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Is there any way to stay mindful when your mind is busy at work?

  • What type of work do you do? Do you operate heavy machinery? Do you interact with people (e.g. waitor)? Is it manual labour? Do you have to focus hard/problem solve? – Hugh Apr 5 '16 at 9:46
  • As i am a sw developer so i have to keep my mind busy all the time. – Saurabh Padwekar Apr 5 '16 at 11:46
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It is not an easy task to stay mindful as a software developer. I am one myself, and I even wrote a book on that matter.

There are three things I consider important for myself.

First: I practice meditation when I am not working. This gives me the roots I need.

Second: I need to interrupt my daily workflow so I can remember my practice and what I learned from it.

Third: I need to focus on work when I am working and focus on the rest, when I am not working. Which means: no Facebook at work time. But when I become tired at work, I interrupt my workflow and practice.

For interruption, I use several tools which change from time to time. Influenced from Zen, I sometimes walk mindful: Kinhin. Or I cook the best cup of tea possible. Or I just meditate in my chair.

When you have interrupted work and you feel you are mindful, go back to work and hack. Give yourself "focus times". Don't waste your time with other things.

Working as a software developer means, your mind is occupied by a technology problem. Sometimes you cannot feel your body, because you are concentrated on the problem. I don't think this is bad. Just interrupt when your mind/body demands it, and go back to the analogue life. Sticking with the digital life is as bad as sticking with the analogue life alone (at least for us programmers).

You may also want to read another Zen programming related blog post of mine, in which I wrote about some of my thoughts on working.

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Is there any way to stay mindful when your mind is busy at work?

Simply be mindful of sensation in your body. E.g.

  • posture
    • Once been seated for a while there is bodily discomfort prompting you to move
    • when you see someone attractive, neutral or unattractive when you feel some attraction or repulsion or do not care. Watch these sensations.
  • feeling
    • touch your cloths
    • touch of the sea
    • feeling of the fingers when you type
  • Sensations due to mental states
  • Sensations due to mental content

Also see: Being mindful sitting/working on a computer

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I cannot find his video now but Mingyur Rinpoche recommends that if you have a job that requires a lot of focus and thinking about the task then begin with your focus on the breath for 10 seconds then start your task while being aware of the breath. Continue with the task for a while even if you forget the breath. Occasionally, perhaps every 5-10 minutes, take a few seconds away from your task to strengthen your attention on the breath and then return to your task while being aware of the breath.

Mingyur's method avoids problems people have with losing the breath every 5 seconds and having to fix their meditation so often that it interferes with work.

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