Deep breath in and deep breath out.
It was a warm and humid summer evening. Twenty or so individuals gathered on the grass, wedged neatly between a farmers field and a small patch of forest. The birds were chirping. The sky was a gentle shade of light blue, brushed with moving clouds overhead. The hum of the busy road on the other side of the trees resonated to my left. The mosquitos nibbled my ankles.
The night before recording this episode I attended a live music outdoor yoga class. In part because I simply had the opportunity to do so but also as a much-needed refresher and a warm up for my brain for the forthcoming conversation.
Our guide for the evening was KIND Yoga studio owner, Ellen Ressor, long loose blonde braids falling on either shoulder, warm smile radiating from her face. As an aside, my two daughters are as Frozen obsessed as most other kids their age, so it delights them when I say that Elsa teaches my yoga class… Elsa wearing atheleisure. Like the former Queen of Arendelle herself, Ellen’s love of nature has led her to establish her yoga studio in a tranquil greenhouse space and she now teaches other soon-to-be yoga instructors through the lens of nature-based practice.
While I don’t get to yoga classes as often as I’d like, when I do, especially in this outdoor setting, they are a real treat. An opportunity to move with my breath, stretch my constricted muscles and spend a generous hour of my day focused on quieting my ever-buzzing mind. But, it’s not always easy. If I’m being honest, it’s never easy.
Practising mindfulness, trying to stay in the here and the now, is one of the most challenging things about my day. With my head in a book or in front of a computer or directed toward a myriad of other devices, my attention is often scattered and my thoughts just as equally so. Our days make up our weeks which make up our months or years in our lives. So this is a big deal. The way I choose to spend my days and the ways in which I choose to focus my attention, mindfully or not, is how I’m spending my life. Mindfulness must be top of mind.
Friend and colleague, Mark Corrigan, is a multidisciplinary technology specialist with a passion for psychology, including mindfulness. After graduating from his undergraduate degree in 2013, he went on to work for a few different companies, both large and small, in technology roles. As a side interest, he decided to pursue a night-school certificate in psychology that has been many years in the making. His passion for psychology has led him to now, where he finds himself on a new adventure, heading eastward at the end of the summer to spend two years studying for a master of science degree in psychology at Memorial University in Newfoundland. I am so excited for Mark and this next chapter of his education and career. Mark is observant and smart and a calming presence; just the kind of person I want to spend a couple of hours with, chatting about mindfulness. Specifically, episodes 067 and 068 explore the intersection of mindfulness and creativity. Mark is our guest host for this special 2-part series and he will be leading the show.
He will begin and end each of the episodes with an exercise that he will be walking me through and I encourage you to give them a try. In this first episode, Mark will be taking us through some of the foundational principles of mindfulness as a practice, attitudes of mindfulness and then more specifically how mindfulness practice can benefit various types of professionals in different parts of the economy and then more specifically on individuals whose jobs rely on creative problem solving. In the second installment of this two-part series he will then unpack mindfulness for creatives. Mark and I will go back-and-forth discussing throughout, bringing our personal experiences, thoughts and challenges to the conversation.
Mark, the floor is yours.
Key Takeaways from our Conversation:
Mindfulness has been practiced for centuries in several cultures around the world, most notably in Buddhism - it’s a very old concept
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally” (JKZ)
Core attitudes of mindfulness (JKZ; 7–9)
Non-judgement (your brain produces them)
Acceptance (notice things as they are, not pushing things away; being truly honest)
Patience (notice when the mind tries to rush)
Beginner’s mind (as if experiencing for the first time)
Trust (in our ability to find our own way)
Non-striving (opposite of our normal tendencies)
Letting go (not clinging or ruminating, just receiving things as they are)
Visualize: ——— - ——-— + ————>
Benefits of mindfulness to professionals in any industry:
Tight deadlines (instilling calm)
High workloads (present moment, avoid tendency to think of everything that needs to be done)
Frustrating or lengthy feedback from clients
Coworker interactions (non-judgement, beginner’s mind)
Physical and cognitive ergonomics (postures/stretching, technostress, interruptions)
Uncertainties as freelancers/precarious workers (trust)
Reminding yourself of self-efficacy (pause and reflect on accomplishments/update checklists frequently)
About Our Guest Host:
Mark Corrigan is an information and communications technology consultant, sessional lecturer at Ryerson University, and mindfulness enthusiast. After a decade in a variety of communications, software development, and management roles, Mark is now pursuing a career in neuroscience, with interests spanning mental health and well-being research, translational science, health technology development, and mindfulness integration. In September, he is returning to school for his MSc in experimental psychology at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
Since 2018, Mark has been developing his mindfulness practice through a variety of workshops, community organizations, and self-directed practices. He is a proponent of the mindfulness-in-education and mindfulness-in-the-workplace movements, and has facilitated introductory sessions on mindfulness theory and mindful breathing exercises for his students and colleagues. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and learn more about integrating mindfulness into school, work, and home through organizations such as RU Mindful, Mindfulness Toronto, or Mindfulness Everyday.
Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle
Episode Artwork: Canva (remixed by Diana Varma)