Lessons from Yoga and Code: the Value of Working Slow

Slowing down has been hard for me this holiday season.

There’s something addictive about the thrill of being in a super-productive flow. The thoughts are firing like a pinball machine on speed…and they’re all landing right where you want them to. You’re in the zone, feeling accomplished and optimistic and it seems like every thought gets turned into exactly what it needs to be, almost instantly.

Especially in the age of digital work, I find it tempting to think that the translation from thought into product can be almost instantaneous. Swipe up to split-second transform your O.K. image into a pristine Instagram pro-shot. Have a brainwave, write the post, publish in minutes. Have to wait for a page to load? Ctrl+T and quickly order that thing you just remembered you wanted.

I suppose some people are more susceptible to this kind of haywire thinking and associative browsing than others. I definitely can get absolutely carried away. Which is why I try to be strict with myself.

I have found a calming respite to this rapid synapsing in two surprisingly similar parts of my day:

When I code and when I practice yoga.

They’re unlikely counterparts, perhaps. But both of these practices gently force me into a mindful quality of patience and a slowing down of time. Good things take time to build. Rushing leads to injuries. Or bugs.

In both endeavours, there’s serious value (financial, personal, spiritual, biological) in slowing down and paying close attention to every step along the way. That gentle pull of your inner calf muscle as you transition from Mountain into Tree pose. The slow but sure construction of that seemingly mundane Python object that’s going to be the inconspicuously integral foundation of a pretty fucking amazing piece of code. You can’t rush the basics. You’ve got to stay with the moment and give it all your awareness and thought and attention (hell, even love). Only then are you be able to construct greatness.

Turns out there is no shortcut to a beautiful thing.

Here’s to a year of thoughtfully nurturing code and flexible hips 💻🧘

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