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  • Writer's pictureVidya Shyamsundar

Shifting Mind, and its Consequence

My first week of January started with positivity and excitement, but soon after, the rest of the month turned out to be a complete drag. I had no guilt for not showing up in my studio, no regrets for not writing my daily gratitude, and no concern for not sharing or posting my work on social media. My inside voice warns me every time I get close to feeling out of control, but I choose to ignore her entirely, and shamelessly let this inconsistent behavior linger for a while. Then I get back up and start moving. Instead of changing my ways to fix my mindset, I justify with reasons and tell myself that it is completely okay. Why? The thought, “I can't make it work” gets in my way. The truth is, I don’t like putting myself in this situation at any time.

How Can I Make It All Work?

My responsibilities of being a mother, wife, daughter-in-law, homemaker, and artist are all important to me. Sometimes, I pat myself on my back with pride for pulling them together successfully, but often I find myself pointlessly running in circles, missing the main thing. It happens because I resist enjoying the beauty of present moments and let my mind be pre-occupied with thoughts from the immediate past or what’s next that I must do to strike off from my to-do list. I need to work on how I can be more mindful about my choices. I feel ashamed now and then when I ask my daughters to repeat what they conveyed to me just moments ago.

How Can I Learn To Be More Present?

While I was feeling demotivated, I was reading the book, Essentialism - The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It occurred to me that I need to consciously create “space” to think, ponder, and meditate on thoughts and ideas, which I tend to ignore and consider as a waste of time. We all have busy lives, right? Recognizing that life is about making trade-offs, I want to practice asking the questions: What is important to me today, and which problem do I want to solve right now?

The Analogy of Attributing Our Life To A Closet

Although many of us are familiar with the analogy of attributing our life to a closet somehow, I have never really spent time looking into how it applied to me. In a literal sense, I like keeping my wardrobes/closets crisp and organized, a discipline that I have been following since I started a family. A trait that I have been teaching my daughters, which they may find helpful in their lives. A habit that I value with pride and dignity. A practice that brings me peace and happiness with minimal effort. It came to my knowledge that despite my ability to make the essential decision to keep, discard, and give away, I always had created a room to stove away a pile that I never wanted to part. They were neither a good fit nor had any sentimental value, but I kept them safe because they were reminders of my past even though they smirked at me with the way I look today, given my shape and size. I finally decided to act on something during the drag and dreary phase that I was going through. I scheduled a time with my husband and my daughters to go through every closet and selectively choose the essential ones that would make us happy today. It was a considerable task consuming an excessive amount of time, but ultimately the result was well worth it. I agree with the saying by the author of the book that “we tend to overvalue things because we already own them” but never take time to identify what they mean to us.

How Can I Cultivate New Habits?

It's hard for most of us to cultivate new habits. I get fixated on the thought that "this is not going to be easy and I am not sure whether I could stick with it," setting myself up for the failure before I even try. I want to start making a conscious effort to notice behaviors that do not serve me. Identifying them would help me know what prevents me from starting or finishing a job. Our habits consist of a cue, routine, and reward (Essentialism by Greg McKeown). I want to set reminders and visual signs that act as cues that initiate me to create a consistent routine. By trial and error, I hope to identify the right routine that helps me stay almost seemingly effortless for me to implement. My reward would be bringing steadiness and peace into my personal life and studio practice. I understand that it is an ongoing process; however, recognizing and realizing the behaviors that impend consistency will be a big step. Simplicity is essential, for sure.

What Is My Approach To Bringing Simplicity Into My Art Practice?

In 2021, I set my reset button to focus on mandala art, which came with a set of beliefs and feelings that influenced my thoughts while I created my work. I began to feel cluttered with my assumptions and judgments, letting my mind scatter to find new ideas. I lacked clarity. After having a consult with my Coach, I decided to take time off briefly and create space to play, think, and define my boundaries. I am in the process of identifying the core for my new body of work by focusing on one main idea that connects with my work. Mandalas help us feel centered. I am on my journey of discovering how it helps me keep centered.

To have focus, we need to escape to focus - Greg McKeown

Eternity, Mixed Media, 2022

Vidya Shyamsundar

When all desires that surge in the heart

Are renounced, the mortal becomes immortal.

When all the knots that strangle the heart

Are loosened, the mortal becomes immortal.

This sums up the teaching of the scriptures.

- The Upanishads (Katha II.3.14-15)

Peace & Namaste!


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