The Mindful Developer – a course in meditation for people who write code.
Beat burnout, overcome self-doubt, and build the focus you need to write your best code by mastering your mind
The most valuable asset a programmer has is a clear mind. But the pressures of coding can make us feel like we have the cloudiest mind in the world. I know this feeling so well!
I’ve spent years of my coding career undermined by self-doubt and frustration. I’ve often felt like a complete fraud, out of my depth, like I’d be caught out at any moment – that I just wasn’t a good enough programmer.
I’ve burnt out more than once. The stresses and strains of continuous delivery, the feelings that I might be left behind by this ever changing industry.
I’ve spend countless frustrating nights staring at code, wondering what the hell is wrong, knowing it’s my fault but not having a clue what to do.
So what’s a programmer to do? How do you meet the challenges of being productive, while overcoming your inner emotional states and external pressures? How can you keep your mind in its best shape to continue meeting the demands of everyday programming?
These questions have lead me on a multi-year journey into the depths of my own mind. I’ve spent many years learning how it works, and why it sometimes fails.
And I want to share the results with you!
My secret? Learning mindfulness practices, including meditation.
Learning how to train my mind, with a series of effective “mental workouts”, has taught me the skills I need to stay calm under pressure, to recover well from busy periods, avoid burnout and work with my own difficult emotional states.
Taking care of your own mind is extremely important as a programmer, but we’re not normally taught how to do it.
I’m here to help.
Imagine a world where your relationship with stress is healthy. You’re much less reactive than you used to be – less likely to fly off the handle with coworkers, able to “let go” of the working day at night.
You notice when you’re being triggered into stress responses or other difficult emotional states much more quickly, and know what actions you can take to “pull yourself back”, before you get caught up in the stress itself, rather than solving the problems you need to solve. Or if you do get stressed, you can bring yourself back “down to earth”.
A world where you can “get out of your own way” and get on with the task at hand.
A world where you know how to work effectively with inner and outer distractions. Where you notice yourself being pulled out of the present moment, and know how to guide yourself back.
This is the world of The Mindful Developer.
Mindfulness meditation is a science backed practice that helps you to manage stress, work with difficult emotional states (like burnout, frustration, impostor syndrome and more).
I want to share the benefits of mindfulness practices with you – and I’m uniquely qualified to do so! I’ve been coding professionally for 17 years, practicing meditation for over a decade, and teaching it for 6 years.
The Mindful Developer is a four week, introductory level course that will:
- Give you an understanding of what mindfulness is, exactly how programmers can benefit, and how to learn it;
- Teach you practical, modern, science-backed mindfulness practices that you can use every day;
- Help you understand your relationship with stress and give you the knowledge you need to prevent and recover from burnout;
- Train your mind to work more gracefully with internal and external distractions;
- Show you how to apply the lessons learned to your everyday life as a programmer, including self-doubt, impostor syndrome and frustration.
Each week you’ll get access to:
Each week will consist of two videos. Each one is around 20 minutes.
There will generally be an exercise to complete while watching the videos. It will take around 1 hour every week to consume the course content. You are welcome to spread this out over more days if you like, and of course you’ll have lifetime access.
In addition, you’ll receive, on average, two mindfulness practices to try every week. I recommend that you put aside 10-15 minutes a day, five days a week, when you are getting started.
Week by week course breakdown
Week 1 – unleashing your optimal programming mind through mindfulness
We’ll cover the basics of mindfulness – what it is, how to learn it and how to get the most out of this course. You’ll learn:
- What is mindfulness and how do you learn it?
- Why mindfulness makes you a better programmer;
- Stress, overthinking and burnout, and why mindfulness helps.
By the end of the week, you’ll have learned your first two mindfulness practices :
- Belly breathing – a rapid relaxation exercise that helps you de-stress quickly
- Take 5 – a mindfulness exercise you can practice anywhere at any time, designed to quickly bring you back into the moment.
Week 2 – programming yourself for mindfulness through deliberate practice (a.k.a how to meditate properly)
You’ll learn Attention Regulation Training (otherwise known as meditation)
- Meditation 101 for programmers – debugging your mind by using your breath and your body to explore your present moment experience;
- Getting meditation “right” or why you don’t have to.
Practices this week include:
- A short mindfulness meditation experiment;
- The Body Scan meditation – bringing yourself out of your mind and into your body as a way to get out of your head.
Week 3 – focus, flow and writing your best code
This week focuses on focus. We’ll deepen into meditation practice and investigate how you can set yourself up to find flow while you code. You’ll learn how to:
- Make friends with distraction;
- Optimise your environment for flow states and hit maximum productivity.
This week’s practices include:
- The breathing meditation – learning the skill of refocusing when you’re distracted
Week 4 – the emotional life of a programmer – how to deal with frustration, self doubt and other negative mind loops
Emotions are often the biggest source of internal distraction. This week we’ll focus on managing several common emotional states encountered by programmers, including self-doubt and impostor syndrome. We’ll talk about how best to apply the practices in this course in the future.
By the the of this week you’ll:
- Understand thought loops and recurrent emotions
- Have a clear path towards becoming a mindful programmer
Do I need any meditation experience to participate in this course?
No! The course is fully self-contained, giving you all of the information you need to get started with building a mindfulness practice.
I’m worried that meditation requires a particular religious or spiritual outlook, is this true?
I’m roughly speaking a rationalist materialist athiest who used to be a Catholic and has a strong interest in Buddhism and modern theories of consciousness. One thing I’ve learned is that all traditions, including modern secularism, can embrace meditation as a practice in its own right, without needing to sign up to a particular worldview. Meditation, when done correctly, encourages an attitude of curiosity. I’ve seen people of all faiths and none benefit.
I already use an app like Headspace or Calm to meditate – how is this different?
I LOVE the apps. Headspace and Calm have paved the way to making meditation a first class activity for modern humans. So as a teacher I’m grateful to them!
To learn meditation requires three things:
- Information – ideas, concepts and instruction in meditation
- Reflection – sharing about your experience
The apps to a GREAT job at #2. I have found that a bit more emphasis on #1 and #3 can make for a smoother experience when learning about mindfulness.
The course provides greater detail about concepts and ideas needed to learn to meditate effectively that many of the apps can. As well as that, you’ll get to talk to both myself and the other students on the live calls, making #3 available (this is generally impossible on the apps).
What are your qualifications to teach this material?
As well as being a professional programmer for the last 17 years, I’ve studied meditation for over a decade.
- I’ve attended numerous courses (mostly in-person but several online).
- I’ve participated in several silent retreats
- I’ve completed three teacher training modules in meditation and multiple yoga teacher trainings
- I am currently participating in a further two year program in teaching Insight meditation.
As well as that, I’ve taught public classes and workshops for the last six years, including two years where I taught about ten public meditation classes per week. I’ve helped literally hundreds of people learn about meditation so far, and look forward to helping many more – including you I hope!
I teach from where I am, and easily acknowledge the limitations of my expertise – should there by anything I feel ill-equipped to handle I can point you in the right direction!
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