A few years ago, I spent ten days at a meditation retreat. No talking, no screens, no books: just me and my mind for ten days straight. When you have so much time to yourself, you start thinking about thinking, and that’s when you start seeing the patterns of your brain. What I discovered was that my thoughts follow a set pattern over and over again. My brain is a slave to mental habits; a regular traveller on the same path (cognitive science will tell you that this pattern habituation is true for everyone).
Since my experience in meditation camp, I make an extra effort to break out of my own mental patterns and force my brain into new routes. At the CDM, people who come from various schools of thought surround me, and this has created an array of opportunities for me. The route that I have chosen to explore is the world of programming. Most of my experience (and comfort) lies in creative fields, and instructing a machine through code is a drastic change for me.
While I’ve been learning programming through a free online course, I’ve had a lot of support from my friends at the Centre for Digital Media. They’re always ready to lend a helping hand when I’m stuck with a programming problem, and willing to share their knowledge and resources. Their most important contribution though has been inspiration! The numerous hallway conversations and kitchen tête-à-têtes – that’s what keeps me going!
There are many others like me who are picking up new skills and leaving their comfort zone. In my cohort, there’s an artist (Ira) learning how to program games, a filmmaker experimenting with interactive worlds (Erick), and a marketer learning sound design (Nicholas).
It’s no surprise that so many people are motivated to learn new skills at the CDM. It’s a collaborative environment, and the enthusiasm alone is enough impetus! Project teams are always multi-skilled so as to foster learning, but the additional benefit is that it gives students an understanding of different schools of thoughts. It’s a philosophical revelation, all without going to a meditation retreat ☺
I’m also learning Spanish, but that’s a whole different blog post! For now, all I have to say is:
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