Get a Grip on Your Mind

I recently read an article called “Getting Bold” in the January/February 2014 issue of the SCBWI Bulletin.  Item number 6 suggests reading the books by Eric Maisel, a well-known creativity coach.  I’m always up for new insights, and with the deep freeze and the new year, it seemed like a good time to check out something new.  Boy am I glad I did!

Maisel uses cognitive therapy techniques to address many of the common issues facing creative people.  He mainly deals with the mind traps we set ourselves, sometimes without even knowing it.  Don’t be surprised if after reading his books, you’re racing to your studio or computer to get working.  But even if it takes some time, baby steps are the key.

Here are a couple of my favorite quotes from the book:

“My own mind is my own church.”  –Thomas Paine

I love this one.  No better place to get spiritual than inside yourself.

“Being and thought are one.”  –Jean Dubuffet

Basically, we can manifest our own reality.  It’s that simple.

One of the most important tools is learning how to STOP to START.  Hush your mind.  This will serve you in many ways.

*If you find yourself caught replaying the events of the day, try wearing a rubber band and snapping yourself with it.  This should wake you up and get you back to work or at least out of your head.

Bottom line: If you want to be exceptional, don’t think so much.  Just do the work.  Everything else will follow.

Tour of My Mindwork Art Exhibition

Greetings 🙂  Can you believe it’s the end of October already?  I hope many of you had a chance to see my recent art exhibit at the Troy Public Library.  But if you didn’t, don’t fret!  You can still take the virtual tour now.  Enjoy!  (Don’t forget to let your mind wander…)

Mindwork honors the mind as both creator and creation.

That’s all for now…  Until next time!

Out of My Mind: A Lesson in Mindfulness

The other day I came across some photographs taken on an old cell phone.  This treasure was one of them.  It’s a photo of my first brain painting, which was a gift to an artist friend.  She and I were having a discussion about “growing old” (whatever that means) and death.  I thought perhaps a meditation on illness and the body/organs through art might bring out the humor of the situation.  We often expect art to be aesthetically pleasing.  As a culture, we have a certain idea of what is beautiful, namely youth and perfection.  But what makes art beautiful and people beautiful are the imperfections.

When deciding on a title for this piece, a lot of different ideas came to mind: I’m Coming Out!, Departure, and The Final Frontier.  After I came up with the current title, Out of My Mind, I had to pause for a moment to consider its implications:  This phrase literally refers to the mental state of being “crazy.”  But what does it really mean to be crazy anyway?  It has such a negative connotation…just like disease and death…and art that is not “beautiful.”  I realized that this title was then quite fitting for this piece which honors the beauty in illness and imperfection.

Actually, the zen practice of “mindfulness” requires being in the present moment and stepping out of your thoughts.  Letting them pass by you like swimming fish.  You can notice them, but you don’t become consumed by them.  One of my favorite mantras comes from my yoga teacher.  Practice saying, “I am not a body.  I am not a mind,” as you breath in and out.  Do that a few times and see how different you feel about yourself and your current situation.  It’s guaranteed to lower your stress levels.  And if you’re an artist like me, it’s a great method to use when you notice you’re stuck in your work.  Mindfulness implies mental focus, but it is just the opposite.  Often when we think we’re stuck in our writing or art, we’re simply too close to it or overly focused on the minutia of it.

So let’s all practice stepping out of our minds.  Take my advice.  Get a little bit crazy!  Enjoy the view from the final frontier.  It’s beautiful out here 🙂

To read more about my brain paintings, click here.

Heart Mind

brain series; acrylic

I hope I can do this piece justice in my explanation.  I will first talk about how the idea came about.  I had seen an Egyptian exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art.  I remember reading about how past civilizations believed the brain was just a useless mass, so they removed it and did not retain it in a sacred jar like other organs.  The heart was believed to be where mental function took place and was left intact.  I started thinking about how we now know the brain to be the center of thought and emotion, yet we still refer to our hearts in terms of love and feelings.  What does this mean?

I decided to research the heart further.  As it turns out, the heart has many nerves running through it, not just blood vessels.  This suggests that perhaps the brain and heart are connected on a deeper level.  Perhaps they are even mirrors of each other.  Twins working independently and simultaneously.  But in the end, which is which?  Do they influence each other?

I came across another term in my research: Bodhicitta.  This is part of Buddhism.  It is a term denoting an awakening of the mind that unites compassion and wisdom (the heart and the mind).  It basically refers to the idea of enlightenment whereby you see your connection to the universe and all beings and let go of the sense of self and ego.  I especially liked the idea that a person can still follow his or her vocation as long as he or she is motivated to help others in the process.

Some other interesting words to note: “Kokoro,” is a Japanese word referring to the heart AND mind.  The Chinese word would be “xin.”  Imagine if we all used our collective “heart mind,” which is essentially one in the same!

So getting back to the painting, I wanted to convey the idea of the heart and mind connection.  I wondered what would happen if I painted a heart where the brain (or head) would be and a brain where the heart would be.  I made the heart purple with gold light reflections because the crown chakra is represented by these colors.  I made the brain green with pink arteries because the heart chakra is represented by these colors.  I decided the heart should resemble the brain and vise versa.

How will you use your “heart mind” to help the world today?