Inspiring Impact with Trish Tutton
For this special series, Inspiring Impact, HIROC is partnering with AdvantAge Ontario to highlight the work of several of the presenters at their online education and networking event in May.
Today we’re talking with one of the keynote speakers, Trish Tutton. Trish is a yoga instructor and mindfulness expert. Trish suffered a devastating loss early in her life and it confirmed that she was on the right path with her career choice. Her mission is to create calmer and happier workplaces and employees.
The words mindful and mindfulness get tossed around a lot, but in these unusual and stressful times, Trish says makes sense to take a moment to pause and notice what we’re feeling.
Mentioned in this Episode:
- Armchair Expert podcast
- Will Ferrell
- Banff National Park
- AdvantAge Ontario
- AdvantAge Ontario Annual Convention
Narrator (Intro): Imagine you could step inside the minds of Canada's healthcare leaders, glimpse their greatest fears, strongest drivers, and what makes them tick. Welcome to Healthcare Change Makers, a podcast where we talk to leaders about the joys and challenges of driving change and working with partners to create the safest healthcare system.
Ellen Gardner: Welcome to Inspiring Impact, a special series from HIROC. I'm Ellen Gardner with Philip De Souza. We're delighted to partner with AdvantAge Ontario and highlight the work of several of the presenters at their online education and networking event in May. Today, we're talking with one of the keynote speakers, Trish Tutton. Trish is a yoga instructor and mindfulness expert. Trish suffered a devastating loss early in her life, and it confirmed that she was on the right path with her career choice. Her mission is to create calmer and happier workplaces and employees. The words mindful and mindfulness get tossed around a lot, but in these unusual and stressful times, Trish says it makes sense to take a moment to pause and notice what we're feeling. We spoke with Trish from her home in Banff, Alberta.
Ellen Gardner: Welcome, Trish. It's so great to have you on this special series we're doing with AdvantAge Ontario, so great to have you.
Trish Tutton: Thanks, Ellen. Excited to be here with you today.
Ellen Gardner: To start off, maybe you can tell us a little bit about yourself and why you've made mindfulness the focus of your personal life and in your business.
Trish Tutton: I mean, I think about my journey with mindfulness and I'm told that it began when I was just a little one. I'm told that I used to do yoga with my mom on VHS videos. My mom as a new mom kind of taking care of herself and managing her own stress and getting back into movement after having kids and just taking care of herself, that was I guess my first introduction to mindfulness. And then I remember really picking it back up in university, going to school. There were a lot of stresses. I mean, many different types of stress in my life as a university student, not only to do with school, but relationships and family stuff, and just the whole host of challenges that this life presents us with. And I remember hearing that yoga and meditation were good for that, and it also was going to counteract all the hours spent sitting in lectures and sitting at my computer.
Trish Tutton: And I think from there, I can think of times in my life when my gut has just told me to follow a path and that's what was happening. Every time I got on a yoga mat, every time I heard some of these teachings, it was just like there was something inside of me saying, "Yes." Like a full-body, "YES!" There's something about these teachings that just really resonated with me, and yeah, lots of different factors that have led me onto this path, but it's been absolutely transformative for me, and I see when I share these teachings with others, the same for them. So it's incredibly rewarding.
Ellen Gardner: At the conference, you talked about a life-changing event that happened for you, a shocking loss. Maybe you can just tell us a little bit about that, Trish, and how that event was a turning point for you.
Trish Tutton: I was studying mindfulness and these teachings at this time, this was about nine years ago, and very suddenly we lost my mom to breast cancer. And she was too young, she was just 55 years old. And I was in my mid-twenties at the time. Often people ask, have they ever had this moment that made them question everything about their lives? Because that's what that moment was for me. I realized after that loss that I had kind of had this idea, this belief. We have these beliefs that we don't even realize sometimes in our minds, and I had believed that we all are guaranteed 70, 80 years here in these bodies and on this beautiful earth.
I think losing my mom so suddenly really made me realize that I don't have control over the quantity of my life. I don't know if I'm here for one more week, three more months, 10 more years, but what we all have a massive amount of control over is the quality of our life. I realized here, I had this tool at my fingertips in mindfulness teachings to really enhance every moment of my life, every day of my life, that I could help myself manage the stresses of life, not get caught in them.
We get this one life to live and I think a lot of us are just moving through every day just dwelling on our stresses, dwelling on our challenges, missing out on so many beautiful moments. So yes, that moment of loss was really pivotal for me in realizing I think both my purpose, both following this purpose as a teacher and as a speaker, sharing these tools, and also what I really wanted to do with this one precious life I've been given.
