INTERVIEW: Adele Rider, Agent turned Mindfulness Coach
9 October 2019
We catch up with Adele Rider, Agent turned Mindfulness Coach. With the modern world taking it's toll on our mental health, mindfulness, based on the traditions of meditation, is all around us. Does the thought of being able to step aside, strengthen your mind and enable calm in your life sound like what you need? Then take the first step and book yourself onto our forthcoming workshop, Mindfulness for Photographers.
© Helen Roscoe-Rutter, from Find a Photographer
What is your background?
I was a photographic agent for 25 years but I began my career working in publishing in the ‘80s. Looking back I seem to have had a lot of jobs in quite a short time. They included a spell working for Filofax, that ‘80s icon, and a brief foray into fashion forecasting. But in 1988 I went to Time Out and I ended the decade as MD of Time Out’s book division.
I became a photographer’s agent by accident. It was after I left Time Out to have a baby that my career turned towards photography. My husband is a photographer and I began to work part time with his agent, Penny Tyson, at her agency Shoot, and ended up staying for 25 years. I became a partner in the business and then when Penny decided it was time to leave for the country I took over. I worked with some amazing people and helped them create some wonderful images and loved – almost – every minute.
A couple of years ago I decided I wanted to make some changes. Not least because I wanted to get more involved in mindfulness. I closed Shoot Production and my husband and I moved out of London to Broadstairs on the Kent coast. I now do some production work and organise mindfulness classes and groups. I became an accredited mindfulness teacher last year.
How did your journey into being a mindfulness coach come about?
As I said I ran an agency for 25 years. While exciting and stimulating it was also by its very nature uncertain and therefore volatile and stressful.
I believe the phrase ‘feast or famine’ best sums up the ups and downs of the photography industry. In feast mode you have too much to do and not enough time to do it, while in famine you have nothing to do and plenty of time to worry about it. So the pressures and pains of running the company took their toll, it was hard to turn off, I was always thinking about work and I often found it hard to sleep. I needed some help.
Then, this was about 10 years ago, my husband, Paul, read about an 8 week Mindfulness course which seemed to offer some answers. Mindfulness was beginning to get more attention and publicity. I was intrigued and decided to look into this more.
Very soon into my Mindful experience I discovered that here was a way of calming the busy mind. By focusing on experience in the moment mindfulness helps us to see what is going on in our lives with a fresh perspective. The key insight is that what we think and what is are two different things. Or to put it another way thoughts are just thoughts, they come and they go. They are not necessarily true even the ones that say they are. Obviously we need thoughts, the aim of mindfulness is not to clear the mind, but to change the relationship to thoughts so we can choose when to act on a thought and when to let it go.
From that point on I became more involved in mindfulness and it has become important in my life. I have attended various mindfulness retreats and courses in particular ones run by Breathworks, the Manchester based Mindfulness organisation, and last year I became a Breathworks accredited teacher.
A couple of years ago I decided to close the agency and leave London. Now I combine freelance production work with mindfulness teaching running groups and sessions both locally and beyond.
© Karan Kapoor, from Find a Photographer
What is it about modern day life that calls for the urgency of mindfulness?
It’s become a cliché because it is so obvious but modern life cries out for mindfulness. All the things that we routinely use to characterise the modern world, social media, the pace of change and the information overload seem to militate against calm and increase stressfulness. The mindfulness movement uses an acronym for this environment: VUCA world. VUCA stands for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity.
The feeling of the need to perform, to get more access, to gain even a tiny advantage over competitors has always created stress. Finding a way of strengthening our mind and the ability to deal with the complexities and rigor of our lives is a great support.
A while ago, Time magazine published an article “The Mindful Revolution,” describing Mindfulness as “the science of finding focus in a stressed-out multi-tasking culture” and described its popularity in corporate America. While many people embrace mindfulness to train their minds to improve their performance and productivity, mindfulness, at its core, is first and foremost about living in the present moment.
It is about “waking up and living in harmony with oneself and the world.”(quote from Jon Kabat Zinn an American psychologist. who created the technique of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and was responsible for introducing Mindfulness to the West).
Mindfulness also continues to gain popularity as a way of life that can be maintained outside any religion. When talking about mindfulness, practitioners are usually careful to avoid mentioning spirituality. Most of them promote a more down-to-earth approach and compare their mindfulness routine to a muscle. As with any muscle, it is crucial to exercise it and, like the rest of our body working out the brain means our attention and awareness strengthens with regular practice.
How can creatives benefit from mindfulness coaching?
First of all, everyone can benefit from mindfulness because everyone can benefit from looking at life in a less stressful way. But having said that, for creatives of any kind the benefit is not just to do with stress, being able to perform under pressure, it is also to do with thoughts and training the mind to calmly pick and choose between good and bad ones.
At worst our thinking can become obsessive and habitual, stuck in the ruts of the past, limiting our ideas and creativity. What mindfulness aims to do is make it possible for us to settle and free our minds and so to be able to discriminate between ideas, seizing the good ones, letting the rubbish float away.
It is often said that the best ideas arrive when we are not really trying, taking a shower or waiting for the bus. This is similar to the settled state of the mindful mind detached and clearly observing thoughts as they pass through.
Is mindfulness here to stay?
Yes, because it works. Mindfulness is based on the traditions of meditation that have been practised to great effect in the Far East for thousands of years so it is not really a new idea.
And it is 30 years since Jon Kabat Zinn introduced the first MBSR course in a Massachusetts hospital. Since then there has been some very serious scientific work done on the claims and practice of mindfulness with some positive and effective results.
EVENT: Mindfulness for Photographers
Monday 18 November, Cherryduck Studios, 12-18 Sampson Street, London E1W 1NA
17:00 - 20:00
AOP members £25