.

Tan is convinced that much like improving physical fitness, improving “mental fitness” through meditation and mindfulness practices can improve nearly every aspect of your life, from work to family life to physical health.

“There are some things in life where if you improve one thing, everything else in life is improved… If you improve physical fitness, it improves your home life, success, wellness, everything,” says Tan. “The same is true for meditation, because meditation is in fact mental and emotional fitness. If you are fit mentally and emotionally, every aspect of your life improves.”

Research has confimed that mindfulness contributes to emotional well-being, in addition to improving memory and attention. A 2013 University of Utah study found that individuals with mindful personality traits (such as self-awareness and attentiveness) exhibited more stable emotional patterns and reported feeling more in control of their moods and actions. Brown University research also found that mindfulness meditation could improve an individual’s control over brain processing of pain and emotions.

Cultivate compassion.

compassion

Meditation is also the primary vehicle for cultivating compassion: A recent Harvard University study found that individuals who underwent eight weeks of meditation training were significantly more likely to help others in need than those who hadn’t gone through the meditation training.

Neuroscientists have even seen that meditating on compassion can create an empathetic state in the brain. When Tibetan Buddhist monks were asked to meditate on “unconditional loving-kindness and compassion” in a 2006 study, the researchers measured brain activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which is associated with positive emotions, that was 30 times stronger than the activity among a control group of college students who didn’t meditate, Wired reported. The researchers theorized that empathy may be something one can cultivated by “exercising” the brain through loving-kindness meditation.

Tan explains that mindfulness training helps to boost self-compassion first and foremost, which then expands to compassion for others. “[After the program], people say, ‘I see myself with kindness.'”

But the benefits of cultivating compassion go beyond greater kindness towards oneself and others: In addition to improving happiness, compassion can also boost a business’s creative output and bottom line, according to Tan — a sentiment that LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, a leading proponent of compassionate management, would agree with.

“The one thing [that all companies should be doing] is promoting the awareness that compassion can and will be good for success and profits,” says Tan.

Practice mindful observance of the mind and body.

deep breathing

Mindful awareness of what’s going on in the mind and body — thoughts, feelings, emotions, physical sensations and disease — is an important step in cultivating inner joy, says Tan.

“If you start from mindfulness, the first thing you get is inner peace,” Tan explains. “Then you add on other practices like observing wellness in the body, you also get inner joy. Take that inner joy and add on other practices, and you will get kindness and compassion.”

Make mindfulness a habit.

habit change

You may not think of inner peace as something that you can develop through creating good habits, but Tan explains that happiness is a habit that you can create through a daily mindfulness practice.

“To create sustainable compassion, you have to be strong in inner joy,” says Tan. “Inner joy comes from inner peace — otherwise it’s not sustainable. And inner peace is highly trainable.”

The way that inner peace is trained is through regular meditation — which isn’t strictly limited to sitting quietly in lotus position. A meditation habit can be a quiet daily walk around your block, a yoga practice, or any of these non-om forms of meditation. The important thing is that you create a habit by doing it regularly and turn mindfulness into a part of your daily life.

“Habits are highly trainable,” explains Tan. “And habits become character.”

chade meng tan

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6 Lifts For Legs Like Pillars

Posted: September 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

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