What’s in your Head?
I am always in my head. Thinking about what happened in the past or worrying about the future. Not sure if you do the same, but I realize that in today’s society there are so many people who are just like me, constantly in their head. What does “in your head” really mean. Well it means always thinking about something that has happened or about to happen. It means constantly thinking about something that has nothing to do with what is going on in front of you. It means not being present in the current moment. I can give you a perfect example. My kids ask me to play a game with them and I sit down to play, I am thinking about what I shouldn’t have said to my coworker at lunch that day instead of being right in the moment playing the game with my two little ones. The thing is, my kids notice it too. They say, “Dad, you are not paying attention”. Yes I’m moving my pieces across the board in the game, but I am not present with them. I am not laughing at the jokes they are making with each other while playing the game, I’m not listening to sound of the clicks and clacks as we drop another checker down the chamber of connect four. I am totally in my head thinking about things that have nothing to do with the present moment.
Why do we need to be in the moment and what does painting have to do with being in the moment? Well, you see, being in the moment means living in the here and now. It’s when you are participating in the activity at hand and not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. It’s when you are listening, engaging, and interacting with the things around you using your five senses. When we are not in the moment and not present to what’s going on in that moment we are constantly in a state of unconsciousness. When we are constantly in our head we are bound with emotions and feelings related to things that we are thinking that are not happening in the present moment. Image thinking about being scared of snake for twenty or thirty minutes and there’s no snake nowhere in front of you. Your kids are in front of you playing, your candles are burning, and the neighbor is hammering away on his new deck, but you don’t notice or hear any of because you are thinking about a snake and what it could possible do to you. But in reality, there’s no snake only the sounds of your kids laughing, the scent of you new candle, and your neighbor pounding on the deck. You are missing so much right in front of you because you are in another space inside your head that doesn’t really exist. It seems real in your head, but it’ not really real. Now lets swap snake for bills or health, or spouse, or that conversation you had with your mother in-law. Get my drift? I am totally guilty of this myself, always in my head but not present and living in the moment right in front of me.
How Painting Helps
After being in my head most of the day, I notice that when I paint later on that night I feel my mind shift from one reality to another. From the reality created in my head, to the reality of what’s in front of me at that particular moment. As I squeeze out the paint and grab my brush I feel the wooden handle of the brush and smell the paint from the tube. As I move further along into the painting and start lathering my layers of paint onto my surface I feel calmer and more present. The worrying about the credit card bill becomes which blue looks better with my ultramarine blue. The noise in my head fades and sounds of my surrounding gets louder. I begin hearing my neighbor taking out the trash for pickup the next day, my kids snoring from their bedrooms, and it all sounds good. It’ is what going on right now and at the moment. No anxiety of what I should do tomorrow or no regrets of yesterday. Just sounds of my palette knife scraping my wood painting. Oh, you know how I love that sound! The whole entire painting experience becomes the real experience and the thoughts that preoccupied my head become a faded memory.
The benefits of being present is that you are more aware and alert to yourself and the world around you and not living so stuck in your head missing out on all the beautiful moments right in front of you. It’s like watching tv for hours and totally zoning out of the world around you. Painting helps you be in the here and now because it requires you to use all of your senses. You have to use your hands, you have to see what colors you are mixing, and you have to think about what you are doing in a way that requires you to be cognitive of what looks pleasing to the viewing eye.
By no means have a I mastered being present all the time. My kids can attest to this, however as an artist I’ve noticed that painting has brought more awareness to my surroundings when I paint. As an artist I would encourage you to try to live more in the present because life is beautiful even with all it’s quirks and nuances. I’ve found that painting is one way to practice being in the moment.