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Mirabai Bush speaks on Mindfulness and its application in Google (Part 1)

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mirabaiBy Nithin Sridhar

During a time when people across the world are struggling hard to manage work-related stress and balance professional and personal lives, Mirabai Bush has helped thousands to harmonize their lives and optimize their outputs through contemplation and mindfulness practices.

She is the co-founder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and teaches contemplative practices and develops programs that apply contemplative principles to organizational life. She had also helped Google create its ‘Search Inside Yourself’ program, and was one among those who introduced Buddhist practices in the West in the 1970’s.

She traces her spiritual practices to her root-teacher, Neem Karoli Baba and other masters in India from whom she learned various Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices. In an exclusive interview with NewsGram she spoke about her life, her work, and her stay in India way back in 1970’s.

Interview with Mirabai Bush- Part 1

Mirabai Bush and Google program ‘Search Inside Yourself’

Speaking about the Google program ‘Search Inside Yourself’ that she had helped create, Mirabai Bush said that it was the first of its kind based on the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is one of the parts of the Buddhist Vipasana meditation and in the US, the term is mostly used to mean focused awareness, usually on the breath.

Search-Inside-Yourself-google-logo

But, Google, she said, created an emotional intelligence program based on mindfulness. She added: “We realized that the young engineers at Google were very focused and good at creating algorithms, but what they needed to work on was self-awareness and awareness about others that would help them work better in teams. So, we developed a program that uses mindfulness along with practices like loving kindness and compassion, and then we translated it into activities like mindful listening, mindful emailing etc.”

The program aimed at helping people understand themselves better so that they could understand others better and communicate with them in a better manner. She said that the first course was launched in 2008, and has been extremely successful with at least 3000 Googlers from around the world taking the course till now. She added that a book titled ‘Search Inside Yourself’ has also been written by Chade-Meng Tan, who was her partner in the program. A leadership institute has also been started wherein people from outside Google are trained in the program.

Mirabai Bush and the practice of Mindfulness

Elaborating on the concept of mindfulness, Mirabai Bush said: “Mindfulness is taught throughout Buddhism, but in the US, it is usually understood as a way of bringing full focus to the present moment without judgment, or being fully present in the moment without judgment.”

One basic way, she said, by which this mindfulness could be cultivated was by sitting quietly, closing one’s eyes, bringing the awareness to the breathing, and by letting go of the thoughts that arise without any judgment. But, she stressed on the fact that mindfulness is neither an attempt at emptying the mind, nor an attempt at attaining a blissful state. Instead, it is just an attempt at seeing things just as they are. Whenever a thought or an emotion arises, a practitioner will simply let it go and bring back the attention to the breath.

mindfulness“But,” she said: “breath focus is just a technique to use; the real mindfulness in everyday life is to be able to bring attention to whatever it is you are working on in your workplace, the person who is speaking to you, or the thoughts in your mind while you work through something. That’s the mindful state.”

Regarding the similarities between mindfulness practices and the Hindu and Buddhist practices of yoga and dhyana (meditation), she said that Hatha Yoga is a very good practice for becoming aware, if it is properly practiced in that manner. If one becomes aware of the sensations in the body while doing asanas (postures), that is exactly the same thing as mindfulness.

But at the same time, some of the practitioners (of yoga) concentrate on being absorbed in certain states. Mindfulness on the other hand is not about being absorbed into any state, but being present with everything that is happening. Hence, there is a difference between the two. But, mindfulness is more rooted in Buddhist practices.

Many people from the west had gone to India in 1970 and studied Buddhism in monasteries. But, when they came back to the west, they did not bring back the forms of Buddhism that were practiced in everyday life. They only brought back what they learned in monasteries like various forms of focused meditation.

She added that mindfulness in the west is not understood the way it is understood by the Buddhist scholars. In the West, it is a generalized term. Jon Kabat-Zinn was one of the first people to coin the term ‘mindfulness’. While he was teaching these practices to those who were in a lot of pain and stress, he focused on the calming and stabilizing aspect of meditation and called it ‘mindfulness’.

More in the Series:

Mirabai Bush speaks on her stay in India and the Guatemala Project (Part 2)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Yoga and its uprooting (Part 3)

Mirabai Bush speaks on Right Livelihood & Center for Contemplative Mind in Society (Part 4)

Mirabai Bush speaks about her root-teacher Neem Karoli Baba (Part 5)

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Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter Join The Trust Project to Help Users Combat Fake News

In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan "The Trust Project"

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To Combat Fake News
To Combat Fake News Facebook, Twitter , Google have joined 'The Trust Project'. PIxabay.

