Meditation and Coding

Posted by warrend on February 18, 2017

We all want to be at our best when we’re writing code. This is why we should all develop a daily meditation practice.

Sit quietly with your eyes closed for one minute and pay close attention to your mind as if watching your thoughts on a movie screen. Notice all of the random thoughts, emotions, judgements, comments, observations, planning, and narratives taking place. And notice how during the “noticing” you find yourself swept away by another thought, forgetting that your job was to watch your thoughts for one minute in the first place. If you were to record this mind storm and play it for the world, you would be labeled insane.

This mind storm (or monkey mind as Buddhists call it) is the constantly running code in the background, and most of the time we aren’t even aware it’s happening (like when you’re swept away in a thought). We go about the day ignorant to our thoughts as they push and pull us in three different directions. To quote The Matrix, we are slaves of our own minds. Cheesy but kind of true.

However, there is a solution to this problem.

Doing just ten minutes of mindfulness mediation a day can break this cycle. The code will still be running, but the volume will be turned down. Instead of reacting without thinking, mediation provides us with a buffer to step back and say, “Oh, I see what’s going on up there.” We can then choose our response instead of reacting like a frightened animal.

As humans, we tend to identify with and become our thoughts. We think, “I’m sad,” or “I’m frustrated by coding.” How do you know you’re sad? You can feel it, notice it. But is the thing noticing sadness actually sad? How can you be something that you’re noticing? You can’t. Thoughts are like seltzer bubbles; they come and go with no footing in reality. They are fleeting, therefore, you can’t be your thoughts.

Becoming aware of these two things helps in every aspect of life, especially in a focused task like coding.

All that being said, I’ll be the first to admit I get frustrated during life, coding, etc., and some days, it’s impossible not to become my thoughts. But without meditation, I’d be much worse off, and probably not in this program. Give it a shot, you have nothing to lose.

If you’re new to meditation and want some easy to follow advice on the subject, a good place to start is the 10% Happier app. Otherwise Google Dan Harris, Sam Harris (not related), or Joseph Goldstein.