Starting Makers, meditation, and methods in my mind.
On April 14th I started the Makers Academy PreCourse, taking my first steps on my journey to becoming a software developer. The PreCourse introduction material stresses the importance of achieving a balance between work and rest, and the usefulness of three things: sleep, exercise, and meditation/mindfulness.
This last element is the most interesting to me – it’s one of the things that drew me to Makers in the first place, the focus on improving and maintaining emotional resilience in a corporate environment. Makers offers daily meditation sessions and twice-weekly yoga, run by the Chief Joy Officer, Dana Svoboda (best job title ever, right?)
As someone who experiences anxiety and who knows firsthand the impact it can have on one’s studies, as soon as I passed my Makers interview, I started looking for ways to become a more mindful person. I was not going to let my anxiety thwart my chance at a new career.
I had tried Headspace several years before but hadn’t gotten on well with it, so this time I downloaded Calm and started on the How to Meditate series with Jeff Warren. I practice every morning, and it helps me set a mindful tone for the day before I begin my work.
The lesson I’ve found most useful thus far has been the one on equanimity, the practice of opening oneself up to things going on within and without you, and maintaining an easy-going attitude regardless of the positive or negative stuff that you encounter.
I’ve found this super-helpful as I’ve been working through the PreCourse material. One thing I’ve noticed about coding thus far is that it generates a lot of feelings; frustration, joy, confusion, anger, anxiety, triumph, curiosity – I could go on. Suffice to say, it gets loud inside my head. If left unacknowledged these feelings can morph themselves into undesirable behaviours, even habits, that might prohibit me from being the best I can be.
Equanimity has taught me the importance of acknowledging these feelings, of noticing their presence and warding off any unwanted effects with my new favourite three magic words – and that’s okay.
I’ve been using them constantly, whenever I’ve noticed frustration starting to creep in when bug-hunting, or that I’m anxious about today’s quiz and have been avoiding it. Even the positive feelings (though I’ve been trying to move away from judging feelings as bad or good) have been met with a warm, relaxed acknowledgement.
Even when I’m struggling with equanimity or am unable to maintain an easy-going attitude – that’s okay too. For someone who has spent too much time berating myself for the existence of my anxiety, this practice is revolutionary.
It’s an oversimplification to say that the human brain is like a computer, but regardless, let’s run with that metaphor for a bit, as I’ve been having fun putting equanimity into coding terms. I was noodling around on Atom with Ruby and I made this:
Kinda cool, huh? But not nearly as impressive as my brain. In iTerm2, no matter how many times I run equanimity.rb or how many times I call .equanimity on any instance of Feelings, the code will still run the same way.
But my brain can do some epic stuff – every time I run equanimity, every time I have a feeling and tell myself “and that’s okay” I make it easier to do it next time – I can train my brain, train myself to become more okay with the buzz of feelings that goes on inside my head. I may not be able to change them, but I can go one better – I can be okay with it.