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Meditation for the budding programmer

It’s no secret that coding bootcamps are intense. At Fullstack we pull very long days, take in a great deal of information, and create functioning programs during lengthy workshops each day. For the kind of person who would attend a bootcamp, this kind of schedule is probably exactly what you would hope for. You come for the focus and intensity.

To balance such a schedule, I consider it my responsibility to take care of myself outside of the school in three ways in particular: my body, my mind, and my community. And all of these things should be as uncomplicated as possible.

For my body, I sleep, I exercise, and at eat well. I do these things to the extent that I can with the time I have.

For my community, well, I’m in a new city half a world away from Japan and naturally I don’t know many people. So it’s vital to me that I try to get out and socialize when I can. There are so many fascinating things happening in New York it’s almost overwhelming.

For my mind, I do my best to disconnect from my studies and projects at nights. This is really hard to do because I love building things with all the new tools that we are learning. It’s very tempting to keep working at home (just one more bug to squash!), but there are rapidly diminishing returns on that time, and it comes at the expense of lower energy levels the next day when I could otherwise be in good form.

Another thing I do for my mind is meditate in the morning. Not for a long time, but just enough to get centered before leaving and filling my brain up with more programming.

I have had an on-and-off relationship with meditation for years now. I always feel better when I’ve been sitting regularly for several weeks or more. But for me meditation is like going to the gym is for most people: I get busy and it’s the first thing to go.

Starting at Fullstack, I knew it would be critical to make the time to allow my mind some wakeful alone time, a moment of the day when I’m not mentally rushing from one thing to another.

So far so good. Meditating in the morning certainly makes the subway commute feel less frantic. And I think I start each long day of study from a stronger place for having taken the time to meditate.

It was a pleasant coincidence that a couple of the teaching fellows at Fullstack invited us all this week to a group meditation session in the morning before class. Just a time to sit and focus, without constraints of religion or prescribed form. They are calling this sitting time “mindFullstack”. Get it?

I’m happy to sit by myself, but, like many things, there is an unmistakeable power in doing it with a group of people.

There’s plenty of research on the benefits of meditation, particularly the good things it does for your brain. I’ve never been so concerned with the details but it’s nice to know that regular sitting has physiological benefits. The main point for me is that I somehow feel better, mentally clearer.

If you are curious, make a plan to stick with meditating for a set period of time, maybe a month, and see how meditation works for you. It doesn’t have to be every day; twice a week for a short amount of time should be doable.

Just ask yourself this: when was the last time I was awake and not doing something? No work, no reading, no watching, no listening, no self-talk, no judging?

Meditation for the budding programmer
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