Better Engineering through Meditation?

Intel Engineers Meditating in Mindfulness Program

Mindfulness program at Intel aims to reduce stress, boost focus.

High tech workers have been turning to meditation to help them cope with the stress of relentless innovation. Employees from companies such as Twitter and Facebook flock to the annual Wisdom 2.0 conference to learn calming techniques for the digital age and Google has been running mindfulness classes for its employees for several years. But it’s not just Silicon Valley’s younger generation companies that have embraced mindfulness; it’s also popular among employees at one of the industry’s longest standing companies.

Intel Employees Meditating in Mindfulness program session

At Intel, more than 1,500 employees have participated in the year-old Awake@Intel program. The mindfulness-based realization classes use psychological techniques to heighten attention and awareness non-judgmentally. The results include improved well-being, creativity and focus, reduced feelings of stress and stronger engagement in meetings and projects, according to feedback from participants.

The organizers admit that many participants never dreamed they would be meditating in the workplace and didn’t immediately see the value. One convert is Brian Cockrell, an Intel software engineer who went into a session “very skeptical,” but emerged a believer.

“The course was very down to Earth and not at all new agey,” he said, recalling a time he used his newfound mindful skills to overcome a formidable challenge at work. “We were trying to enable a wireless technology for vPro that people thought would be impossible,” Cockrell said. “It was an engineering problem that would have taken us weeks or months, but by focusing on it and taking the mindful practices we learned in the class — to turn off all distractions like instant message and Outlook — we developed a solution over the course of two 2-hour blocks of time.”

Results like those Cockrell cites have led to strong demand for the classes. In response, an additional 8-week course has been added at Intel’s Hillsboro, Ore. facilities and a 9-week next-level session has been scheduled. The program is also being offered in Intel’s Folsom, Calif., campus and there are plans to expand it to the Chandler, Ariz. campus.

Lindsay van Driel and Anakha Coman Awake at Intel mindfulness program organizers

Mindfulness Unlocks Stress in an Engineering Culture

The initiator of the Awake@Intel program is Lindsay Van Driel, an operations manager in Intel’s Business Client Platform division. Certified in yoga and meditation instruction, she heard about the mindfulness programs at Google and General Mills. After seeing those programs in action and meeting with practitioners such as Chade-Meng Tan, Google employee No. 107 who started the company’s Search Inside Yourself program, Van Driel introduced a program tailored to Intel’s corporate culture.

“Across the board, every single person we talk to (at Intel) experiences stress,” she said. “They feel that if they weren’t stressed it would mean they’re not working hard enough. It’s Intel culture. We are very driven, and we have a corporate culture in which it is accepted to overload yourself and work into the night and not take breaks during the day.”

Van Driel leads Awake@Intel sessions with Anakha Coman, a fellow Portlander who has also coached mindfulness programs at Nike and Oregon Health Sciences University. Sessions involve meditation, journaling and interacting in pairs and groups on a particular topic. Beyond managing stress and reaping its benefits, such elements can help people reconnect with goals and values that encompass one’s professional and personal lives, according to Van Driel.

“It’s crazy how we go through our lives and rarely take time out to reflect or take a breath and pause when something upsetting happens,” she said. “Mindfulness can teach us how.”

Better Engineering through Meditation?

Intel Engineers Meditating in Mindfulness Program

Mindfulness program at Intel aims to reduce stress, boost focus.

High tech workers have been turning to meditation to help them cope with the stress of relentless innovation. Employees from companies such as Twitter and Facebook flock to the annual Wisdom 2.0 conference to learn calming techniques for the digital age and Google has been running mindfulness classes for its employees for several years. But it’s not just Silicon Valley’s younger generation companies that have embraced mindfulness; it’s also popular among employees at one of the industry’s longest standing companies.

Intel Employees Meditating in Mindfulness program session

At Intel, more than 1,500 employees have participated in the year-old Awake@Intel program. The mindfulness-based realization classes use psychological techniques to heighten attention and awareness non-judgmentally. The results include improved well-being, creativity and focus, reduced feelings of stress and stronger engagement in meetings and projects, according to feedback from participants.

The organizers admit that many participants never dreamed they would be meditating in the workplace and didn’t immediately see the value. One convert is Brian Cockrell, an Intel software engineer who went into a session “very skeptical,” but emerged a believer.

“The course was very down to Earth and not at all new agey,” he said, recalling a time he used his newfound mindful skills to overcome a formidable challenge at work. “We were trying to enable a wireless technology for vPro that people thought would be impossible,” Cockrell said. “It was an engineering problem that would have taken us weeks or months, but by focusing on it and taking the mindful practices we learned in the class — to turn off all distractions like instant message and Outlook — we developed a solution over the course of two 2-hour blocks of time.”

Results like those Cockrell cites have led to strong demand for the classes. In response, an additional 8-week course has been added at Intel’s Hillsboro, Ore. facilities and a 9-week next-level session has been scheduled. The program is also being offered in Intel’s Folsom, Calif., campus and there are plans to expand it to the Chandler, Ariz. campus.

Lindsay van Driel and Anakha Coman Awake at Intel mindfulness program organizers

Mindfulness Unlocks Stress in an Engineering Culture

The initiator of the Awake@Intel program is Lindsay Van Driel, an operations manager in Intel’s Business Client Platform division. Certified in yoga and meditation instruction, she heard about the mindfulness programs at Google and General Mills. After seeing those programs in action and meeting with practitioners such as Chade-Meng Tan, Google employee No. 107 who started the company’s Search Inside Yourself program, Van Driel introduced a program tailored to Intel’s corporate culture.

“Across the board, every single person we talk to (at Intel) experiences stress,” she said. “They feel that if they weren’t stressed it would mean they’re not working hard enough. It’s Intel culture. We are very driven, and we have a corporate culture in which it is accepted to overload yourself and work into the night and not take breaks during the day.”

Van Driel leads Awake@Intel sessions with Anakha Coman, a fellow Portlander who has also coached mindfulness programs at Nike and Oregon Health Sciences University. Sessions involve meditation, journaling and interacting in pairs and groups on a particular topic. Beyond managing stress and reaping its benefits, such elements can help people reconnect with goals and values that encompass one’s professional and personal lives, according to Van Driel.

“It’s crazy how we go through our lives and rarely take time out to reflect or take a breath and pause when something upsetting happens,” she said. “Mindfulness can teach us how.”