Entries in mental health (2)


Silicon Valley's Mental Health: Mindfulness Helps Many Professionals Find Their Grounding, One Breath at a Time

This New York Times article about bringing mindfulness to the tech industry and its professionals is fascinating. Mindfulness is in the news, as it has been for several years, but now its application to those in the tech industry is the focus. This week's Time Magazine cover story on mindfulness spotlights some of the ways mindfulness is being introduced to companies like Google here in Mountain View.

If you have a moment to spare--literally a moment--getting centered on your breath in a mindful way can change the outcome of your day, the pace of your internal non-stop chatter, your outlook on life. It is an extremely simple concept, but one that takes practice and represents an evolving journey. How can it be that a bit of attention on your breath can be so powerful?

Part of the answer lies in the act itself. When you practice bringing attention to your breath, you are working on several skills at once. First and foremost, you are slowing down and taking a moment to be with yourself. Considering how busy and demanding life is these days, that is a unique experience in itself. Second, you are training your mind to attend to one thing. When you think about it, how often are we doing that these days, in the age of multi-tasking? How many times throughout the day do you find yourself attending to multiple things at one time--work, email, texts, IM's, phone calls? It is antithetical it is to our modern life to slow down and pay attention to one thing. In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, they refer to this as acting One Mindfully.

Inherent in the process of attending to the breath, you are also learning how to disregard or pay less attention to the constant commentary going on in your mind. Sometimes that chatter is worth listening to and sometimes it isn't. In the act of becoming more mindful, you can begin to choose when and when not to pay attention to the chatter and commentary your mind produces. This can then open you up to a number of life enhancing experiences, both internally and externally.

A concern I hear often goes something like this, "I have so much to do, if I stop multi-tasking and slow down, my productivity will suffer. I just can't do that." This point of view is understandable. However, what most people who engage in mindfulness training report is that they actually become more efficient. What fades away over time is the mindless head spinning, the over concern for the pursuit of perfection, the stifling self-judgment.

And imagine, all that just by paying attention to the breath.


Silicon Valley's Mental Health

Silicon Valley has been home to the booms and busts of the tech world for years. It is a modern day Gold Rush, with people from all over the world flooding here to be a part of the Next Big Thing. It is truly an incredible time and place in which we live. But, quite like the Gold Rush itself, there are real challenges that accompany the hope of tremendous opportunity and success.

Can we talk about mental health in the Valley? All of the factors that make it such an incredible place to be, also create a unique set of circumstances that can pose a challenge for even the most stable among us. The work hours are long. The schedules can be unpredictable. Funding is always an issue. Work-life balance can be elusive. Competition--for your company, your product, your job--can be fierce. Communication among colleagues can break down due to cultural differences. And what of all these problems if you struggle mood or anxiety problems?

It might seem nearly impossible to some to manage the ups and downs of the Valley. But, at least as a culture, we are beginning to talk about it. Here on this blog, I hope to post information and resources specifically geared to those in this crazy valley we call home.