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Well-being: Inner-net and not the internet is the core of our existence

Plugging into your ‘inner-net’ by practising mindfulness will keep you centred at work, according to Gopi Kallayil, Google’s chief evangelist for brand marketing.
Gopi Kallayil, Google’s chief evangelist for brand marketing, speaking at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2016. Courtesy Sharjah International Book Fair
Gopi Kallayil, Google’s chief evangelist for brand marketing, speaking at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2016. Courtesy Sharjah International Book Fair

If you need help with anything, the first site you’ll almost certainly turn to is Google. But Gopi Kallayil, Google’s chief evangelist for brand marketing, says that while the internet has become like an “invisible central nervous system” in our lives, the most important technology is still the one within us – what he has termed “the inner-net”.

Having begun yoga classes for employees at the Google headquarters in California in 2006, Mr Kallayil is a leading global voice encouraging “mindfulness” at the workplace.

“Starting with our brain, our breath, our consciousness, our mind, our bodies – this continues to be still the most sophisticated set of tools and technology that are available to us,” says Mr Kallayil, who works with Google’s sales teams and helps to grow customer brands through digital marketing.

He makes us realise that it is this technology that processes everything we do – the food we eat or conversations we have.

“So the quality of our life is really the quality of our inner technologies. If we can keep this inner technology in a state of peak performance, then our life functions better,” says Mr Kallayil, who spoke about his book The Internet to the Inner-net, published in September, at the Sharjah International Book Fair. His book offers inspiration and rituals – including yoga, mindful eating, and even napping – to help us access our own inner worlds.

Having studied engineering, Mr Kallayil also has a master’s from the Indian Institute of Management and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

He highlights that the paradox we live in now is that the same amazing technologies that make our lives easier are also driving us to tremendous amount of distractions – whether it is a ping, a message or a tweet.

Which is why he stresses the importance of finding “a way to unplug from the internet and plug into our inner-net”.

To help achieve this, he holds free weekly classes at Google’s headquarters. He also starts meetings with colleagues and clients with meditation and once led 11,600 Google executives through a yoga session.


Gopi Kallayil tells Malavika Vettath his thinking behind introducing yoga to Google:

What prompted you to start the yoga classes?

I personally have benefited enormously from yoga and meditation. The greatest way I can say thank you to the teachers I learnt from in India is to pass it on. Google allows you to use 20 per cent of your time to pursue your passion, so I use that to bring yoga to other Googlers (what Google employees are called). That is my mission.

How do you plan to take it to a global level?

We just brought it to the Dubai office. My goal is to introduce yoga to every single Google office in the world.

How does meditation help before meetings?

You need a moment of calm to get some clarity. You might have just rushed in from an­other meeting and rather than dive into the agenda, if we can meditate for five minutes, it allows your body and mind to calm down. You feel emotionally more grounded. That en­ables you to engage with the content and people much better.

In between long work hours and extensive travel, when do you find time to meditate or do yoga?

We could do it right now. It could be in aeroplanes, waiting at traffic signals. You just find the time, it’s a choice you make.

How have Googlers viewed these programmes?

Very positively. They are open to it as it optimises this core asset that every person brings to life.


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Updated: November 16, 2016 04:00 AM