Meditative Practices To Unleash Your Potential

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Demystifying Mindfulness

Ever walked into a room and completely forgot what it is that you were doing? Or perhaps you have arrived home from a long day at the office and realized that you can’t even recall the drive to get there. The truth is that many of us live on auto-pilot. We get through the day without any true sense of awareness or appreciation for the things around us. Practicing mindfulness helps us to wake up from this zombie-like state and get back to being fully involved in our daily lives.

Mindfulness is not just a part of mediation. It’s something we can carry with us into our daily lives. Being mindful simply means that you are intentionally paying attention with curiosity and openness. When we choose to be mindful, the effects are instantaneous. Our ability to learn, be productive and live a well-balanced life can be hugely improved.

Software engineers are asked to stay on top of the latest developments in their ever-changing field and seek to understand as much as possible about the technologies that they work with. They also need to scan through lines of code to uncover syntax errors, bug fixes and perform reviews on the work of their peers. These acts require hours of intense, uninterrupted concentration. By borrowing some mindfulness techniques, we can tap into a focused flow-state and glide towards our goals.

Beginner’s Mindset

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From the time we are born, we start making observations and judgments about the world around us, creating stories in our heads and patterns in our subconsciousness. Like lines in the sand, our minds get used to following the pathways that we have traveled before. This limits our ability to problem-solve because it keeps us from thinking outside the box. The good news is we can choose to find a new pathway. The key is being aware of the thought patterns that we have grown accustomed to and not being afraid to go another direction.

Taking on a beginner’s mindset allows us to look at familiar challenges with fresh eyes as if we have never them before. Many times you’ll see the solution was in front of you all along, but you may have been blinded by one-way thinking. Innovation comes from viewing problems from a different angle than before.

It’s important to note that convergent thinking becomes easier when we practice being present in the current moment. If we are distracted, frustrated, or tired, it’s easy to keep our thinking small and reference solutions that worked in previous scenarios that might not be the most efficient for the task at hand.

Get Set for Success

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One of the best ways to make mindfulness a habit is to try meditating first thing in the morning. Many people have a hard time quieting their thoughts. Our modern lifestyle is full of distractions vying for our attention. It’s common to feel like you have a ‘monkey mind’ that’s jumping from one thought to another without control. Sitting down to meditate before you check your emails or social media can reduce mental and emotional distractions.

This is also a great time to set an intention for the day. Take this time to think about what you want to accomplish today. By setting a clear intention, you give yourself something to come back to if you are pulled away. You can remind yourself of this intention and refocus your attention on what you want/need to finish.

Approaching a Problem

Once you are ready to get started working, instead of jumping right into coding, intentionally slow down. Observe the problem you are working through without judgment. Resist the urge to label a problem as bad, difficult, or easy. Sometimes we psych ourselves out and get intimidated by things we see as difficult. Other times we may start to implement an obvious solution that isn’t the most effective option. Using a non-judgmental approach, we simply see the problem for what it is and reduce the possibility of making it more complicated.

In addition to eliminating judgments, making sure that we are only doing one thing at a time can greatly improve productivity and promote innovative thinking. One way to get better at this is by participating in body scanning meditations that ask you to close your eyes and observe one part of your body at a time.

Taking a Mental Break

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It’s highly recommended to step away from your keyboard every 30–60 mins. Clearing your mind for a moment can bring the solution you are looking for to the forefront of your consciousness. Next time you find yourself stuck, try some breathing exercises or taking a walk.

When you’re in a flow state, it’s easy to lose track of time. However, it’s important to check in with your body every once in a while. Do you need water or food? Are you feeling any tension in your wrists, shoulders, or neck? Taking care of yourself ensures you’ll be able to continue doing the work you love for many years to come.

Takeaways

The benefits of mindful programming are plentiful. It not only improves performance on the job but can contribute to a more well-balanced life. It can keep you focused on the goals you have set, and give you the ability to absorb information more readily with an open mind.

Best of all it’s completely free! You can look up guided meditations on Youtube or check out some mobile apps like Calm, Simple Habit, or Head Space.

Seek practice over perfection and you’ll start to unlock potential you never knew you had.

Software Engineer — Chicago

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