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.
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, 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.