[dms-discuss] THIS TUESDAY: Mindfulness and Computing workshop

Emily Schleiner cordial.emily at gmail.com
Thu Sep 28 10:30:16 PDT 2017

Dear Davis Makerspace community,

I hope all is well with you.

Here's more information about the workshop I'd mentioned to you a while
back. The workshop seems like a potentially helpful resource for people in
many fields where they use their expertise to creatively work through
puzzles. Please let me know if you or anyone else has questions.

I'm looking forward to seeing everyone this coming Tue, (October 2nd, 7pm)
at Davis Makerspace.



Emily Schleiner and Rez Khan have created a 6 night workshop to address
issues that create barriers to entry for budding programmers and address
challenges that long-time programmers and computer users face. This
workshop will take place one night per week from the beginning of October
through mid-November of 2017. Each workshop session starts with a 15 minute
lecture. Schleiner and Khan then will walk people through a meditation for
another 15 minutes. They follow this up with a programming or other
technical activity wherein students can practice putting some mindfulness
skills/tools into practice.

Schleiner and Khan have created this series in an attempt to bring
mindfulness to an arena where it can profoundly help people work through
difficulties that are intrinsic to the programming profession. After all,
they say "Programming or other computing work can be fantastically
interesting and rewarding. However, at the same time it can be daunting,
stressful, and lonely. Senior engineers at Google and other top tech
companies have recognized these difficulties and, in response, built
mindfulness programs to help remedy stress and other ills that challenge
their employees. Secular mindful practices like these are based on
scientifically tested methods and have been used in stress clinics for over
thirty years. In the context of programming or other computing work, these
practices can transform difficult situations into joyful, creative
opportunities and increase mental and emotional plasticity."

The following contains a schedule of workshops and a short descriptions.
For more details, browse the Davis Makerspace calendar:
http://www.davismakerspace. org/event <http://www.davismakerspace.org/event>

   - Tue 7pm Oct 3rd: Introduction to mindfulness (Beginner) On this first
   night of the workshop, we will address preconceptions about mindfulness and
   talk about what mindfulness is like for different people. We will also talk
   about meditation, techniques for navigating difficult feelings, posture,
   and breath.

   - Tue 7pm Oct 10th: Encountering Computers With a Fresh Perspective
   On this second night of the workshop, we will address technology and
   programmer culture, techniques for staying calm and asking specific
   questions, ways to see failure is opportunity, techniques for coping with
   frustration, techniques for accepting emotional dips and peak throughout a
   development process, and cultivating kindness towards the self.

   - Tue 7pm: Oct 17th: Living Bravely with Uncertainty (Intermediate) On
   this 3rd night of the workshop, we will talk about how to navigate feelings
   that arise from perceiving a project to be overwhelming. By acknowledging
   fears at the outset of a technical project we might later be able to see
   that living in a world of uncertainty can be a potentially a fruitful state
   of mind. Uncertainty can unleash all kinds of feelings, but just on the
   other side of those difficult feelings can be a fountain of potential
   strategies and solutions. Learn to remap anxiety by understanding the human
   fight, flight, or freeze impulse and to cultivate compassion for the self
   when you need it the most.

   - Tue 7pm Oct 24th: Competition and Interdependence (Intermediate) On
   this 4th night of the workshop, we will talk about the nature of
   competition and inter-dependance in the context of programming and other
   computer-focused work. Competition is often an issue because from a young
   age people learn to compete with each other, and to coach themselves
   through challenges with and ego-boost. Ego-boosting can work in the short
   run but problems do crop up eventually. This session will focus on how we
   can calm our over-active survival instinct and work together mindfully.

   - Tue 7pm Nov 7th: Physical Awareness and Care (Advanced) On this 5th
   night of the workshop, we will talk about physical awareness during lengthy
   computing sessions. After hours of hyper-focus at our computers, many of us
   experience physical tension and muscle stress. This kind of physical stress
   can dim the fun of programming, put us in a state of on-going low level
   anxiety, even make us doubt whether we have the physical stamina for a
   career in programming or computer science. In this session we will go over
   work habits that include taking breaks, how we can stay aware of our
   physical response to certain kinds of stress, and practice a type of
   meditation called a 'body scan' meditation.

   - Tue 7pm Nov 14th: Vision and Big Picture (Advanced) On this 6th night
   of the workshop, we will talk about how to zoom between the big picture and
   the small minutiae of everyday work. In order to brainstorm solutions and
   keep moving forward on projects that take place over lengthy periods of
   time, we are often creatively, technically, and motivationally challenged.
   How can we get into and remain in a state of 'flow'? Techniques like
   meditation, writing exercises, new environments, project management
   systems, recruiting supporters, friends, and experts, can all be ways of
   working that take us to the next level of enjoyment, sophistication, and
   gratification in our projects. What amazing things are we capable of when
   we incorporate the small picture into the big picture ...mindfully?

They further explain: "You don't need to have a specific level of computer
literacy to attend, however some beginner folks may choose not to
participate in the Intermediate or Advanced practice time if they feel it
is detrimental to their growth. You may skip some sessions and attend
others. However, we recommend attending all the sessions to get the most
benefit. (This is the kind of skill set that builds from the ground up.) "

This workshop series is geared for people who would like to overcome
problems that arise when they work on computers for long periods, improve
their quality of life, and ultimately connect the creative sides of their
personality with the technical and analytical sides. This series may even
help people grow to a new level of skill and enjoyment in their careers.

This workshop is led by:

Emily Schleiner <http://cordial-emily.com/>:
a Davis, CA-based artist, web developer, and thinker with a Masters in
Performance and Interactive Media Arts at Brooklyn College, CUNY. She works
for Parallel Design <https://paralleldesign.net/>.
Rez Kha <http://themindfulseed.com/>n:
a physicist with a PhD from The University of Texas at Austin who has
studied the brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging, and leads
the group ‘Austin Mindfulness’.

Emily Schleiner
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