Being of Two Minds

We are spiritual beings in physical form. We have an inner, spiritual world of heart, soul, feelings, and intuition—and an outer, physical world in which we need to survive. Our brain has two hemispheres. The right, which I refer to as the intuitive mind, has the qualities and capabilities of perceiving the spiritual world and things of a more inward nature, while the left, or rational, mind is geared to perceive and understand the physical world and ensure our survival in it.

In her seminal book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, the artist and educator Dr. Betty Edwards describes the roles each hemisphere plays in our creative process, and explains how and why the right hemisphere is uniquely suited to making art, while the left one isn’t.

In our modern society, we have placed great importance on developing the rational mind. Our physical survival is, after all, very important. Yet sometimes we want to feel feelings, speak from our heart, make art, play just for the fun of it—and find it very difficult to do these things.

The rational mind loves “doing,” and likes feeling “worthwhile” by doing things right, best, and fastest. It is uncomfortable being still, quiet. The fast track—going faster and faster, being driven to succeed, succeeding only to find that one feels empty and is left wondering what it was all about—is only one perfect, if sad, example of what happens when our rational mind runs amok.

The intuitive mind, on the other hand, knows the worth of “being.” It is very comfortable with stillness, accepting of things as they are—including ourselves! It is our intuitive mind we open to when we meditate, daydream, find ourselves in a creative reverie, or get lost in doing something we enjoy so much we “lose all track of time.” Being happy with things just as they are, and happy with ourselves just as we are, are perceptions of the intuitive mind.

Because our rational mind perceives the physical world as being the “real,” hence more important, one, it tends to dismiss or devalue our spiritual world, which can’t be seen, touched, or measured, yet is just as real and perhaps even more important.

We literally are “of two minds,” and things begin to work ever so much better when our rational and intuitive selves are in concert. Then we feel ourselves supported from within rather than picked apart, and enjoy experiencing ourselves as whole human beings—and that includes our artist within!

Find out about upcoming programs with Ann K. Lindsay at Kripalu.

Excerpted with permission from Watercolor: A New Beginning: A Holistic Approach to Painting, by Ann K. Lindsay.

Ann K. Lindsay is an award-winning artist and author of Watercolor: A New Beginning. She has been teaching groundbreaking workshops for artists of all levels since 1989.

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