Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Offer Corporate Clients Unlikely Key to Success -- Meditation

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Medical data now conclusively supports the fact that meditation reduces stress levels and leads to healthier, happier, and more productive lives for its practitioners. The problem for most people is that they don't know where to begin. Greg de Vries and Brett Jennings---who each credit meditation for their professional success---have turned their attention to addressing the need for practical meditation education in corporate America. Beginning in September they will offer their popular meditation classes on-site to corporate clients who wish to enhance productivity, performance, and communication in the workplace.

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The jury is in; it's not even a question that [meditation] works. It . . . has important physiologic effects in terms of lowering blood pressure, decreasing heart rate, or decreasing levels of pain.

Upon first glance, Greg de Vries and Brett Jennings may seem like your typical Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. They both received Bachelor of Science degrees from Santa Clara University and went on to start high-tech companies in the booming 1990s. Both de Vries and Jennings achieved success and wealth while still young, but like true serial entrepreneurs, they did not rest on their laurels -- after selling their first successful companies, they went back and founded new ones, achieving even greater success.

Although most people envy the material wealth of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, typically, their success comes with a price -- incredible stress. Many upstart CEOs make millions only to live unbearable lives of intense, self-imposed pressure, and see their family lives crumble around them even as they achieve more material riches. But this has not been the case for Greg de Vries or Brett Jennings, and they are now focusing their energies on showing students that it doesn't have to be the case with them, either.

Although de Vries and Jennings traveled in the same circles throughout the 90s, the two actually met not in college or at a business confab, but at a meditation group. Both de Vries and Jennings credit meditation not only with their low stress levels and high quality of life, but also with much of their professional success. Says de Vries, "I don't know where I would be without meditation."

There is no disputing the fact that people in high-pressure professions come under a lot of stress, and there is increasing medical and scientific research linking stress to real, physical maladies. In fact, stress has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease; two of the deadliest killers of Americans today.

"There are a lot of negative ways to release stress," says de Vries. Self-destructive behavior such as drinking, drug abuse, gambling, and other vices offer an escape for many stress-riddled professionals. But these stress-reduction "techniques" typically exacerbate the problems leading to the original stress by causing people to miss work, face financial difficulties, or even have marital problems.

Meditation offers a positive alternative. According to the National Institute of Health's 1994 report on meditation, practitioners of meditation show notably lower secretion of stress hormones. In 34 studies performed by the Institute of Noetic Science, meditation was shown to reduce both acute and chronic anxiety. And more directly, cardiologist Dr. Paul Robinson of the Emory University School of Medicine, says, "The jury is in; it's not even a question that [meditation] works. It . . . has important physiologic effects in terms of lowering blood pressure, decreasing heart rate, or decreasing levels of pain."

Clearly, introducing practical meditation techniques to the business world would have positive effects. Greg de Vries and Brett Jennings offer a strikingly non-"New Age" brand of meditation to corporate clients interested in enhancing workplace productivity, lowering health care costs, and allowing employees an opportunity to release stress in a positive, healthy manner.

De Vries and Jennings offer both public and private meditation classes. They host a popular meditation group in the Silicon Valley area, and they're offering a five-week meditation course in San Jose, beginning September 10. On-line information for the course can be found at the San Jose Meditation website. But the duo's real goal is to reach out to corporate America through in-house workshops to introduce their non-denominational stress-reduction techniques.

"We have a full curriculum," says de Vries. And he and Jennings are particularly qualified to teach meditation in a professional setting, given their entrepreneurial gravitas. "This is meditation for practical people---it appeals to people of all religious backgrounds, and none. It is for anyone who wants to live a happier, healthier, more productive, and more rewarding life."

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Greg deVries

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