Members of the Nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health have been advising Google food service to ensure healthy choices since 2009. During this summer, Google executive chef and nutritionist Olivia Wu and I discussed the appropriate portion size for desserts. Since all Google meals are free and employees get unlimited servings, I commented that it’s important for Googlers to learn about mindful eating along with healthy portion sizes and the nutrition of their food.
When I told Olivia that I co-authored Savor – Mindful Eating, Mindful Life with Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, she immediately asked me to invite Thay to speak at Google headquarters.
Thay was interested in going to Google, but would do so only if Google would include a half-day mindfulness practice. He knows that a lecture is not enough to help Googlers step into the mindfulness practice. He wanted them to practice with him.
The event was announced less than 4 weeks from the event date. Within 24 hours of the announcement, it was filled to capacity of over 700 with a wait-list of over 400. The first 200 registrants received a complimentary copy of Savor.
Googlers enjoyed hours of discussion with Thay, learned mindful breathing, mindful walking and mindful eating exercises and ate a delicious gourmet vegan dinner. Dishes included sprouted mung bean pate, Vietnamese whole grain salad and Tatsoi with pluots, sesame and tamarind. I began the day by offering an introduction to mindfulness and wellness from a scientific perspective and then introduced Thay.
The event was extremely well received. Many Googlers emailed Olivia to say the event was transformative. Google is about to launch nutritionist and trainer-led small groups in a healthy challenge; Googlers are starting a mindful eating group and may also build a labyrinth for meditative walking on campus. Mindful eating and mindful walking may be added to the Mountain View curriculum, which will soon be scaled globally.