As an artistic child, I created on blind trust. I colored outside the lines, took two toys and positioned them together to form something new, wrote plays that were non-linear, and choreographed new dance steps.

Around adolescence I was taught critical thinking. The Little Nick in me desperately wanted to be the best. I believed my teachers and was rewarded. I learned techniques that sharpened my skills. I grew. 

But over time, the little instinctual voice I honored as a child was taken over by Mr. Critic. He was a sensible adult, and his voice grew with intensity, becoming opinionated and loud. Eventually he brought a chorus of voices with him. Because of this cacophony of sound, I could no longer hear or express my truth. I lost my guidepost. Until I discovered the gut brain. 

In the Tantric system, the third chakra (Manipura Chackra), is located just above the solar plexus. The yogic theory is that there is great intelligence in this area.  Personal power, self-esteem, and self-discipline all reside within this part of the body, as does your instinct. 

Western medicine is beginning to explore the concept of a second brain in the gut. Known as the enteric nervous system, there are neurons embedded in the walls of the alimentary canal, the long tube of your gut.


“The second brain contains some 100 million neurons, more than in either the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system”,  says Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. “This multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system enables us to feel the inner world of our gut and its contents.”
 
Emeran Mayer, professor of physiology, psychiatry and bio behavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, says, "The system is way too complicated to have evolved only to make sure things move out of your colon. A big part of our emotions are probably influenced by the nerves in our gut.”

When I feel butterflies in my stomach, for example, it is my nervous system’s response to psychological stress.  That is information. And once I start paying attention, by noticing the sensations and feelings, I have an understanding of myself. I can apply that to all areas of my body. That knowledge is the key to intuition. When I listen to that quiet instinctual voice within,  I can make fruitful decisions.

Does this sound overwhelming?

Start small. Ask yourself a simple question. “Do I like cantaloupe?”, or  “Is my favorite color blue?”  Where in the body do you FEEL the answer? Is there tightening, or is it at ease?  Over time, you will begin to understand the signals of the body. Then you can respond accordingly. 

Another technique is to try five minutes a day of mindfulness meditation. Sit quietly either on the floor or in a chair with your back straight. Close your eyes and follow your breath. When a thought comes up, notice it. Then allow it to pass.  Try not to form judgement or opinion about anything that you observe.  Over time, you will be able to discriminate between what is noise and what is truth.

Trust is a daily practice. When I listen to my body and the wise inner voice, it leads to art in a playful and authentic way. With the freedom to explore, I co-create with the Great Creator. 

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AuthorNick Demos

O Great Creator,

Grant me knowledge. 

Give me strength to overcome fear.

Help turn my rage into action.

Allow despair to emerge as inner peace.

Let light shine out of the darkness.

Release those who are suffering, even my enemies.

May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

 

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

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AuthorNick Demos
In Return to Love, Marianne Williamson writes, “The spiritual Journey is a relinquishment, or unlearning of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.” With the inauguration of the new president, there is great concern: instability of government, immigration, racial divisiveness, and the direction of the country. Understanding that present fear, I decided this week to ask people what scares them outside of politics.  In a very informal Facebook poll, friends were eager to express their anxieties. I received over fifty responses to my question. While some said spiders, cockroaches and snakes; the majority were worried about parenting, loneliness and death. Insects and rodents make me uncomfortable, they don’t scare me. I’m not a parent. I have a beautiful support system. Yoga has taught me not to fear death. I sought further counsel.  My friend Milena Govich and I met at a splendid coffee shop in Studio City. She has enjoyed a very successful acting career in both Broadway and Hollywood.  We discussed anxiety regarding her emerging directing career.  When I inquired what moved her past the fear of uncertainty and newness, she declared, “Passion trumps fear”.  We decided that with this current political climate perhaps “Passion overrules fear” might be a better choice. As we laughed, I realized Milena was on to something. Maybe all these years my passions have carried me past uneasiness. I thought about the brave woman and men who marched this weekend. Their passion definitely trumped fear.  With a new determination, I journeyed to my favorite Mexican vegan restaurant in West Hollywood. At Gracias Madre I convened with energy mover, dancer, pilates guru, soul sister, Katie Rayle.  She declared that some people have a fear of failure, but in our case perhaps it was success. Bam! That hit me hard. My stomach turned, and not from the fabulous empanada.   Then in a trifecta of powerful woman, I sat for a catch up tea in an eerily quiet joint with another longtime friend. Annie Funke and I shared a heartfelt discussion in which I disclosed my fears of being big. In her wise and no nonsense manner she questioned, “Who are you not to?” That brought me right back to Marianne and arguably her most famous quote. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be?” What do you fear? 

In Return to Love, Marianne Williamson writes, “The spiritual Journey is a relinquishment, or unlearning of fear and the acceptance of love back into our hearts.”

