Posts tagged essay
Musings on Mindfulness
IMG_4471.jpg

What if you had the power to undo every mistake you have ever made? Every misstep, each time you created a reality that you ultimately would have preferred to never exist.

When I was young, I watched this movie starring Adam Sandler called Click. I vaguely remember the plot going as follows: man has issues in life; man gets magical remote to control life and rewind situations; man realizes that he is happier without the remote.

I haven’t thought about this movie in years and its recollection only popped into my mind as I began writing this piece. What is it about erasing mistakes that captivates us so? Although I am an advocate for the “no regrets” mantra, I still find myself thinking about situations in which I could take back something hurtful I said or instances , when viewed retrospectively, present a different course of action as the optimal choice.

I have been entranced lately by the idea of a digital detox, the idea of removing myself from the disparaging interconnectedness of constant availability and performance through the internet. I love nature, I love the feeling of laying in grass outside and just feeling nothing but the caress of the sun massaging away my worries as I close my eyes. At risk of sounding like a luddite, I must admit that I am extremely weary of the physiological tolls of constant technological connection. I find myself increasingly reminiscent of the 17 years I spent without a smartphone tethering my attention to a screen. Those years were filled with walks in the park with my mom and little sister and picnics that ended in feeding the ducks at the nearby pond. My childhood was spent in light- I was constantly illuminated by the artistry of the universe and the embrace of the loved ones around me. My time spent living in Manhattan has made me hyper aware of this deep connection I must feel to the Earth and its vitality in my happiness and well being. This realization led me down a virtual rabbit hole (aka Google search) of various retreats aimed at creating exactly what I need - peace. One retreat in particular was called the Digital-Detox, and it presents just that. When one embarks on the spiritual and physical journey of the retreat, mindfulness is placed at the forefront and your emails, mentions, tweets, and all else, are not.

When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.
— Greater Good Magazine at UC Berkeley

I dove into the retreat’s website with an excitement, or perhaps desperation marked by my unhappiness in the concrete jungle. You can read the retreat’s mission below:

In an era of constant technological acceleration and innovation, an over abundance of screen time, information overload, tech-driven anxiety, social media everything, internet addiction, a constant sense of FOMO (fear of missing), selfies, and being endlessly tethered and always available,
– many have referred to us as the ultimate decelerator.

We help you slow down. We remind you to look up.

by disconnecting from our devices we reconnect with:

ourselves
each other
our communities
and the world around us

…becoming more present, authentic, compassionate and understanding.

Given the space to unplug from the noisy world, we are able to reevaluate our path, take stock in life, strengthen our relationships, and move forward with a sense of purpose and belonging.

Imagine!

IMG_4474.jpg

Naturally, I explored the remainder of the site and read more about what the retreat entails. While doing so, one facet caught my attention in particular. The Analog Art & Writing section described that component as follows:

Without the ability to “Command Z” undo, analog art gives participants the ability to create spontaneously; what we do can not be deleted or erased. We explore how writing or creating can impact your life (and your mind), and simply enjoy the nostalgia of hands-on-crafts as interesting way to bring out the child in you. Our Workshops are a fun and exciting way to make something that you can bring home to family and friends; from watercolor to print making, solar carving to sun art, or simple Modge Podge and personal friendship bracelets. Existential discussions about “undo” are sure to arise.

Consequently, my own internal discussion about “undo” arose. I began to ponder the importance of this word in my life. Did it have any? Was I inadvertently deterring my own self awareness and inner peace by being too risk adverse? I immediately thought of how long I withheld my photography from the world because, once released, such an act of sharing could not be erased. In fact, I have hidden other variations of my artistry at different stages in my life because I feared public reception, and ultimately the unpredictability of what that reception would be. It is that insidious notion of control, something we all seek in one way or another but can never attain in full. Luckily, my impulsive nature always bleeds through and I end up taking the risk because I begin exhausting myself with my own overthinking. But, most importantly, even when the outcome is not what I expect, I am happy that I have levitated my personal sense of freedom- if only incrementally.

When I hit a difficult patch a couple of months ago, my first instinct was to critically analyze my decision to move to New York City. But then I remembered how much planning, thinking, and dreaming went into this move. I thought back to my six months living and studying in Amsterdam. Sure, when I encountered trauma there it was instinctive for me to curse my decision and wish for an “undo” so I could have picked somewhere warmer, nicer, better. Yet, it is that same period of my life from which I continue to draw incredible amounts of inspiration and resilience. Even if I had studied abroad elsewhere, the great perhaps of life would still have remained so- a perhaps, an unknown terrain upon which my steps could not be erased but instead redirected. Contrary to what social media would lead us to believe, there is truly beauty in the notion of an inerasable existence. Our choices, our decisions, our actions are all the creation of a living archive, one commemorating our individual steps towards self-actualization.

IMG_4473.jpg

How many facets of our life do we hit pause on because we are scared that our control will immediately dissipate once an outcome happens that cannot be undone? How often do we hold our tongues, shift our perspectives, ignore opportunities for growth due to an inexplainable fear of a “permanent” unknown?

This fear of the unknown, this reliance on a fabricated sense of safety - one that propagates from the onslaught of delete and cancellation avenues in our virtual realties- is a hinderance.

Art pauses when creation stalls.

Charge yourself to create. Tell yourself to leap forward.

remain intentional in what you choose to manifest.

You will be surprised by how little you wish to erase.