Search Inside Yourself (SIY) Field Report:

How Google’s Science-based Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence Program Was Delivered to All Educators and Government Employees in Bhutan

By Rich Fernandez

Technology and cultural globalization are changing societies around the world. The impact is swift, constant, and almost unavoidable—regardless of where people live. This is why Bhutan, a country with a predominantly agrarian lifestyle that’s experiencing a rapidly changing society, is working with Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute. With great foresight, the country’s Ministry of Education took initial steps of training all 10,000 school teachers in the nation in the Search Inside Yourself  (SIY) mindfulness-based emotional intelligence curriculum that was developed at Google. One year later, the other government ministries followed suit and are in the process of training all 18,000 civil servants in the country in SIY’s practical, science-based approach to mindfulness-based emotional intelligence.  

The goal is to teach emotional intelligence skills to Bhutan’s children as well as all government employees to equip them with social competencies that will help them adapt and be more resilient in this ever-changing world. And while Bhutan has an ancient and still-vibrant tradition of meditation and mindfulness, Search Inside Yourself (SIY) brings a contemporary, science-based, non-religious, accessible approach to the old traditions and focuses on emotional intelligence skills as the outcome.

The Ministry of Education’s Audacious Plan for Bhutan

When representatives from Bhutan’s Ministry of Education participated in an SIY pilot program led by Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) CEO Rich Fernandez and SIY-certified teacher Yizhao Zhang, they (along with a number of education directors) invited the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute to train and certify 125 Bhutanese educators  to become official SIY teachers, and subsequently offer train-the-trainer programming to their peers. Over the course of 2018 and early 2019, those teachers completed training and certification in the SIY curriculum, which enabled them to be able to successfully train all of the 10,000 school teachers in the nation though the summer of 2019 . These teachings will eventually be shared with young students in classrooms all over Bhutan.

What Does this Project in Bhutan Mean for SIYLI?

SIYLI’s main focus is to offer science-based mindfulness and emotional intelligence tools to communities and organizations around the world. SIYLI works to create opportunities for the SIY program to be taught as widely as possible. One channels for this is through our Train the Trainer programs within organizations, such as Google, SAP, the San Francisco Department of Public Health and others, which prepare employees to eventually teach SIY to their fellow employees. This allows organizations to offer the SIY neuroscience-based mindfulness and emotional intelligence curriculum to their employees at scale and on an ongoing basis. 

In fact SYLI’s Mission and vision is as follows:

We are a global community making mindfulness and emotional intelligence practical and accessible. Together we are working toward a more peaceful world in which all people feel connected and act with compassion.

SIYLI has found the work was especially rewarding in Bhutan, a nation with a heritage steeped in mindfulness and where happiness is considered integral to its society, reflected by being the first country to implement a Gross National Happiness Index. 

In an interview with SIYLI CEO Rich Fernandez, Minister Norbu Wangchuck from the Ministry of Education shared, “Bhutan has approximately 2,500 years of heritage that really focuses on important values: on empathy, on tolerance, on interdependence. And so, we in Bhutan take these values very seriously, at a societal level and especially so in educating our children. We now want to explore new ways of presenting or kindling these values.”

Minister Wangchuck praised the real and near-term benefits of the Search Inside Yourself  program stating, “It is already having an impact on them [teachers] personally and definitely professionally…enabling them to be more empathetic, more understanding, more tolerant.”  

The success of this SIY Program in the Ministry of Education and with the nation’s school teachers is just the beginning of SIYLI’s journey in Bhutan.

Teachers trained in the SIY program bring mindfulness and emotional intelligence practices to schools in Bhutan


Bhutan Introduces the SIY Program to all Government Ministries

Early in 2019, SIYLI was invited by the Bhutan Royal Civil Services Commission (RCSC) to help meet Bhutan’s vision of training all civil servants in the Search Inside Yourself program. This opportunity is primarily credited to the positive word of mouth from the successful 2018  teacher training with the Ministry of Education.

SIYLI signed an agreement with RCSC to offer another teacher training program to identify and certify 125 government employees who would subsequently train their peers. In effect, SIYLI will certify teachers in every Bhutanese ministry. Once the new SIY certified teachers graduate in the first quarter of 2020, they will then teach the SIY Program to all the remaining 18,000 civil servants in the country. This initiative with the RCSC will successfully build upon the work with the Ministry of Education. By the end of 2020, we anticipate that every Bhutanese civil servant/government employee will have experienced and participated in the SIY program.

In March, 2018 Director Tashi Lhamu of the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) and Rich Fernandez, CEO of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI) signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to train Bhutanese civil servants with SIYLI’s neuroscience-based mindfulness and emotional intelligence training.


SIYLI’s Global Footprint

Bhutan is SIYLI’s first country-wide training program. It is another example of SIYLI’s proven training to reduce stress, improve focus, raise peak performance and improve interpersonal relationships. SIY began as a mindful leadership initiative within Google. The success of the SIY program at Google, where it was and is the single most popular and highly rated program amongst employees, led to the founding of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute,which was spun off from Google 7 years ago as an independent non-profit organization. Today, through the work of SIYLI, the SIY curriculum  has spread to over 50 countries around the world. SIY is a globally recognized program and continues to bring mindfulness, emotional intelligence and compassionate leadership to individuals and organizations around the world.


Experience a Search Inside Yourself retreat:

Join us at the Garrison Institute from September 18-20, 2020 for a personal and professional development program: Search Inside Yourself with Dan Vazquez and Kully Jaswal.



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