Memoirs of a Millennial Chapter 3: Mindfulness for the Anxious Millennial

I’d like to take a moment to talk about something that might sound a bit spiritually-wishy-washy to some people but is something that I legitimately has helped my own life and I think/know can help other people.

I’m going to talk about Mindfulness.

mind·ful·ness
ˈmīn(d)f(ə)lnəs/
noun
  1. 1.
    the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
    “their mindfulness of the wider cinematic tradition”
  2. 2.
    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.

Essentially, Mindfulness is about taking a fucking moment to breathe. Let’s face it. Right now we are all scared, anxious, and a little overwhelmed. And that’s OKAY! But what is even MORE okay is taking a minute to just relax. And not just a Netflix binge watching party relax, but to ACTUALLY be at ease with ourselves, our lives, and our time. That’s the hard one. I think think we all have a weird sense that we aren’t allowed to be that relaxed in our lives. Like, there’s always something we can be doing to be improving something. Why is it that when we find someone who is truly at peace with themselves we can’t help but throw a side eye and be like, “Really? There isn’t ANYTHING you could be doing right now? Bitch, please.” I also think that’s a lot of jealousy and envy. We envy those people. We wish we were that chill.

But here’s the secret that I’ve found in my ripe 23 years of over thinking. You don’t have to be that chill in order to be Mindful. You don’t have to just sit there and allow life to pass you by or you don’t have to be some, “feather in the wind.” You can still be assertive, powerful, and dominant WHILE being mindful. The mindfulness is just to help lower your blood pressure and make you even more aware at how boss you really are. 

The moment you accept that you are off your own path, that you are unhappy, that you are unfulfilled, is the moment you begin to heal and move forward. I think there’s a misconception that in order to be happy you have to force yourself to refuse certain truths in your life that you feel. Like it is shameful to admit that you are unhappy, or sad, or angry. So you suppress it and convince yourself that, “hey! it’s not that bad! It could be worse! Other people have it worse. Someone just dropped their toast. I didn’t drop my toast. ” Well, I think I’ve come to understand recently that it’s OKAY to admit to yourself that even though conceptually you know it’s ok and not the worst thing in the world if you drop your toast (RIP), you’re still bothered by the fact that you dropped your toast.

The problem lies in people who never move on or forget or take the time to miss their toast. It’s okay to be strong and tough, but it’s also okay to be emotional vulnerable because it gives you a chance to be strong and tough again. I’m not saying it’s cool to wallow in self pity or never-ever-never eat toast again ’cause that one time you were traumatized that your dropped it. I’m saying that it’s cool to feel disappointed and, “aw shucks” that you dropped your toast. But then be like, “ok cool I have more bread,” and make another slice.

It’s all about taking a second to actually acknowledge how you really feel and to be honest with yourself. Nobody else has to know. But at the very least, be honest and kind to yourself.

This goes for larger things in life as well. Like a job. A real life thing. Ok, so you have a job. You hate this job for whatever reason. You spend your time telling yourself, “I am grateful for this job, I am paid, these are the positive things about this job.” And that’s good! Being grateful is A+ life material. Optimism is hard and being grateful is too sometimes. But! You can be grateful for an opportunity and to realize it’s not the thing for you.

There’s a Taoist concept that I read in, “The Tao of Pooh” (AMAZING. Legit changed my life.) called, “The Block”. Essentially, if you are a square, there ain’t no way you can try to fit or change into a circle. You cannot change who you fundamentally are. If you feel out of place or that you don’t fit, you don’t have to try to change to fit there. This is the kind of nonsense that our 1st grade teachers taught us. I know. But as we grow up I think it’s important to realize who we actually are, and to not try to fit in some job or box that we obviously are uncomfortable in. We don’t operate well when we feel so uncomfortable. We aren’t as great as we could be.