With the inauguration of the new president, there is great concern: instability of government, immigration, racial divisiveness, and the direction of the country. Understanding that present fear, I decided this week to ask people what scares them outside of politics. 

In a very informal Facebook poll, friends were eager to express their anxieties. I received over fifty responses to my question. While some said spiders, cockroaches and snakes; the majority were worried about parenting, loneliness and death. Insects and rodents make me uncomfortable, they don’t scare me. I’m not a parent. I have a beautiful support system. Yoga has taught me not to fear death. I sought further counsel. 

My friend Milena Govich and I met at a splendid coffee shop in Studio City. She has enjoyed a very successful acting career in both Broadway and Hollywood.  We discussed anxiety regarding her emerging directing career.  When I inquired what moved her past the fear of uncertainty and newness, she declared, “Passion trumps fear”.  We decided that with this current political climate perhaps “Passion overrules fear” might be a better choice. As we laughed, I realized Milena was on to something. Maybe all these years my passions have carried me past uneasiness. I thought about the brave woman and men who marched this weekend. Their passion definitely trumped fear. 

With a new determination, I journeyed to my favorite Mexican vegan restaurant in West Hollywood. At Gracias Madre I convened with energy mover, dancer, pilates guru, soul sister, Katie Rayle.  She declared that some people have a fear of failure, but in our case perhaps it was success. Bam! That hit me hard. My stomach turned, and not from the fabulous empanada.  

Then in a trifecta of powerful woman, I sat for a catch up tea in an eerily quiet joint with another longtime friend. Annie Funke and I shared a heartfelt discussion in which I disclosed my fears of being big. In her wise and no nonsense manner she questioned, “Who are you not to?”

That brought me right back to Marianne and arguably her most famous quote. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be?”

What do you fear? 

Posted
AuthorNick Demos
I have been teaching yoga for a decade, and I have a little secret. I can’t execute handstand (Ado Mukha Vrksasana) in the middle of the room. Any good yoga teacher would tell me that I am not defined by one yoga posture. I agree. However, the mat is a metaphor for life. Technically I probably can do the asana because I can easily practice it at the wall. To fully express the asana away from it, I have to tumble and potentially make a fool of myself. I have to be willing to fall. In rural Montana I was the only boy who danced ballet.  At nineteen I deserted college to move to New York City with Broadway aspirations. By twenty-nine I had voyaged to Oklahoma City to become an Artistic Director of a regional theater.  And by thirty-seven I abandoned that very steady, comfortable life to return to New York City. I have taken lots of risks. I am now forty-five; there are bigger chances to take.  I find every distraction in the world to help avoid them. I watch TV. I sip booze. I over eat. I troll Facebook. I work out. I do anything to evade telling my truth and skirt creating work. As an artist brutal honesty is required. Sometimes it’s not pretty. I want everyone to like me and therefore only present my best side. To be a brilliant creator, I have to display the ugly, boorish and unlikeable parts too. I have to confess to being stubborn and mean, scared and sometimes even depressed.  For many years I have generated art, but not great art. Mainly because I have been petrified of exhibiting my spiritual, creative warrior.  If I parade my heart creativity, I might fail and fall.  Like handstand, risk is a practice. Today I am inching away from the wall.  What is your greatest risk? How are you not being honest with yourself? 

I have been teaching yoga for a decade, and I have a little secret. I can’t execute handstand (Ado Mukha Vrksasana) in the middle of the room. Any good yoga teacher would tell me that I am not defined by one yoga posture. I agree. However, the mat is a metaphor for life. Technically I probably can do the asana because I can easily practice it at the wall. To fully express the asana away from it, I have to tumble and potentially make a fool of myself. I have to be willing to fall.

In rural Montana I was the only boy who danced ballet.  At nineteen I deserted college to move to New York City with Broadway aspirations. By twenty-nine I had voyaged to Oklahoma City to become an Artistic Director of a regional theater.  And by thirty-seven I abandoned that very steady, comfortable life to return to New York City. I have taken lots of risks. I am now forty-five; there are bigger chances to take. 

I find every distraction in the world to help avoid them. I watch TV. I sip booze. I over eat. I troll Facebook. I work out. I do anything to evade telling my truth and skirt creating work. As an artist brutal honesty is required. Sometimes it’s not pretty. I want everyone to like me and therefore only present my best side. To be a brilliant creator, I have to display the ugly, boorish and unlikeable parts too. I have to confess to being stubborn and mean, scared and sometimes even depressed. 

For many years I have generated art, but not great art. Mainly because I have been petrified of exhibiting my spiritual, creative warrior. 

If I parade my heart creativity, I might fail and fall.  Like handstand, risk is a practice. Today I am inching away from the wall. 

What is your greatest risk? How are you not being honest with yourself? 

Posted
AuthorNick Demos
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