Garbage collecting your life

; Date: Fri Apr 14 2006

Tags: OpenJDK

I was talking with some colleagues the other day, and between discussing the technical issues we were meeting about we also talked about activities we do in our "spare time". One of them described these activities as "garbage collection". Wow, what a concept.

Here's a few thoughts on harmonizing (or garbage collecting) ones life I've gleaned from 13 years studying various spiritual practices. BTW, I didn't mention this at the meeting, but spiritual healing practices are how I garbage collect my life.

First, I want to ask you to consider ... what happens inside yourself? Say you're in a meeting, you're expected to be johnny on the spot with great ideas, work collaboratively with partners, etc, but what's really going on? Do you have inner doubts/worries/fears? Does someone you're working with remind you of the things you hated about your father/mother/brother/aunt/etc? Is there a coworker who's really abusive or you otherwise get really angry with? Is there a lot of pressure? Does your job intrude itself into your personal life? Do you see your spouse often enough? Do you even have time to find a spouse? Have you ever returned home to find your children don't recognize who you are?

Corporate life tends to ask a lot of us -- it tends to ask us to imbalance our life towards being a good employee. It tends to ask us to work long hours. Globalization means we have coworkers in distant timezones, and to have meetings with them means intruding the meeting time into our personal life. Corporate life tends to ask us to not express our emotions, and instead to stay on task.

That's the garbage that needs to be collected. Somehow.

When you get home from the job -- what do you do with this garbage? Do you dump it all on your family? Do you stuff it inside, causing distance from your family?

So... how?

The first step is to become aware that you have a problem. Until you recognize the process that's happening, its occurence is irrelevant to you. As soon as you recognize it, then you can begin to take steps towards more balance.

Unfortunately our bodies don't come with a user manual. There's no javadoc giving us the instructions on how we take care of this garbage. Fortunately there are a lot of practices out there which others have found helpful.

Meditation ... The basics of meditation are to breath, with awareness of your breathing. There are various techniques to help you, such as counting your breaths.

That may sound trivial, but the purpose is to help you be more present with what's happening right now. A common attribute of all the above garbage is it's a way of taking you away from what's happening right now. So often people are detached from the present moment. Being sharp and efficient means being present with the work you're doing. It's this garbage I'm talking about which often draws one away from being present.

Suppose you're working on a presentation, and inside your mind is an image (which you may not even know about) that anytime you speak to a group they're laughing at you? Will you be able to focus on writing a good presentation? No... part of your mind is split off to dealing with the audience laughing at you. But do you really know that's going to happen?

Meditation is a way to practice being aware and present. Just like learning to ride a bicycle, or play a piano, or learning to sky, or to climb mountains, or anything, practice makes perfect. Since corporate life tends to ask us to be sharp and on task, that requires being present. But when you're present to the moment, that means you're going to face all that garbage which you probably stuffed in a corner. Honest meditation instruction will help you with that, and eventually you'll have a lot of practice at focusing.

A likely occurrence is your mind will chatter on and on about stuff from your job. THAT is the garbage I'm talking about.

Here's a thought about the cost for this ... say you're at home, you're with your spouse, but your mind is full of the chatter about stuff from your job. How can your spouse find you when you're lost in all that job chatter? Who did your spouse marry? You, or your mind chatter? If you live the mind chatter from your job, then how can you be the person your spouse married? Do you think this might have something to do with the divorce rate in the modern world?

If, when you're with your spouse, you can be present in THAT moment .. wouldn't that make a huge difference?

Exercising ... there are a wide range of possible exercise practices. Weight lifting, running, sports, etc. However you can use exercise as yet another way to imbalance yourself. Practices like Tai'chi and Yoga are meant to help in a way similar to the meditation practice I just mentioned. Plus, Yoga is very strenuous and works all the muscles.

Both encourage the student to move with awareness of the moving. It's another way to practice being present in the moment.

Sitting in the woods, or on the beach ... Being in nature, real nature that is, helps a lot. The natural world knows a lot about garbage collection. Being in the woods is a great way to experience peace.

If you do this, make sure to really connect with the fealing of peace present in these natural places. If you go there, and don't go there, then you might as well have not gone there. That is, the purpose for going to the woods/beach/etc is to experience that place.

But if you go there, and don't experience the place, but instead can't let go of the mind chatter from your job ... you might as well have stayed at home or in the office.

Source: (

About the Author(s)

David Herron : David Herron is a writer and software engineer focusing on the wise use of technology. He is especially interested in clean energy technologies like solar power, wind power, and electric cars. David worked for nearly 30 years in Silicon Valley on software ranging from electronic mail systems, to video streaming, to the Java programming language, and has published several books on Node.js programming and electric vehicles.