This week's issue of Huffington features two stories on how the urge to lead less stressful and more mindful lives is colliding with the real world.
First, Jaweed Kaleem shines a light on how race and efforts to diversify have affected the two-million-strong Buddhist movement in the U.S. Reporting from Seattle, "a city both known for its liberal culture and its segregated populace," Kaleem takes us inside the challenge of diversifying a tradition in which "the aim is to be one with the wider spiritual world in the pursuit of harmony, and ideally, that includes going beyond skin color differences."
In the U.S., Buddhists break down roughly into two groups. Asian-American Buddhists, who make up the majority, place little emphasis on meditation, unlike the white converts, who comprise about a third of the group. "With a few exceptions, the two groups -- mostly Asians and whites -- do not mix," writes Kaleem. "One of the main reasons is that while they may share a common name for their faith, their practices are often foreign to each other."
He introduces us to Tuere Sala, who grew up in public housing projects and is now a teacher at Seattle's Insight Meditation Society. She wants to diversify the movement, but because many people of color don't feel welcome in the largely white meditation groups, she leads entirely non-white sessions. "Are they separatists?" Kaleem asks. "Or are they expanding the practice?" The answer is a little of both. "People say we're going against Buddhism," Sala says. "They are kind of right. Only kind of."
Her idea is to enlarge the movement by creating a space for people of color to feel comfortable, while also integrating a spiritual practice that urges us to transcend barriers. It's a fascinating look at how the changing face of America is affecting our faith as well.
Meanwhile, Mallika Rao reports on how efforts to encourage mindfulness, relaxation and stress-reduction are changing the American workplace. "How might a boss compel us to trek in when the world is wired so we don't have to?" Rao asks. "Simple: bring the world into the office."
And to do that, more and more offices are featuring what is known in the architecture and design world as "third spaces," which once meant places to work that were neither home nor office, like coffee shops and libraries. Now, says Bob Fox, architect and publisher of the industry magazine Workspace Design, "the cafe-type third space has become commonplace."
From bowling alleys to massage centers to the two well-used nap rooms in the HuffPost offices, the American workplace is changing to reflect the blurring of the lines between our work and non-work lives. "Happy employees, goes the reasoning, are more than simply present," Mallika writes, "they're innovative."
The piece closes with a photo-roundup of some of the most creative spaces that bring out that innovative spirit -- from a hammock-hung "Treehouse Room" to a communal kitchen dressed-up as an Irish pub (at Google Dublin, of course).
And finally, we have a video that takes you behind the scenes in the making of the cover of our last issue about offshore wind power.
This story appears in Issue 40 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, March 15.