Despite their apparent differences, programming and meditation have a lot in common. Both demand focus and concentration and can enhance your ability to think clearly and solve problems.
When you program, you are constantly thinking critically and solving problems. You must be able to debug your code when something goes wrong, pay close attention to the little things, and think rationally. This can be mentally difficult since it calls for intense focus and concentration.
Focus and concentration can be enhanced through the practice of meditation. It can entail sitting in quiet while concentrating on your breath or a mantra, which is a particular word or phrase. This can assist with distraction removal and strengthen your capacity for sustained attention.
I started meditating early in my career as a programmer. Having had an interest in Buddhism, the tangental practice of meditation was appealing as a self-care ritual. I didn’t anticipate the impact its benefits would have on my skill, motivation, and focus. These necessary attributes compounded as my practice grew.
Meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. This is important for programmers, as the work can be challenging. The ability to stay calm and focused in the face of stress can be invaluable in the programming world.
I had always been a workhorse, spending hours upon hours coding and debugging. Meditating for just a few minutes a day helped me to clear my mind and focus on the task at hand. I discovered I could sleep better and was less irritable.
As I continued to meditate, I found that my productivity increased, and I was able to tackle problems that previously seemed insurmountable with ease. My coding was more precise and effective. I was able to think more imaginatively and provide fresh ideas for problems.
I was so impressed with the benefits of meditation that I began to teach it to my colleagues. They also discovered that it made people more productive and happier at work.
In another post, Reading Habits for Programmers, I discuss the benefits of practicing focus to improve coding skills. I mention that “if reading benefits your coding ability, then meditation does too”. I would go as far as to say that reading is a form of meditation. Any time we intentionally shift our focus from scattered to laser-like, we are practicing mindfulness.
Setting out a short period of time each day to sit quietly and concentrate on your breathing might serve as a simple way to include meditation into your regular schedule. There are numerous styles of meditation, so it’s worthwhile to try out different techniques to determine which ones suit you.
Walking meditation (kinhin) is another form that has helped get my through challenging times. Solutions, both to engineering problems as well as life obstacles, reveal themselves mid-stride. Stress relief can be induced by physical activity. Fresh air and blood flow are good for the brain. Light exercise is the necessary distraction that gives our mind space to breathe.
Though they may appear unrelated, programming and meditation have more in common than you may imagine. Making meditation a daily habit can help you focus better, manage stress and anxiety, and become a better programmer.