When you set out to master something of your own choosing, it can be super effective for your brain health.
Learning any new subject can help our brain stay healthy and flexible. But when we take on a subject simply because we love it, our brain's reward centers light up so intensely it overrides the stress responses that involuntary learning—studying for a test, going to school or learning a new job duty—causes.
We learn through repetition, yet, each and every one of us possesses a unique essence. And every creation contains the essence of its creator. When you replace self-criticism and societal expectations with freedom to create, something very transformative occurs, in both your brain and your life.
When we set out to master something for the love of it, not only does our attention and focus sharpen, but our stress level decreases and typical fears—of failure or success—diminish.
All fears live in the same area of your brain and set off the same triggers. That's why brain games and neural repatterning techniques are so successful at targeting and redirecting feelings of fear, doubt, self-esteem and other negative responses to everyday situations.
When you are mastering a subject you love or that greatly holds your interest, you are taking a detour around your brain's fear centers and going straight toward reward! Loving what you do helps you stay focused. You'll become more competent in the task before you. Before you know it, you'll have mastered your area of study.
During 2001, Dr. Marcus Raichle at Washington University revealed a network of brain structures responsible for the inattentive wandering of our minds. Dr. Raichle showed that these same structures were deactivated when we engage in attention-demanding tasks. When we are inattentive, emotions tend to dominate our thoughts. So when we focus on doing something we love, we are less prone to our emotions and internal critic. We spend more time just enjoying the task at hand and building confidence.
Let's say you have a passion for studying mud wasp nest constructions. They're obscure and hard to find and, well, muddy. You won't care if the trail is wet or people think you're weird when you're driving by the nature center on a rainy day and turn right in when you see that sign for mud wasp nest exhibit.
Painting, a new language, building a house—when the subject chosen truly interests us, we go gladly toward learning it. When passion turns into healthy obsession, you know you've overridden all your brain's fear-based tactics to hold you back and gone headlong into mastering your subject.
Here is a fun meditative coloring exercise, inspired by Kabbalah University's 28 Day online course "A Journey to the Beginning of the Endless
." Use it to encourage your self-expression and let your brain's creative essence loose.
The best time to start is now! You don't have to wait for time or money or approval—if you do wait you'll never start. Just print out the mandala pattern below, get yourself some crayons or markers and color away.
Our universe, and our universal family, wants and needs you to reveal whatever creative essence exists in you; to share it and add your piece to our great big picture of oneness.