STEVE Jobs used one particular technique to help clear his mind and achieve dizzying heights of success.
It was mindfulness, the kind taught in Zen Buddhism, which an old-fashioned high-flyer might have dismissed as New Age mumbo-jumbo.The Apple co-founder’s life changed after a visit to India in 1974. When he returned — head shaved, in traditional clothing and espousing the benefits of LSD — he embarked on a lifelong dedication to Zen Buddhism.
He went on long meditation retreats to Tassajara, the first Zen monastery in the US, where he learned to tune in to the activity of his brilliant mind. A Suzuki disciple, Kobun Chino Otagawa, officiated at Jobs’s 1991 wedding.
Tech writer Geoffrey James wrote this week that Jobs used what was formerly seen as rather esoteric “mind technology” to reduce stress,gain clarity and enhance his creativity.In Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography of Jobs, he quotes the computer genius as saying: “If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is.
“If you try to calm it, it only makes it worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things — that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more.
“Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before.”
Jobs isn’t alone. Increasingly, corporates are harnessing the benefits of mindfulness, in an age where non-stop digital chatter makes it vital to help our brains focus.
Everyone from tech giants Google and Adobe to big businesses Target, Ford and Goldman Sachs is introducing a mindfulness program.Healthcare firm Aetna says this has saved them $2000 per employee in healthcare costs, and gained about $3000 per employee in productivity, The Atlantic reported.
This isn’t about peace or calm, it’s about crystallising answers in a sea of noise, and it’s advocated by high-achievers from.Wall Street bankers to Linked in CEO Jeff Weiner,Forbes recently observed.
Indeed, old friends and business associates have recalled that spiritual Jobs had a cruel, egocentric side, with his biographer remarking: “Unfortunately his Zen training never quite produced in him a Zen-like calm of inner serenity, and that, too, is part of his legacy.”
At a memorial for Jobs at Stanford in October 2011, planned by the man himself, everyone was handed a box containing a copy of Paramhansa Yogananda’s spiritual memoir Autobiography of a Yogi.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said intuition was Jobs’s greatest gift. “It was the last thing he wanted us to think about,” he told the TechCrunch Disrupt SF conference in 2013.
“The message was, actualise yourself.”
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