- Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has a close relationship with the monks and nuns from Plum Village. The monastics, as they’re known, visited San Francisco from around the US and France this week for Salesforce’s 170,000-person conference, where they have a tent set up to share mindfulness and meditation practices with conference attendees. One of those monks, Brother Fulfillment, shared his tips on how to bring mindfulness practices into weekly work meetings.
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff has a head for meditation and mindfulness.
Benioff’s love is so great, in fact, that he has formed a close relationship with a French monastic community called Plum Village, whose members have inspired him to spread peace of mind and add meditation rooms on each floor of the new Salesforce Tower. He’s even hosted the monks at one of his homes in San Francisco.
This week, for the second year in a row, some of these monks and nuns were back in the foggy city to host a mindfulness station at Salesforce’s 170,000-person conference, Dreamforce. During his keynote address on Monday, Benioff even had the monastics stand up from their seats in the audience for a round of applause.
Plum Village, as it turns out, actually uses Salesforce to manages clients for the retreats it holds. They’re one of the many non-profits that Salesforce team members train for free. But at Dreamforce, the monks and nuns were there to do more than just learn about customer relationship management software.
Situated in a tent just outside of the main conference halls, the monastics offered a get-away amidst the chaotic conference for attendees just looking for a quiet place to chill. They also led meditation sessions and gave life advice to anyone who asked.
One of the monks, Brother Fulfillment, traveled to Dreamforce from a monastery in New York called Blue Cliff, which is part of the greater Plum Village network.
He shared how the Plum Village philosophy – influenced by Zen Buddhism as well as scientific and other non-religious approaches to mindfulness – can be applied in a work setting to decrease stress and increase communication between coworkers.
Just like everyone else, the monks and nuns also have to sit through weekly meetings. Here is what Brother Fulfillment said are the key strategies to keeping meetings mindful:
- Brother Fulfillment said his community holds its meetings in a circle, so that everyone at the table is on equal footing. The community starts every meeting with meditation, to put people in a calm state of mind. Each meeting has a facilitator, whose role is to ensure that everyone at the meeting has the chance to speak and that the otherwise organically-flowing meeting is productive. Brother Fulfillment said that it’s important that these facilitators have mindfulness training, so that they can set the tone for the whole room. It’s also important that each person in the room speaks in a way that is respectful of one another. Brother Fulfillment said that these meetings should have no interruptions, and that speakers should only share one idea at a time. He also said that it’s important for the speaker to phrase ideas in terms of how something makes them feel, which will open up space for people who disagree. Though Brother Fulfillment’s community recognizes seniority of the more experienced monks and nuns, most decisions are made by consensus. Consensus means everyone in the room has come to an agreement. If everyone doesn’t agrees, then the proposal is changed until a compromise is met.