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.