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Marieke van Vugt

Bringing meditation to working on the computer

One of the most important things of meditation is not the meditation practice itself, but rather bringing the mindful attitude in our daily life. I found that this is relatively easy when interacting with another person, because you can listen to the person with a mindful attitude, using the words of the others as an object of your meditation. Or you could walk, using the movement as a meditation, being aware of your surroundings. But what do you do when you, like I do, work on your computer most of the day? I spend most of my day reading, writing, e-mailing, computing things, etc. How can you bring meditation to working on the computer? How do I use the computer as the object of my meditation?

I recently started thinking about this question, because I have developed a phone app that reminds me to practice meditation for a brief moment many times during the day. When the reminder goes during the time I am working on the computer, this is what I settled on doing. First I take a brief moment to ask myself: "what am I feeling right now? What am I thinking right now?" Are there particular habitual thoughts? Am I experiencing hope, fear, anxiety? I just take an attitude of almost infinite curiosity, and this already transforms my mind.

Once I have asked myself that question and importantly, felt how I am present (or not), then I simply bring my attention to the letters on the screen, the thoughts I am trying to verbalize, or my reactions to the letters on the screen. I found that often this immediately brings a sense of calm and relaxation. Sometimes, it does not, but instead I connect with the changing nature of the words on the screen, its fleeting nature. This makes the whole experience suddenly less engrossing--it connects me to the spaciousness and kindness that is so characteristic. Now the only challenge is to keep this attitude alive. But at least the computer now provides me again with opportunities to bring meditation in my daily life.