In this job scenario, in this job you hate. It is okay to one day REALLY acknowledge the fact that you are unhappy. To actually take a second from being grateful to realize that, no, in fact, you are not happy. You are not balanced. You are not living your true potential. For the love of God, it is OKAY to be grateful for an opportunity or a job, but to realize it isn’t for you. When you realize that you are unhappy, it’s kinda incredible the release you feel because you can stop pretending and can take steps forward to finding a job you DO like. To becoming a person that you want to be. Mindfulness makes us take a second to be honest and to live in the moment enough to realize things as they are.  It is not bad that you hate your job. It is not good you hate your job. It just is. When you realize that, you can move forward! But it is up to you to move forward. Nobody else is going to do this for you.

You can transform yourself into whatever YOU want to be, because you are being true to your true nature. If you want to lose weight or pick up a habit or a skill, you are changing yourself under your own derision, and therefore are listening to your true self. You are paying attention to what makes you happy. And that is Mindful. 

 

ALIVE

I wake with the story of my life ringing in my ears, a dream barely forgotten, and a pulsating of anxious energy. It is raining again this January morning. The sun weakly smiles through clouds of intermittent thunderstorms relieving me of the damp that has settled into the soles of my feet. The rain is not lead. Yet for me it is not peace. It is a call to stillness and silence that weighs my restless mind to soil. I am anxious about the future. this endless rain does not soothe but rather ignites the desires that have rooted in me and pulls me up and forward with the knowledge that my physical body can only move so fast. It is exhausting.

I woke this morning dreaming of whales. I looked at a website and it contained such pointers as, “emotion, creativity, breath of life, compassion and solitude.” I am an emotional creature dependent on the encouragement and touch of others. solitude frightens me. yet I will not pretend that a breath of creativity has swept through my body like spring. I feel as I once did. I am listening to the style of song and the style of art that is simplistic at its base and exudes a melancholy joy and appreciation for the least expensive pleasures available. I say melancholy, but perhaps that isn’t quite right. It is a joy that is not forced, it is a realness of experience and attitude that is not dripping in excitement and money. But is has waves of a reality burdened by price tag and desperation for interaction. Desperation that clings beautifully to people.

I woke this morning with a need for air.

I woke this morning with a need to feel alive.

PULSE

Alright. Building off of the ceramics bit, here is a look of the painting I’ve been doing! I Never really considered paint until I started taking art classes in college- I took an Intro to Design class, Drawing I, and Ceramics I, by the way. (Just to solve the riddle of exactly how many I took.)

These inspiration for this collection (I can’t believe I have a collection…) came from a couple of different sources.

  1. My absolute love for color
  2. Drawing 1
  3. Meditation

I’ve gone and discussed my love for color a bunch in a bunch of different posts so I won’t spend too much time on that topic here. Basically, color is vibrant, color is emotional, color feeds into my mantra, “life is fun!”

I ended up taking a drawing class during the latter portion of college. The professor began the course deconstructing all that I had previously considered, “drawing.” I learned about the concept of the, “mark” on a page and how that translates visually. The line is the fundamental element of “marking” a page and therefore is the basis for everything else. Within this collection I decided I wanted to explore the impact of line and it’s cleanliness or un-cleanliness in direct contrast to something more abstract.

So it so happened that after this drawing class I discovered that my campus had a meditation course. Which, as you would expect, was the fluffiest, happiest class I have ever taken in my life. I loved it. You sat in a quiet, nice smelling room for 3 hours a week and learned to meditate. Over the course of this class I learned a lot of junk about myself, including that I needed to stop my over analyzing of literally everything, and to invite spontaneity and fun into my life.The final project of the course was to create something that had to do with mindfulness. It didn’t matter what. Well, I decided that my project would be an impulsive piece of painting that I did not plan AT ALL. The time it took to complete didn’t matter so long as I was in a meditative state, or at least not thinking, and went with what felt right. This was the piece that I ended up with:

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I enjoyed the process so much I decided to do more. Over the course of about a year I would create these pieces when I felt like I wanted to- not because I had to. Doing something for the simple enjoyment of doing it made the process incredibly therapeutic for me, and if I liked the final product, all the better!

I don’t have an underlying message or ethos I want to convey with this collection. I created these works on and in impulse, and that, for me, is meaning enough.

  • paint on canvas, various sizes

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