Meditation, along with getting enough sleep, eating properly, and regular exercise, is one of the key pillars for living a healthy life. It reduces stress (1), reduces the inflammation response caused by stress (2), and improves the symptoms of stress-related conditions (3). It also reduces anxiety symptoms (4) and increases activity in brain areas linked to positivity and optimism (5). People who meditate are more creative (6) and have longer attention spans (7).
Whereas, only a few decades ago, meditation was seen as something for hippies and monks in the Western world, nowadays we seem to have woken up to the many health-related, scientifically backed benefits of meditation.
As such, it should come as no surprise that some of the most powerful, most famous and wealthiest people in the world have openly attributed a portion of their success to meditation. The list of celebrities who vouch for meditation, and in particular transcendental meditation (TM), seems endless. Here are only a few of them:
- Ray Dalio, billionaire hedge fund manager of Bridgewater Associates;
- Steve Aoki, famous DJ;
- Novak Djokovic, currently ranked no. 1 in male tennis;
- Mark Bertolini, former CEO of Aetna;
- David Lynch, filmmaker and probably the biggest advocate of TM;
- Mick Jagger, frontman of the Rolling Stones.
I can go on. Suffice to say that a wide variety of people believe that meditation is good for them. That includes me. I've been practicing TM for almost five years, twenty minutes a day. It feels like a nap, but without the drowsiness. I feel refreshed and energized after a session and I believe it's vital for my health and well-being.
I also believe it makes me more productive. Because here's the inside scoop: meditation is an exercise in self-restraint. Most forms of meditation require you to focus on something, whether it be your breath, a word, or an object in front of you, for a certain period of time. You try to empty your mind of everything else.
However, like waves on a beach, thoughts will always come back. You'll catch yourself thinking of other things. That's okay. Gently return your focus to the task at hand. When you first start out meditating, you'll find this very difficult. It'll seem impossible to concentrate on a single something for more than a few seconds. But all it takes is practice. Eventually, you'll be able to meditate for twenty minutes or longer almost entirely without thoughts entering your mind.
This act of self-restraint, the ability to push away what presses on you immediately, the ability to push away instant gratification, is linked to being a productive individual, and particularly to being a productive developer. It almost needn't be said that working remotely as a developer can be an almost continuous act of self-restraint, with easy distractions either a click or a room away at most.
As such, aside from the many health-related benefits of meditation, meditation can also help you become more productive, because you practice self-restraint in an age where what's inessential is loud and hard to resist.