Ellen Gardner: That's a very sad event to have to go through, especially at that young age, Trish, I'm sure. I completely understand how that changed your life. Did your mom know that you were following this certain direction in your life?
Trish Tutton: She did. She did. So I had already done several trainings at this point. She actually was my biggest cheerleader. When I first started teaching yoga, she would come to my classes every week. Like I said, I started the journey on our living room floor with her, so she was able to join me for several classes. She didn't get to see me really take this transition to doing this work full-time in that kind of capacity. I was still working a full-time kind of administrative job and then teaching as a side gig, so she didn't get to see the full transition of my life, which is, of course, sad to realize, but just knowing that that experience had such an influence on me just keeps her really close to my heart.
Ellen Gardner: Has your message of self-care changed over the past year in terms of the things that people can do when those stressors are coming at us so quickly? Have you given people a different way of dealing with it?
Trish Tutton: I don't think the message has changed so much that it has just been amplified. I think that in some ways as we've navigated this pandemic, there's this kind of belief, and I know I've had it for myself too, in the back of my mind, like this is the most stressful thing, this is the worst. And it's like, hold on a second, this isn't the first challenge that I've ever gone through in my life, and the interesting thing is it's not going to be the last.
I mean, so many of us I think are on this track of survival, like how do we just get through this without actually seeing that this is not the last difficult thing we're going to navigate in our lives. And I don't say that to be a Debbie downer, sorry to anybody out there whose name is Debbie, but this is life. And, in mindfulness teachings, they sometimes call it the 10,000 joys, the 10,000 sorrows. This is just the magical, beautiful, sad, life that we live is that we have all of these ups and downs, life ebbing and flowing, and we're in a big ebb right now. But the opportunity is not just to say, how can I survive this?
Trish Tutton: When we look kind of into the wisdom teachings of mindfulness, there is a focus on our challenges about the things that can kind of wake us up. It's like look to your challenges, these are your greatest teachers. These are the things that are going to help wake you up, just like I shared that story of losing my mom being such a pivotal moment for me and actually a moment where it didn't need to suck me in and drag me down. It was something that I could transform into something really beautiful.
I think the other piece that's been really amplified in the last year is just this reality, and this is in mindfulness teachings too, this reality of the impermanence of life. That every single thing we know, it exists for some time, it changes over time, and it will cease to exist. Change is the only constant that we know. So the change into ... from a normal world into the world of the pandemic and eventually things will change and shift in other ways. And really what we learn in mindfulness is to be present with things as they are and as they change, instead of constantly wishing for things to be different.
Ellen Gardner: I also know that I've seen over the years that stress can actually be a force for good and that we need it. Whether we like it or not, we have to learn to adapt and it can lead us into areas where we're more capable than we would probably imagined we are. Have you seen that happen?
Trish Tutton: Yeah, for sure. I mean ... Yes, stress in a certain way is ... it's motivating, right? It can create change and it can amplify our "performance" in certain things when we feel that pressure. I think that the risk really comes when we're in that chronic state of stress, which is when we don't get an opportunity to return back to our baseline level of homeostasis. And when we're in a level of chronic stress that I think a lot of us, and maybe even unknowingly right now are, we get these little opportunities to rest, but we haven't actually come right back down to our baseline. That's really what the science says is the danger in being in these elevated levels of stress.
I live in Banff National Park, Ellen, so the best way I can describe it is like if I were to run into a bear in the woods here, that quick elevated level of stress, and then hopefully I run away or I get away safely, and then I get that moment to breathe a sigh of relief. That is healthy stress, these little quick bursts. When it comes into long-term, chronic stress, that's when our bodies really start to suffer the effects, and this is where practices like mindfulness come in to give us that true experience of rest amidst a really difficult time.
Ellen Gardner: I want to ask you why is humour a great antidote to stress? And do you have a go-to person or a show that you watch where it's guaranteed it's going to always make you laugh?
Trish Tutton: Yeah. I mean, I think humour is such a great antidote because it's a release, right? Laughter is a release. It's like I don't know if you've ever noticed that laughing and crying in some ways feel the same because they let us let it all out, right? It's a feeling of an emotion, it's a letting this emotion flow through you. I definitely have a few things that I go to.
Actually, one of mine is not a show, it's not something that many people know of, but it's actually my two nieces. I have family who live in Ontario and I have two little nieces. One is going to be five this year and one is eight and they are just hysterical, and so my sister will constantly send me funny videos of them and silly pictures of them. And so that's one thing that I go to. I have a small list of things when I'm feeling kind of low, when I'm feeling down that I go to and that is a huge one.
