How does daily meditation practice help me grow as a professional software developer
I started to meditate around three years ago, to be more precise my meditation journal begins on 1 September 2015. Yes, I do keep a meditation journal. I started 20 minutes sessions per day, mostly breath awareness.
During the first two years, my practice consistency was poor, there were entire months without a single sit, but from January 2018 I started to work very hard on my consistency cause:
Devotion and consistency are the key components to accomplish any goal.
Now I sit daily for two hours. One hour in the morning and the other in the evening. Most of the people that I am in touch are telling that two hours is just a waste of time, but I can assure them that even two hours per day is not enough to keep with the amount of negativity that we collect daily.
Meditation is like a garbage collector, helps me to clear my mind and makes enough room for me to be efficient.
I want to clarify the term meditation, or how do I understand it.
Meditation is a psycho-spiritual practice, where a person (meditator) sits usually in a stable sitting position for a limited amount of time and keeps the concentration on a specific object. When the mind wanders away, the meditator gently returns the awareness to the initial object.
There are thousands of different techniques of meditation, where the meditator juggles with various objects: it could be breath, it could be sensations, maybe feelings, maybe sounds mantras, but they usually converge towards if the mind wanders away, gently return it to the initial object.
The big caveat. If I ask someone what do you know about meditation? Practically all the answers flow towards the word stress relieve. And here is the biggest problem of the rookie meditators like me. You start meditating, and initially, you can get some "very good sits" where you feel pleasant sensations, like different colors, sometimes light, sometimes you feel so bright that it seems you do not have a body at all.
After, you will start to penetrate new layers of your subconscious mind. You may feel like digging into a big pile of hard shit which begins to stink after shaking.
If you practice daily eventually you will face all your demons (all the emotions that you buried deep down in your subconscious), and I wish you all the courage, devotion and strong determination to overcome them.
Enough about personal spooky stuff. Let's see how meditation helps me objectively.
Benefits of meditation
I will present the following list of good things that are developed by rigorous meditation practice.
- Concentration power
- Tolerance (Equanimity)
- Strong determination
There are times when you sit in a meeting or at standup, and one of your colleagues is presenting a subject, or even the client is presenting the new feature to be developed, and you look in vain, unfocused like you are in a parallel world.
Or other times when you have to create the architecture of a new application, with a lot of features described in 200 pages of documentation, and you look at this stuff and say to yourself, fuck no! This is impossible.
If you were in one of the above situations, then you probably lack concentration power.
Concentration power is a skill, that can be developed little by little, and the benefits of a concentrated mind are invaluable.
For me concentration power is like the RAM of a computer, the more it has the better software it can run, and more efficiently.
By practicing meditation, you develop a very high degree of concentration power. Objectively the meditation helped me to be much more focused at work, to write code of a higher quality because I have a higher degree of concentration power and focus that I can sustain for more extended periods of time.
Another point that I observed is that I can understand bigger pieces of code, entire applications, I can debug packages and intuitively know how they are built. For node.js development this is a prevalent practice, to dive into the code to find what parameters a function can have, or why it is throwing an error cause the documentation on npm packages rarely is adequate.
Am I a master of concentration? Hell no! I have an enormous amount of stuff still to learn, and the paradox is that the deeper I go in meditation, the further the arrival point seems.
Tolerance is a timid animal in our society very hard to find one; we are full of ego that blinds us so much that we rarely see things as they are. Software development is such a good soil for Ego development. No one is smarter than me syndrome. I fall in this trap way too often, which makes me arrogant sometimes.
Tolerant people in a team are invaluable, they energize other team members, they seldom complain, and are not annoyed by every little thing, and when you had tight deadlines and worked the weekends, it's tough to keep your composure and be tolerant.
Conflicts are triggered practically always by prolonged stress activities, and we as humans did not learn other ways to cope with stress other than sharing our "goodwill" to others.
Meditation comes here as a great teacher. In your sessions when you scream of pain cause your knees are in a bad position, and your timer shows that you have to sit ten more minutes, the single method to survive this is to accept things, to be tolerant. You practically are forced into tolerance, and the second day at your job, when someone makes some bad choices, and you are reviewing their code you think maybe he is tired, and need some help with the task. Your thought process automatically shifts toward compassion.
There are many benefits of intensive meditation but what I found in me lately is the firm determination to finish what I started. Given it's a new application for our client, or a side project, or even reading a programming book.
The strong determination means you are like a wolf who is following the pray many miles till it drops.
Having this skill developed is a handy thing, you push harder and harder, and the project is moving forward, this is a very motivating quality to see in others.
How explicitly meditation is developing this skill I can't explain yet, it is out of my expertise at this level, in time when I'll be more experienced I will try to explain in details why meditation is helping strong determination.
In other words, this three qualities I see objectively that are developed by continuous practice of meditation, I suggest anyone of you give it a try, I am not a qualified teacher, but I can give you some advice on how to start, etc.
As one of the most respected teachers that I follow says:
May all of you be happy, be free from ignorance and enjoy the real peace within. (S.N. Goenka)