Meditation has become an important part of my design process. What started as something new I was trying two years ago has now become ingrained in my daily routine.
This habit is important in my creative process because it allows me to take a step back and be present. It helps me connect to myself, to listen internally and engage with my instincts. It helps me think more clearly about the people and the problem I am designing for, and by taking a step back I can pick out whatever piece of design theory, pattern or principle that might fit that need.
When an idea comes to me, focusing internally helps me determine whether it feels right based on whatever stimulus is in-front of me. For example, I could be in front of a wall of post-it notes containing user feedback from a usability lab I've just conducted. Because I meditate, it helps me to feel present when I could very well feel overwhelmed by this information. By focusing on my breathe, it helps me think more objectively which helps me to pick out themes and see patterns in data. I would then present these findings as insights about the product I'm testing to the rest of the team.
Meditation also helps me be a better team player. Design involves lots of critique and feedback, and so it's important to be objective about whatever you are designing. Designs are constantly changing and being iterated so it is important to not get too emotionally invested in any one solution. Since I have been meditating I've noticed I've been able to accept this critique much easier and not get caught up in my own emotions. It may have taken me hours to make one idea work, only for it to be discarded. It happens, and breathing helps me accept it and move forward.
Meditation has helped me stand up for my ideas in a calmer, clearer way. As a user experience designer, I believe I have a responsibility to stand up for the user to ensure our design will meet their need. There have been occasions in the past where I have been overly adversarial if I felt a users' need was not being considered by the decision makers in your team. I've never been very good with conflict, and so meditation has helped me to be much more diplomatic and fair, but still have the same strong and clear impact. Design is all about being a good communicator and facilitator, and mediation has certainly helped me stay calm and say what needs to be said.