San Francisco, Nov 19: In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan “The Trust Project”.

“The Trust Project” is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics.

Starting from Friday, an icon will appear next to articles in Facebook News Feed.

When you click on the icon, you can read information on the organisations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work.

“Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display ‘Trust Indicators’. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organisations also show what type of information people are reading a” news, opinion, analysis or advertising,” the university said in a statement.

Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, providing the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work.

“Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism,” the university said.

German press agency DPA, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, the Independent Journal Review, Mic, Italy’s La Republica and La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and The Washington Post are among the companies starting to go live with “Trust Indicators” this month.

The Institute for Non-profit News has developed a WordPress plug-in to facilitate broader implementation by qualified publishers.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” Lehrman explained.

The eight core indicators are: Best Practices; Author Expertise; Type of Work; Citations and References; Methods; Locally Sourced; Diverse Voices and Actionable Feedback.

New organisations like the BBC and Hearst Television have collaborated in defining the “Trust Indicator” editorial and technical standards, and in developing the processes for implementing these.

“Quality journalism has never been more important,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of news products at Google.

“We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”

“The Trust Indicators will provide a new level of accessibility and insight into the news that people on Facebook see day in and day out,” said Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook.

A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months, with a second phase of news partners beginning implementation work soon. (IANS)

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Google soon be adding Restaurant ‘Wait’ times feature on Search and Maps

Google will soon add wait times of the restaurants in Search and maps.

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Google will add Restaurant wait times on Search and Maps
Google will add Restaurant wait times on Search and Maps. Pixabay
  • Google is adding a new feature in Search and Maps.
  • It will show the waiting times for any restaurant.

Now it will much easier to find a place in your favorite restaurant with Google Map’s new feature

Tired of long queues at restaurants? Relax as Google is soon rolling out wait times on Search — followed by Maps — that will show you the estimated wait-time at your favorite eating hangouts. 

To see wait times for nearly a million sit-down restaurants around the world that allow walk-ins, just search for the restaurant, open the business listing, and scroll down to the “Popular Times” section.

“There, you’ll see the estimated wait time at that very moment. And by tapping on any of the hour bars, you’ll see the estimated wait for that time period,” Google said in a blog post. You can even scroll left and right to see a summary of each day’s wait times below the hour bars, so you can plan ahead to beat the crowds. Wait-time estimates are based on anonymised historical data, similar to how Google computes the previously launched ‘Popular Times’ and ‘Visit Duration’ features.

In the case of restaurants, Google will now include a pop-up box that appears when you click on a time frame in the popular times’ chart. The box shows the live or historical data labelled as “busy”, “usually busy”, “usually not busy”, etc., along with the wait time, TechCrunch reported.( IANS)

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai Serves Employees a Real Version of Android Burgers Emoji

At its Seattle office, the workers were served "Android burgers" during Friday's lunch, ending the debate that Android burger emoji is the winner when it comes to placing the cheese.

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Android Burgers
Google CEO, Sundar Pichai relished its employees with Android Burgers. Wikimedia.

San Francisco, Nov 4: After an intense debate on the social media over the placement of cheese in Android’s and Apple’s burger emojis — which was joined by India-born Google CEO Sundar Pichai — the tech giant has finally served “Android burgers” to its employees.

At its Seattle office, the workers were served “Android burgers” during Friday’s lunch, ending the debate that Android burger emoji is the winner when it comes to placing the cheese.

Android Burgers
Android Burgers were served to Google employees at Seattle. Twitter.

“The key difference between this burger and any other is that the slice of cheese is placed beneath the patty and atop the lower bun. It looks exactly like Android’s burger emoji, which sparked heated controversy earlier this week over the correct ingredient order of America’s beloved staple,” The Verge reported on Saturday.

ALSO READ: Apple losing out AI race to Google, Amazon: Report

The whole thing started when Thomas Baekdal, a writer and media analyst, tweeted early this week on the placement of cheese in Android and Apple burger emojis.

“I think we need to have a discussion about how Google’s burger emoji is placing the cheese underneath the burger, while Apple puts it on top,” Baekdal tweeted.

Reacting to this, Pichai tweeted, promising to “drop everything” and address the issue if people on the platform agree on what the correct placement of ingredient should be.

With serving “Android burgers,” it appears the kitchen department at Google has heard Pichai loud and clear.

The hamburger emoji, also known as the cheeseburger, was approved as part of Unicode 6.0 in 2010 and added to Emoji 1.0 in 2015, according to Emojipedia — an emoji reference website. (IANS)