Trish Tutton: I'm a big fan of the podcast world. I'm a big fan of the podcast Armchair Expert. It's with Dax Shepard, Kristen Bell's husband who was on Punk'd, and it's just this really enlightening podcast where they talk about human behaviour and psychology and I just find him hysterical too, so that's something I listen to on a weekly basis that makes me literally laugh out loud. I am a millennial and I came of age in the nineties, so I'm also a really big fan of Will Ferrell, that's when he was on SNL as I was growing up. So anything with him in it, like little quick videos on the internet or his movies, that's something I always go to bring some laughter into some of these heavier moments.
Ellen Gardner: If you could say one thing that people could do today, and even in this moment, as they're listening to this, what could they do to be more mindful?
Trish Tutton: Mindful, the word mindful, mindfulness, has become such a buzz word and I find people trying to integrate it in their life and they just tend to actually use the word more. I don't know if they're being more mindful, they're just like, "I'm being mindful now." So I think an actual, real way to do this is to slow down. We live in this world that just values speed and productivity and not resting and just moving at a mile a minute, and that being the vision of success.
And I think when we're racing through life, it's really hard to be present and engaged in anything, whether it's a conversation with a loved one, whether it's taking a sip of your morning tea or anything you're doing for your work, it's difficult. And I think also, this last year, there's a lot of feelings, there's a lot of emotions coming up for people, and sometimes it takes slowing down to actually notice what we're feeling.
Trish Tutton: I know this is a belief that comes up for me often, and I know a lot of my clients, we can have this feeling that rest is something that we need to earn, that everything in our life needs to be wrapped up, all the to-do list items need to be checked off, until we're able to rest. But I think the real key, I know for me, is acknowledging that there will never be a time when everything is done. That time will never come. So if we just keep pushing forward until that magical day that everything's done, which is never going to come, we'll never rest. A lot of folks, even right now, are hesitating to take vacations because they're like, "I can't go anywhere." But still this time off, this downtime is so important to refuel us.
Philip De Souza: Totally. I totally agree, and while you're talking about downtime, and I know we were introduced to you, Trish, through our friends at AdvantAge Ontario and when you spoke at their conference recently. What would you say to those in the healthcare community who may not see that, may not be as positive in the sense of thinking like when is this going to end? When can I take that rest? What would you say to them? How can they cope?
Trish Tutton: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, even many little moments of rest are going to be really supportive, and I think too, especially for people on the frontlines, the emotional piece that I spoke to before, even more so than ever for those folks, dealing with the whole range of emotions that they're experiencing. And mindfulness isn't a panacea, it's not a solution to everything. Sometimes we need to get support in other ways and speak to therapists or psychologists to unpack our feelings and what we're experiencing.
And the other thing I would just say to them is thank you. I mean, just the work that they're doing is incredible and I can't even begin to imagine what that would be like.
Philip De Souza: I love that, and thank you for highlighting the fact of seeking that support that's so difficult. Thank you for that.
Ellen Gardner: Trish, at some point, hopefully in the next few months, life is going to return to some sense of normalcy, although I don't know if we can ever go back to what it was, but what are you looking forward to and what do you plan to do going down the road?
Trish Tutton: I'm really excited, definitely, to get back in person with folks and sharing more keynotes and workshops and teaching. It just really fuels me, and I think it's been really cool to see the evolution of teaching these techniques virtually. I think they actually translate really well, but we're social beings as humans and I know that I get so much energy from being around people. So professionally, I look forward to that more, and personally, I already mentioned my two little nieces. As soon as it's safe, I am hopping on a plane and getting back to Ontario to give them some snuggles.
This last year has really brought to light again, the focus that we all need to put on our mental health. So I'm just excited to continue to share these teachings and hopefully, mental health will stay at the top of people's minds even long after we kind of come out of this and are like, "Oh yeah, remember 2020 and 2021." This can really help us to meet whatever the next challenge is with even more wisdom and even more resilience.
Ellen Gardner: Well, you've given us so many valuable ideas and thoughts on ways we can look after ourselves and each other and show gratitude just for a lot of things that we should be thankful for. So really appreciate your talking to us today.
Trish Tutton: It's been wonderful. I'm so grateful for you having me on the show.
Ellen Gardner: You've just been listening to Inspiring Impact, a special series produced by HIROC and AdvantAge Ontario. Today, our guest was Trish Tutton, a yoga instructor and mindfulness expert. Stay tuned for more episodes of Inspiring Impact.
Thank you for listening. You can hear more episodes of Healthcare Change Makers on our website HIROC.com and on your favourite podcasting apps. If you like what you hear, please rate us or post a review. Healthcare Change Makers is recorded by HIROC's Communications and Marketing team and produced by Podfly Productions. Follow us on Twitter at @hirocgroup or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you.