Scotland’s business elite turn to Buddhist monk

THEY might sometimes come across as Gordon Gekko in the Hollywood movie Wall Street emulating his infamous rasping mantras “idealism kills every deal”, “lunch is for wimps” and “greed, for lack of a better word, is good”.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. Picture: Kobal

But now Scotland’s business elite are clamouring to sign up for lectures on “mindfulness” run by a Buddhist monk.

Gelong Thubten, from the Samye Ling monastery in Langholm in the Scottish Borders, is teaching meditation skills to bring out their inner Zen allowing them to show their compassionate and creative side to their employees.

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Thubten, whose clients include Google, where he runs monthly “mindful leadership” sessions, completed his latest seminars last week in Inverness, where his lectures were sponsored by The Royal Bank of Scotland, who sent a number of their staff along.

Speaking about the importance of “mindfulness” – an awareness of ourselves and the world around us aimed at improving mental wellbeing – Thubten, who has been a monk for 22 years, said: “The extra pressure on managers is that their every word and deed affects other people. I teach them about the impact of their words, how to be tolerant and how to be the bossy ones.

“Some managers can be like a bull in a china shop so I get them to be more aware of ­others and see their inter­dependence with other people. Everything we do affects ­others.”

The training, which he runs for free seeking only donations to charity, teaches people to develop a daily 10-15 minute habit of meditation, and then harness the feeling to use during challenging situations.

“I teach them to train their mind to become less stressed and reactive and then how to apply that in the heat of the moment in a crisis. That in turn will help them behave in a more compassionate and creative way to problems.”

RBS were contacted but declined to comment.

Business organisations welcomed the growing popularity of mindfulness.

Ruth Stuart, research adviser, learning and development, at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: “It’s all about making sure you’re in the ‘right place’ to have those difficult con­versations so that you don’t ­explode.

A spokesman for the Confederation of British Industry Scotland, said: “The health and mental well-being of employees is a key priority for employers and there is a growing trend for firms to offer a range of courses including mindfulness and yoga in order to help manage stress.”