Monday, September 21, 2009

Sometimes, When I'm Alone, I Search Inside Myself (Part II)


(Continued from Part I)

In Part I, we described the 3 principles behind Search Inside Yourself (SIY), Google's homegrown program for developing Emotional Intelligence:
1. Emotional skills are trainable
2. EI training starts with attention training
3. Work with emotions in the body

In this post, we'll describe an overview of the structure and content of SIY.  Note that SIY is still in "beta" (perhaps semi-permanently).  That means that we're never fully satisfied with it and we're constantly trying to make changes to improve it.  So this information is only valid as of today, and we're almost certain to make some important changes every now and then.

SIY is a training program consisting of 3 courses totaling 19 class hours.  The 3 courses are:
1. SIY 101: Introduction to Emotional Intelligence (2 hrs)
2. SIY 102: Day of Mindfulness (7 hrs, pre-requisite: SIY 101)
3. SIY 103: Developing the 5 Domains of Emotional Intelligence (10 hrs, pre-requisite: SIY 101)


1. SIY 101: Introduction to Emotional Intelligence

The objective of this course is to introduce participants to the neuroscience, application and development of Emotional Intelligence.  It includes a theory section and a practical section, so participants walk out of the classroom armed not only with new knowledge on the topic, but also with useful practices they can apply in daily life.

The content covered in this class includes:
  • The neuroscience of emotions (in which we ask participants to watch this video before coming to class).
  • What Emotional Intelligence is and how it relates to work.
  • Our method for developing Emotional Intelligence (see the 3 principles of SIY above) and some of the neuroscience behind it.
  • Introduction to "Mindfulness".
  • Introduction to 3 foundational practices: Attention Workout, Journaling and Mindful Listening, how each relates to Emotional Intelligence and suggestions for developing and applying them in daily life.

The "Attention Workout" practice is the Mindfulness of Breathing practice, intended to help you strengthen your "muscles" of attention.  "Journaling" is the practice of "free writing", where you're given an open-ended prompt (such as, "What I'm feeling now is ...") and then you just "brain-dump" whatever comes to mind onto paper, whether or not it relates to the prompt, and whether or not it makes any sense at the moment.  Mindful Listening is the practice of giving the gift of your full attention to another person when she speaks.  In a way, it's a form of meditation where the object of meditation is the other person.

We hope that by the end of SIY 101, participants will have an introductory understanding of the topic, gain some confidence that we can all become more emotionally skillful with training, and pick up enough tools to start making a difference in their own lives.


2. SIY 102: Day of Mindfulness

SIY 102 is a full day class lasting 7 hours (usually held on a weekend day), where participants gain a deeper understanding of the practices covered in SIY 101, get an opportunity to spend an entire day practicing them, and pick up a few additional useful practices.

The content covered in this class includes:
  • A more indepth understanding of Mindfulness of Breathing (this is actually the same content as the Meditation 101 class I teach in Google, which I plan to put on YouTube "real soon now").
  • A practice called "Looping" (short for "Closing the loop of communication"), which is an extension of Mindful Listening (covered in SIY 101) where participants graduate from merely listening mindfully to conducting a mindful conversation with mutual feedback.
  • Mindful standing, walking, eating and emailing.
  • Experimenting with "open awareness" vs "focused awareness" (mindfulness vs concentration).
  • A practice called the "Game of Self", where one person repeatedly asks the question to another, "Who are you?"
  • More journaling.
We hope that SIY 102 helps participants build a solid foundation for further growth of emotional competencies.


3. SIY 103: Developing the 5 Domains of Emotional Intelligence

SIY 103 is a series of 5 sessions, each lasting 2 hours, conducted over 5 weeks.  Each session explores one domain of Emotional Intelligence in some depth and introduces practices relevant to that domain.  "Homework" is given at the end of each session (eg, 10 minutes of mindful sitting a day).

Session 1: Self-Awareness.

