Featured Art: Schema I: Journey

After starting this painting, I was plagued by issues with my right (dominant) arm, which was a definite challenge. There was no way around it: if I wanted to make art, I had to come up with a different way to get paint onto the canvas.

Schema I: Journey by Elizabeth Bryan-Jacobs

Schema 1: Journey
Oil and acrylic on hand-sanded canvas
48 x 48 inches

I began exploring with the canvas on a table instead of the wall, pouring paint onto it with jars, using my left hand. Over time, I taught myself to draw and paint with my left hand – if I didn’t like an area, I either poured paint right over it, or used a hand-sander to get back to the raw canvas.

Somewhere in the middle of it all I had a profound awakening: I got out of my own way, and was having a ball!

Why? In having no clue if what I was doing was going to amount to anything, I had effectively Let Go of My Self-Conscious Self. I was spontaneous and present, and, like a child, my approach had very little thought. I was playing with colors, pouring things here, messing up there and having a good laugh when nothing seemed to work.

Anyone, including you, can dial back their Self-Conscious Self. It begins with a very simple, brain-related explanation.

For all of you who aren’t science buffs, trust me that this little bit of info can be life-altering. It’s like understanding that carbs provide energy, and protein fills you up – this knowledge may direct how you eat, which impacts how you look and feel, and so on.

The front third of your brain is called pre-frontal cortex, AKA the PFC. It is in charge of executive function meaning thinking rationally, planning, worrying and yes, being self-conscious. Obviously, our PFC serves us in infinite ways. However, in other ways, the PFC can be challenging – it may keep you up at night worrying about dinner tomorrow, what you forgot to do last week or something you said to your mother when you were 17. In early childhood (3 – 8 years) the PFC hasn’t developed enough to be “online,” meaning that small children aren’t worrying too much about what anyone else thinks, because their brain doesn’t yet have that capacity.

Conclusion? Dialing back Your Self-Conscious Self begins by dialing back your PFC. Here’s how you can start – today.

Develop a meditation or mindfulness practice: Okay, I get it – these buzzwords are part of every wellness article, and you simply don’t have the time. But these states of mind are easier to attain than you think, because any activity that puts you in the “zone” or “no thinking” state is calming to your PFC. Hiking, cooking, gardening, yoga and relaxing in nature all do the trick to some degree; the key to sustained benefits is dedicating extended periods of time to these activities or, better yet, beginning a formal practice, even if it is only ten minutes a day.

With other proven benefits like stress and anxiety reduction, pain relief, improved concentration and health, increased sense of connectedness, greater happiness and even slowing down the aging process,[4] mindfulness and meditation need to be part of every Spiritual Toolbox. In fact, I believe meditation is truly a super-power: imagine the benefits of dialing back anxiety and attachment to outcome prior to difficult conversations, work situations, and just about every human experience – meditation practice offers us the opportunity to live completely in the present moment, giving greater depth to positive experiences. Bottom line? Meditation is an act of Self-Love that provides almost instantaneous benefits.

Technology has made starting a formal meditation practice very easy, with a ton of apps that help you get into “the zone,” in just a few minutes a day. Here is a link to the latest: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps.

Deepak and Oprah have made it simple with their 21-day meditation challenge. I am also a huge fan of anything by Rick Hanson, Ph.D., bestselling author of “The Buddha’s Brain, “Resilient,” and several other wonderful books. Rick is also a fantastic meditation teacher – visit www.RickHanson.net for free, weekly practices.

For those of you who are ready to click on a link and try meditating right now for 10, 12 or 14 minutes, I’m making it easy: visit my YouTube Channel where I will be continually uploading select guided meditations of varying lengths from my favorite teachers. By gifting yourself this small amount of time, your life can truly transform.

Don’t miss next month’s newsletter, where we will explore two other additions to your Spiritual Toolbox that will also help you Dial Back Your Self-Conscious Self – at least temporarily. Meanwhile, enjoy the journey towards a clear and calm mind.


Elizabeth Bryan-Jacobs


  1. https://www.teach-through-love.com/child-brain-development.html
  2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/use-your-mind-change-your-brain/201305/is-your-brain-meditation
  3. http://creativeawakenings.net/meditation/
  4. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/19/meditation-benefits_n_5842870.html
By |2018-08-06T13:05:12-07:00August 1st, 2018|Featured Art, Posts, Spiritual Toolbox|2 Comments

About the Author:

Elizabeth Bryan-Jacobs has been a nationally recognized Earthworks Artist and Creative Behaviorist for over three decades. She specializes in awakening the creative process in individuals through proprietary practices that integrate spirit, science and nature. The result is an enduring, personalized toolbox for transforming life experience into life success, providing an abiding sense of joy along with a newfound freedom of expression that arises from living authentically. Elizabeth teaches Creative Awakenings retreats privately and nationally at exclusive venues like Canyon Ranch, the Golden Door Spa, and Ojai Valley Resort. She has also co-authored two books, bestselling "Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings," and “Soul Models: Transformative Stories of Courage and Compassion." To view more of Elizabeth’s art, visit: www.ElizabethBryanJacobs.com


  1. Deanne August 8, 2018 at 8:10 am - Reply

    This is a very encouraging and helpful article!! I love the imagery of you pouring and experimenting with paints on your canvas – and look at the gorgeous result!!

    I experienced “getting out of my own way” recently. While fishing on a small boat in Alaska, I was a bit concerned that I was starting to feel sea sick. I was consciously thinking of how to NOT get sea sick. At one point, I realized I had become completely engrossed in the beautiful, pristine landscape all around me! Every sense was awakened with the smell of fresh sea air, a gorgeous palette of clear colors, the sound of the seagulls, the feeling of the ocean swells and so much more! There were several little rafts of otters playing close by!

    I realized as I had become enamored with this beauty, I had no longer felt (or focused!) on my potential sea sickness. The natural world around me had caught my heart and I was no longer “thinking”! I didn’t have words for the dynamic that happened that day, but this article puts it into words. I can’t wait for the next opportunity to get out of my own way, get in the “no thinking zone” while hiking or enjoying nature and just “be”. Thank you for your wisdom, Elizabeth!!

  2. Elizabeth Bryan-Jacobs October 13, 2018 at 10:12 am - Reply

    Deanne, thank you so much for sharing!! Nature is our greatest medicine, and your experience is the perfect example of that. There is so much research confirming that our desire to commune with nature is part of our DNA – it’s why we are soothed so easily by it – nature definitely helps us “get out of our own way.” I am so glad that the beauty of the world was the remedy to feeling seasick!

    Thank you for loving my painting as well. Pouring paint onto canvas is sometimes much more freeing than using a brush. I especially love painting outside when the weather permits and letting nature take me even further out of my own way. I am so grateful for your beautiful words – and for you!!

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