Web designer’s are a driven lot, and many of us suffer from depression and can be home-bodies or workaholics if we’re not careful. We know there are dangers to sitting in front of a computer screen all day, and we strive to love our jobs and take care of ourselves with standing desks, yoga balls, exercise and fad diets. Whether we stick to our new commitments or fall back to our old ways of ordering too much pizza, one thing is for sure; being a web designer, digital marketer or any type of pro that sits at a computer a lot can be produce a lot of anxiety. That’s partly why I got really into hand-lettering this past year to reconnect with the physical world, and a big reason why I find meditation so important to incorporate into my day to day life.
Simply put – the kind of meditation I find incredibly useful is often referred to as ‘mindfulness meditation,’ becoming aware of one’s breath, following it in and out, and allowing thoughts to pass by. When you realize you’ve become distracted (as you inevitably do- by a thought of business, or anything) you bring your mind gently back to the present moment. Noticing the sensations in your body, and your breath moving in and out of your lungs and nose.
A couple tips – I think sitting with an upright, wakeful posture is helpful whether with your back against a chair, or with your butt on a Zafu or ‘zazen cushion’, which allows you to sit upright closer to the floor comfortably. You can also do this in bed, and when my mind is racing and I can’t stop thinking about work and other things – using this concentration on breath and the present moment technique is incredibly helpful for falling asleep.
Benefits of mindfulness meditation for digital marketers are increased feeling of well-being, and better ability for being in the moment
Try doing this 20 minutes a day for one week, and see the kind of benefits you can derive from it. Don’t get frustrated with the fact that thoughts will still flood in. The point isn’t to remove all thoughts, but just to simply be aware of them and then let them pass by like clouds in the sky and not hold onto them. As you let them go, you focus again on your breathing, not trying to slow it down or speed it up, but just notice it and follow the breath in and out. Try to notice the place where the in breath end and the out breath begins and vice versa.
Simply by being aware of the breath you’re reconnecting with the physical world instead of letting your mind race and getting wrapped up in things you can’t control at this exact moment anyway. When you’re not sitting you may feel more in tune with what’s going on around you, and notice it when you’re indeed doing one thing but thinking about something else. This consciousness can be a little startling at first – realizing that you’ve done this a lot without realizing it.
Any activity can be informed by this idea of being present and in the moment. You can wash dishes with this mindset, and try to focus simply on the task at hand, bringing your mind on the activity directly every time your mind wanders to something else entirely. It’s a great exercise because you’ll find that you do a better job at any one thing when your attention is repeatedly brought back to thinking about your current physical action rather than on a hundred other things.
This is why I think it’s useful for digital marketers and web designers, as well as other professionals, because it’s easy to get caught up in tracking time, or checking our social media accounts compulsively for likes and getting damn near frantic about our seemingly very important next couple of activities. I find focusing solely on my breathing on a regular basis in the way I’ve mentioned above is so profound in a way that describing it can never be. It’s something you have to experience rather than hear or read about.
Here’s an example of a guided meditation that is along the lines of what I’ve talked about that might be helpful to start with:
I’ve also found this site – Calm.com incredibly useful, with 2, 5, 10, 15, and 20 minute meditations both guided and with a traditional bell. I’ve attended Zen meditation classes in Uptown, Minneapolis where I live and the bell method was what they used there; the bell is struck occasionally simply to bring wandering minds back to the present moment.
Resources to look more deeply into mindfulness meditation
On the subject of zen or mindfulness meditation, those who know more than me would suggest that you should spend more time sitting (meditating) than reading about it – as experience is much more useful than knowledge, but here are some wonderful resources to help increase your intellectual understanding of this subject:
Books and Audiobooks:
1. Zen Meditation in Plain English – John Daishin Buksbazen
2. Meditation in Action – Chogyam Trungpa
3. The Way of Zen – Alan Watts
4. Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind – Shunryu Suzuki
5. Meditation for Beginner’s – Jack Kornfield
Or these wonderful online resources and interesting articles on Zen meditation to help you get started or give you more perspective:
2. How to Meditate Video – by Yokoji Zen Mountain Center on Youtube
Repeated studies have demonstrated that meditation can rewire how the brain responds to stress. “The increased ability to focus, he says [A google employee named Duane], was a major factor in his promotion to a management post where he oversaw nearly 150 Googlers.”
3. “In Silicon Valley, Meditation Is No Fad. It Could Make Your Career” on Wired.com
Although only a fraction of the data has been published so far, the experiment offers powerful evidence [The article notes that some of the benefits may stem from the social support of the zen program studied] that a regular meditation practice can sharpen our perception, promote a greater sense of well-being, and encourage a more empathic response to others.
4. “Just Breathe: Confirming Meditation’s Benefits” – Pacific Standard Magazine
5. “How to Meditate: 10 Important Tips” – Good Life Zen
One of the most important techniques from this article, that I previously haven’t mentioned is the method of counting your breaths. On your outbreath silently count one, until on your tenth outbreath count downward again to one. If you find your mind wandering, or thinking of another time or place, or find yourself talking in your head instead of focusing on the breath and letting words drift away, start again from one. You’ll likely find yourself starting again from the beginning a lot, but don’t worry! This is all part of the exercise. In zen meditation, even if you have to draw yourself back to the present moment and pay attention to your breath again 100 times, meaning your mind wandered a ton, the breathing exercise has still done it’s job. It does get easier with time, but anxiety during sitting is absolutely normal and entering fully into whatever you’re feeling at the moment is part of the process. Mindfulness meditation isn’t about escape but about entering into the moment fully.
Meditation has been important in my development as a web designer, digital marketer and human being. No matter the anxiety, meditation tends to center me and help me focus on the task at hand. I hope that I’m able to share it with a couple of you, and that possibly it helps. Alternatively if you are feeling burn out, here’s another post that can help you push through. Share this post if you feel like it would be useful to your friends and followers, and thank you for supporting my website as I share high-quality content related to web design and living life to the fullest.