Reboot your mind once a day
Any IT sysadmin will tell you that if you don’t schedule time for computer maintenance, your systems will schedule it for you. The same is true for the human mind. After all, humans are the most powerful computer out there (and the only one that can be mass produced by unskilled labour ;-)
When starting out in a tech field, we are intrinsically motivated to spend long hours trying to make a name for ourselves - after all, there’s no better feeling than mastering a new skill to level up in a knowledge industry. I remember this “sleep is for the weak” mindset fondly, but we do a lot of damage to our bodies during this period of our lives and the stress eventually catches up. Luckily, there is an easy solution. And no, it’s not drugs. It’s 20 minutes of mindfulness meditation every morning.
How does it work?
It works by allowing your mind to detach persistent thoughts that contribute to stress. It’s not about forgetting them, it’s just not letting them linger persistently, or in extreme cases, monopolize your mind during the day.
Seriously, does this work?
Yes it does. And like anything that relaxes you, the results will be immediately apparent. It’s the human equivalent of rebooting your PC.
Does the time of day matter?
No. It can be done at any time of the day. But it’s best to do shortly after you wake up in the morning and before you start your day.
Do I need music?
Music isn’t necessary, but some types of music can make it easier to distract you from your thoughts. As a result, music is often recommended if you’re new to meditation. It can’t be the type of music you normally listen to. It should be mostly instrumental and relaxing. Pick something that has sounds that you find intruiging. Here’s one I like from Matt Venuti: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mAPtwiwNtQ
What’s the procedure?
- Find a comfortable place to sit (carpet, chair, couch) where it is quiet and free of distractors (smartphone, smartwatch, anything that could randomly vibrate or make noise).
- Optionally put on your music (low volume).
- Close your eyes and take deep, slow breaths until you are aware and focused only on your surroundings. Remember that you are aiming for the same feeling you got on vacation when you just relaxed and enjoyed your surroundings (camp fire, scenery, beach). Detach your mind.
- Around 20 minutes later (the average human attention span) you’ll feel like it’s time to stop and slowly return to your day. That’s it.
Do I have to do this every day?
Yes. We are creatures of habit, and like routine. Don’t skip a day. Do it every day, preferably at the exact same time. Make it part of your routine.
Are there any other benefits I’ll see if I do this?
Yes, many. Your blood pressure will be lower (especially in the morning when it is usually the highest). You’ll be able to focus on tasks easily throughout the day, as well as deal with problems more objectively. People won’t aggitate you as much, or at all. Subtle nuances will be easy to spot in others. You’ll move from emacs to vim. Coffee will taste better.