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zen laboratory - (Jul/23/2010 )

recently i've been trying to de-stress my life and adopt a more zen attitude - especially trying to not multi-task, and instead focus on the task at hand. when i manage it, i find that i get much better results. it's also helpful in dealing with not-so-supportive coworkers...

it seems like in western culture, the emphasis is on being busybusybusy...the busier you are, the more successful you must be, and science is no exception - everyone is working on multiple projects simultaneously, writing papers and grants, attending seminars, etc. i've found that when i do less, i can actually accomplish more, which seems counter-intuitive, and not easy to explain to my PI! it's less stressful in that, when i get data that don't match my expectations, i'm better able to deal with it: the data are what they are, i can't force the universe to bend to my will; all i can do is try to find the truth in what i see.

my favorite zen experience so far has been cutting tissue in the cryostat - i'm all alone in a corner of the lab, just me and my brains, able to focus on what my hands are doing and not think about the dozens of things all clamoring for my attention. is there anyone else out there who finds zen in science, and what have been your experiences?

-sera_tonin-

sera_tonin on Jul 23 2010, 12:22 PM said:

recently i've been trying to de-stress my life and adopt a more zen attitude - especially trying to not multi-task, and instead focus on the task at hand. when i manage it, i find that i get much better results. it's also helpful in dealing with not-so-supportive coworkers...

it seems like in western culture, the emphasis is on being busybusybusy...the busier you are, the more successful you must be, and science is no exception - everyone is working on multiple projects simultaneously, writing papers and grants, attending seminars, etc. i've found that when i do less, i can actually accomplish more, which seems counter-intuitive, and not easy to explain to my PI! it's less stressful in that, when i get data that don't match my expectations, i'm better able to deal with it: the data are what they are, i can't force the universe to bend to my will; all i can do is try to find the truth in what i see.

my favorite zen experience so far has been cutting tissue in the cryostat - i'm all alone in a corner of the lab, just me and my brains, able to focus on what my hands are doing and not think about the dozens of things all clamoring for my attention. is there anyone else out there who finds zen in science, and what have been your experiences?

and you meditate on a koan instead of a protocol? (without words, without silence, how can you express the truth?) <_<...welcome to Bioforum, sera_tonin....

-casandra-

I like the idea and for some types of work I think it's helpful....and also for writing papers/thesis. But in reality the labs are crowded and full of stuff and you need some new buildings or have to kick out many colleagues, if many people want to work in that way...
And to convince the PI might be even more difficult... <_<

-hobglobin-

hobglobin on Jul 23 2010, 04:44 PM said:

I like the idea and for some types of work I think it's helpful....and also for writing papers/thesis. But in reality the labs are crowded and full of stuff and you need some new buildings or have to kick out many colleagues, if many people want to work in that way...
And to convince the PI might be even more difficult... :lol:

the tissue culture room would be ideal esp if you have only one laminar flow...the whirring sounds of the fridge can be distracting sometimes but if you're alone, subculturing or splitting up your cells....you can focus on one well-known koan: "show me your original face before you were born".....it's even applicable to your cells....:)

-casandra-

My favorite moment is in the late afternoon to early night, when (almost) everybody is gone.
It's quiet and becomes the most productive part of the day. Niiiiiiice.

-Maddie-

i think when the lab is crowded is when meditation is most helpful! i get easily distracted and irritated when there's a lot going on around me, but actively changing my mindset really helps - and fortunately my PI is only in the lab briefly, a couple times a day, so as long as I continue to get data she doesn't care how i work :rolleyes:

-sera_tonin-

I get my zen by doing data entry in the atrium of our building. There's lots of plate glass and plants, which reminds me of being in a greenhouse, and the natural light is a fantastic mood-lifter. People see me hunched over a netbook and clipboards and leave me in peace. (Some smile and wave, so I must look really happy!)

Instead of a koan, I subvocalise my data as I type. I know it's a bad habit, but for some reason it gives me the right tone of mind.

-lab rat-