James' Blog

Some uninteresting thoughts from a software engineer.

The mindful developer

Notes from a developer discovering spirtuality.

Written on 2023/05/02 5 min read

Setting the scene

It all started one day while in bed one evening. I was browsing the internet and stumbled on this app called Calm. I'd never really delved that much into meditation but I was in the middle of a swing of momentum of self-help and thought I'd try something new. I'd bought a year subscription and while I was at it, started reading a book that was recommended as a good introduction to the practice. That book was 10% Happier by Dan Harris.

A few things happened between then and now, I've read a few more books and meditated daily for nearly 3 months at the time of writing this. I think I've had a good enough taster for what this world might be like, obviously still a way off anything meaningful, but I thought I'd outline how I take these practices and apply them to my developer career day to day.

Might I add that this is very much the experience of a novice, please read this with that in mind. I'm still on a long journey with this, but this should demonstrate at least how I'm trying to better myself.

image of ocean


When things get tough, it's good to take some time to just do nothing. Having a rest and just recharging those mental batteries. In an ever-distracting and fast-paced world, we're pushed in either direction constantly context-switching between tasks. This can get exhausting. Just practicing doing nothing is important because it allows us that downtime and gives us the tools to be our stress relief. Meditation can not only improve our stress but our concentration and allow us to make better responses to situations in our daily life. We usually react on impulse to situations based on historic pictures we've painted for ourselves. When we react, rather than respond, we are acting out our brain's associations with past events. We can learn to notice our thoughts and emotions, so we can better understand and choose which action to take. Think about how this could help in your day job, perhaps after a particularly tense meeting, or when deadlines approach. Stay sharp and have that moment to just be.


Being present is an extremely important aspect of any meeting anyway, so this advice is no doubt common knowledge. But, I want to reiterate the importance of staying present when others are giving their time. Time is valuable, especially in the workplace. Be aware of each person as they speak and what they are saying and, really importantly this one, think before responding. Sometimes, the default reaction is not always the best response to a discussion. So ponder on what has been asked for a bit and decide on a suitable response, time will provide a more valuable answer.

This also applies to remote meetings, but social cues are often a little distorted.

Self criticism

I try to notice any tension in me when any criticism arises, even that I have given myself. It's important to try and practice self-love even when it feels the most difficult. I have to always remember that I'm doing my best and that it's ok to make mistakes, that's part of being human. This is probably a 'duh, we know this already' section, but sometimes, I think it doesn't hurt to remember this. Most people are just doing the best they can, including ourselves. Giving light to this tension removes the power from it offering a sort of stress release.

image of rocks on the beach

The Ego

The ego is part of the mind that encompasses the attitudes, beliefs, desires, and ultimately who you think you are. It's driven by pleasure or desires in human life and the experiences which all fuel this mental model. In the developer world, the ego can take the form of pushing ideas onto someone and placing yourself higher on the intellectual scale. In the core of it, none of this is healthy, or useful in a productive team. Being humble is a key philosophy you should take into your work environment, a sense of humility. Ensure this threads into every interaction, whether it be on code reviews, meetings, or planning sessions. Put yourself in the other colleague's shoes and where their mindset may be coming from, and treat it with respect, always.

As I mentioned earlier, most of this is still new to me. I'm learning the ropes and just appreciating every little moment I get to practice. This was just a short collection of snippets, I'm sure there'll be more to come as this journey progresses. I'll be being mindful of these concepts day to day, I hope you'll consider joining me.

- James