Before or while reading this post, play Where is my Mind, by: The Pixies
Someone recently advised me to practice mindfulness. As some one who is a self-described over analyzer, it seemed a bit like a joke.
Mindfulness? Really? I already live in my head all-the-time. I'm pretty sure that's my problem.
Apparently, Mindfulness is the opposite. I think I should have known that already.
"a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique."
The concept seems great. Perfect. That's my problem, My head is always living in the past or planning for the future. Very rarely I catch myself simply experiencing each moment as it happens, but it seems like those moments have become less and less frequent as I've grown older.
Last night, for example, I was able to stop by a couple of fantastic First Friday Shows, Quantum Leap at the Harrison Center and No Authority by the incredibly talented Benny Sanders, at Cat Head Press. First Fridays are wonderful, and I love walking through exhibits and speaking with the artists. Except, last night I felt like my body was on autopilot and my mind was wandering through a maze of thoughts.
I could feel myself inside wanting to enjoy the free wine and be connected to the conversations I was having, but I couldn't let me out of my head. It was like I was trapped by my own insecurities as an artist, bogged down by fears of the future, and simply exhausted by it all.
This morning, as I drink my coffee and watch 2 Dope Queens on HBO, I'm starting to realize how much of my life I'm not living, because I'm constantly replaying previous experiences in my head, and allowing those experiences to cause me anxiety about the future.
Its weird, I always hated it when I'd hear people say things like "I'm just trying to live in the present," because it felt so fake to me me. Like, Duh. You're living in the present. We're here right now eating chips and guac. But now I've realized how much I live outside of my actual life.
I'm a little freaked out by it, and honestly intimidated by the task of trying to stop it.
How do I step away from this habit? How can I have a conversation with someone over beers and not be thinking about the last time I had a conversation with someone over beers? Or when am I going to be able to afford to fix my wheel on my car? Or will I ever fall in love? Or I wonder if I can get the stain out of my favorite shirt? It was stupid of me to drink that coffee too quickly. Or is my artwork actually crap, because I don't get the likes on instagram that I want, and I'm always struggling to get accepted to art shows? Do the other local artists think I'm a loser and they're just trying to be nice to me? Do they even know me at all? ...
Then I snap back into the conversation, and nod along not having actually listened to a thing the other person has said.
I'm realizing that many of the videos I put in my insta-story are more for me to remember than they were for me to experience.
So now, I have before me one of two choices:
I'm ready to attempt to be less judgmental of myself and what I feel at any given time. I'm going to attempt to pour my essence into as many PRESENT moments as possible, knowing that I won't be successful all the time but hoping that I can start to rewire how I think and feel.
This should be fun (just kidding it's going to be really hard). Throughout it all. I paint.
Here goes nothing,
Angela DeCamp is an Indianapolis based artist. who enjoys the finer things in life: black coffee, carnival tickets, the sound high heels make when they clickty-clack on the sidewalk.