The theme of this session is developing a deeper understanding between body, thoughts and emotions.  Topics covered in this session include:
  • Body scan ("The insula workout").
  • Discovering emotions in the body.
  • The relationship between emotion, aversion and thoughts. 
  • "Looping" (for those who didn't take SIY 102 before this).
Session 2: Self-Regulation

The theme of this session is moving from Compulsion to Choice.  Topics covered in this session include:
  • What Self-Regulation is and isn't.
  • Dealing with emotional triggers.
  • Moving from existential to physiological (from I am angry to I experience anger in my body).
Session 3: Motivation

The theme of this session is discovering your deepest motivations (which you already know, you just have to uncover them).  Topics covered in this session include:
  • Alignment:  Aligning my deepest values with what I do.
  • Envisioning:  Seeing my best future.
  • Optimism:  Maintaining self-confidence by becoming honest and comfortable experiencing both "positive" and "negative" emotions.
Session 4: Empathy

The theme of this session is developing a "social radar".  Topics covered in this session include:
  • Seeing similarities ("Just like me" meditation).
  • Offering kindness (loving-kindness meditation).
  • Listening for feelings (empathic listening).
Session 5: Social Skills

The theme of this session is "Leading with Compassion".  Topics covered in this session include:
  • Development of compassion (Tonglen).
  • Compassion and leaership.
  • Conducting difficult conversations.
  • Exploring who I am as a leader.
One feature of SIY 103 is the "buddy" system.  During the first class, we ask participants to pair up, so each would have a "buddy".  The idea behind this is to provide companionship for practice.  The analogy is starting a training regime at the gym.  Regular practice at the gym is very hard to maintain, especially in the beginning, so what helps many people stay with their training regimes is having a "gym buddy".  The gym buddy is somebody who goes to the gym with you 2 or 3 times a week.  The main benefits of having a gym buddy are that you never have to be alone at the gym, you have someone to encourage you as you work out, and there's someone to bug you if you don't go.  The SIY buddy is designed to do the same thing for your SIY practice.

We ask SIY buddies to converse at least once a week, with at least the first few minutes of the buddy conversation structured to cover these topics:
  • How is your practice?
  • What is one thing that happened this week that is relevant to SIY practice?
  • How was this conversation (we just had)?

We are very encouraged to find that SIY had been very helpful to many people.  We hope to "open source" all the SIY content soon, so that more people can benefit.  This will happen once we find the time to improve the presentation of the content (see, this bearing the Google name, I can't be as sloppy as I usually am).  My idea is to release SIY content under some sort of Creative Commons license that allows anybody to use SIY content in any way (including for profit), as long as they attribute the source.  An additional condition I'd like to impose, if I can, is that if anybody makes any improvements to the content, they are obliged to tell us and allow us to give that improvement away to all for free under the same license if we choose to.  That way, everybody can benefit from improvements made by everybody else.

Once we get our materials in order, I'll post it on this blog.  Stay tuned.

7 comments:

  1. Meng- Awesome job. Have you thought about also integrating some of the material from the other models of EI (The Mayer/Salovey model and the Bar-On model)? I ask because it seems like the three major theorists (Goleman, Mayer, Bar-On) have yet to converge totally and each have different positive things to offer to the continued emergence field of EI. I am glad I cam across your writings. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Meng, this is great and thank you for sharing! Can you comment on who is your faculty?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Faculty: Mirabai Bush, Norman Fischer, Philippe Goldin, Marc Lesser, Yvonne Ginsberg and myself. We're also training some folks in Google (Meng's padawans), whose names I will reveal when they are ready to have their own padawans.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is very exciting and thank you for pursuing this. I look forward to the SIY release. Are there openings to become a padawan?

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is very encouraging. I work in an IT department with wonderful young(er) people very open to ideas to learning new ways of becoming better. The few one on one meditation sessions I have led were good, however a structured program such as SIY would be awesome...looking forward to the release. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you so much for this Meng. I have also started to teach one on one meditation and want to bring a program like this into the corporate arena in Australia, so I also very much look forward to the SIY release. Thank you for developing it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Meng, I like that your goal was to attract the hard-to-convince crowd (the ones that referred to EI as hippie stuff). The scientific data is important. What is interesting to me is that even if one comes to EI out of self-interest, the lesson of treating others with compassion requires a generous spirit. The paradox being that the self-interested person becomes selfless. Which is a gift all of its own. I look forward to the material becoming "open source" in order to help us help you obtain your goal of world peace.

    ReplyDelete