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Meet The People: Matt Meinhardt Brings Mindfulness to Every Interaction—Including Bartending

By Alyssa Shapiro

Matt Meinhardt is an artist, model, and craft bartender, and appeared in our campaign for the Yerba Mate Resurfacing Energy Facial. “What drives me within these fields and beyond is exploring and advancing them with freedom of discovery,” he says. Here, Meinhardt unpacks his surprisingly recent discovery of self-care, the importance of mindful interaction—"the thoughtfulness in your execution of whatever it is that you're doing is a reflection of how you lead your life,” he says—and discusses how his routines are changing with Covid-19. 

What do you do, what are your passions?

I make art—paintings, drawings, sculptures, things on my iPad, things of that sort. I like surfboarding and skateboarding. I also am a craft bartender and specialize in cocktails. Without getting too deep, that’s mostly how I spend my time. What drives me within these fields and beyond is exploring and advancing them with freedom of discovery.

As an artist, does your energy impact your work? What kind of headspace do you have to be in to create?  

I’m generally a pretty driven person. If I’m working on a substantial project or any painting, I’m usually full steam ahead; I’m already mentally in it. Basically, if I have grounds and plan for a solid idea, at that point I am just working hard to fulfill it. It’s work for me.

The most creative and energy-filled part for me is in the onset of ideas. While there are many ways to become inspired, the most relevant for me is the sensory deprivation of driving. Any drive longer than an hour and I will start to talk-to-text ideas into my notes app.

If you ever feel “off,” do you have any self-care rituals that help ground you?

I think this is funny because I don’t think I heard the term self-care until like three months ago. But now, being at the end of my 20s, it certainly is real, whether that’s considering a fork in the road in life choices, or a need to try to feel normal by being healthier, more present, happy, and capable. Physically as a young adult you can get away with so much; you can eat like shit, drink, do drugs, smoke, be a little out of shape, and you’ll still have a ton of energy, high spirits, and happiness, and be able to physically excel, at least to some extent. 

But down the line, one of these things will get in front of you and you’ll have to take care of it. Eventually, your vessel is going to need some routine maintenance. I still have some fun, but self-improvement has become a total “thing” for me, especially as it reflects on my art practice. That means long periods of sobriety, trying to eat healthy most times, training a couple of times a week. These are the easy ones. Mental self-improvement, that’s the hard one—trying to be a better artist, a better person, a better friend, and more present every day. All the physical stuff is the basis for the mental, but working on your thoughts and actions is the real real. I have only recently started habitual meditation.

As far as working in the studio, I just try and think simpler, and handle one thing at a time. 

In the summer I tend to wear myself out more, and nothing is more grounding than sitting on the beach staring at the sea.

How does your energy impact those around you? (And vice versa?)

I think that’s obvious no matter who you are, or who they are—a person's energy always affects those around them. Working in a bar, this is something I try to work on every day. Firstly, no matter how antisocial I am in my personal life, that means nothing when I walk behind my bar. My job is to provide a service and experience. Communication is most of it. Attitude is everything: it’s contagious.  

Bars are temples. I want to make a patron as comfortable and as happy as they can be and give them a one-of-a-kind experience every time, and of course, the perfect cocktail. Surely (if of legal drinking age) you have met shitty bartenders, but if you're lucky, you can recall a bartender that opened your eyes, cheered you up, or made your night. That is something I aspire to be and to provide. Ultimately, the thoughtfulness in your execution of whatever it is that you're doing is a reflection of how you lead your life. 

Was there a time you had to fight to stand for your own beliefs? 

I don’t think fighting solves anything. 

In your point of view, what’s the best way to understand someone else, or help them to understand you?

Don’t pass judgment. Take someone for who they are. Don’t graft expectations. Listen, I like to believe everyone can get along. But Kelly Slater once said something more realistic about dogs sniffing each other’s butts. Sometimes they like each other, sometimes they don’t, and nothing is really going to change that.

What has positive energy done in your life?

I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer in March. She was 61. We had known for only six weeks. I believe a life experience like that is poison or an overdose for the soul. You're not going to leave that experience without trauma, but with everything I’ve just talked about, and stoic thinking, I’m keeping my grip. 

How are you coping with the state of the world right now? Are you finding any practice, mindset, or action to be particularly helpful?

I had been surfing pretty habitually, up until early April when they officially closed all the beaches in Oceanside and prohibited surfing, which sucks because surfing is great for the soul. This situation, the social isolation, and quarantining in global health in crisis has put a lot into perspective for myself and I believe many others as well. It's made me take into account a lot about my life before this and what is actually important to me.

I will be spending most of my conceivable future in my art studio, taking morning walks, and skating the "slappy curb" next to my house.