One of the topics closest to my heart is “Mental Wellbeing for artists.”
Every time an outstanding artist dies at a young age, it shocks me deeply. How much suffering could have been spared him and his environment? What other wonderful things could such a person have brought into the world if he had taken better care of himself?
For me, the world would be a better place if more and more people could rest in their overall mental and emotional well-being. Because in my opinion, living in this well-being is the foundation for everything else.
When you access this source of wellbeing inside you, you have access to your inner genius and to a never-ending source of creative ideas. It is then that you can become a medium through which the divine spirit can flow. It is then that you take good care of yourself. It is then that you can feel the truth in the following sentences:
- I am grateful for what is right now.
- I am at peace within myself.
- I feel useful for others.
- I develop myself with ease.
- I trust in life and therefore also in myself.
- I feel connected to myself, to other people, to nature and to something greater than myself.
- I trust that the right things will come to me at the right time.
- I am happy about new impulses and can let go of old things.
- I feel my heart open and enjoy every moment.
- I also accept negative feelings – and can still act.
- I do not put pressure on myself.
There are many different ways back home
There are many ways to return to complete mental and emotional stability. The most reliable one I have found I am going to share with you in this article. It has helped me return from panic attacks and depression to emotional and mental stability.
It also helped me to reframe the story of my car accident. The scar from it is still very visible and runs from one ear across my skull to the other. So the consequences of the accident and the following operations were massive.
I was lucky in several ways at the time: first of all, I was lucky to be alive at all. And secondly, that I did not develop post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD).
On the contrary: I experienced something that psychologists call post-traumatic growth (PTG). The accident helped me to change myself and my life in a positive way. For example, I finally gave myself permission to do what I really care about. I started to take my own desires seriously and follow them.
One of the most important learning experiences from the car accident is that we are not defined by what happens to us in the outside world. Rather, we have the opportunity to choose what story we tell ourselves. I have consciously chosen to feel the accident as something that gives me and my life the opportunity for growth and enrichment.
Also, I have learned that we can connect to something that is much deeper than our everyday turbulence. It’s kind of like the ocean. ts surface can be rocked by the strongest currents – and yet the ground of the sea is quiet and calm.
“I realized that seriousness and discomfort are to mental illness as dark and damp are to fungus. On the other hand, love and light-heartedness are to mental illness as sunlight and dryness are to fungus. They assist to eradicate mental illness and promote mental health.”Sydney Banks
Chronic Mental Stress
Now let’s talk about the root of most of Mental Illness: Chronic Mental Stress.
If we stay in states of worry, guilt, resentment, and upset for a long time, we innocently create chronic mental stress.
Every time we create mental stress, three Things happen:
- Our mood goes down.
- Our level of anxiety goes up.
- Our body starts to hurt.
When we get into these states, we activate the Stress-Response-System. That’s completely fine – up to the point where this Stress-Response-System is activated for hours and hours every day.
Why is this bad for us? Because through this we create chemical disbalances in our brain and dysfunctions in our whole body. During stress, our bodies emit stress hormones like adrenalin, noradrenalin and cortisol.
If they are permanently in our system, our bodies stop healing themselves. This can lead to inflammations, a weak immune system, bad skin, high body fat, diabetes and many more diseases …
To make it short: Fear and Stress were built for short-term threats like fighting a lion – and not for low vibrating states lasting for hours every day for our whole life.
Where does Chronic mental stress come from?
It doesn’t come from our challenges in life or from the fact we everything have to die – It comes from our innocent abuse of how our own system works.
For me, the way the Scottish Mystic Sydney Banks talks about it makes the most sense. According to him, we were given 3 metaphorical Gifts: The gift of mind, the gift of consciousness and the gift of thought.
Mind is the divine energy behind life that connects everything in this universe. It is guiding everything. We can tune into this guidance when we get quiet and listen.
Consciousness describes our ability to experience our thoughts. It also allows us to become aware of our thoughts and the principle of Thought. Without consciousness, we would experience nothing, feel nothing.
Thought describes our ability to think, the power of thought, the fact that we think. Without thoughts, we would not experience anything. Without Thought, life would not take shape. Thoughts come and go – if we don’t hold on to them.
Sometimes we are not aware of such things. Then we innocently create negative thoughts about worry, guilt, resentment and upset much more attention than needed.
When we slip into these levels of awareness, the world looks very dark.
Dr. George Pransky (2017) puts it this way:
“Although we react differently to bad moods, we often experience our bad feeling states in the same way. The thoughts that create bad moods usually have some of the following characteristics:
1. our mental activity – or speed of thinking – increases.
2. our thoughts center around problems and unhappiness.
3. we feel an increased but distorted, sense of urgency. We then believe we have to do something immediately, for example, about our circumstances.
4. we feel self-doubt. We seem to be the negative focus of others’ attention.
5. our outlook on the future is pessimistic. We feel limitations and become blind to possibilities.
6. we entertain many negative thoughts, feelings, and concerns.”
But why do we sometimes have low vibrational thoughts? And what is the solution to not create Chronic Mental Stress from them? Let`s have a look at why this is important in order to boost mental wellbeing for artists.
The Solution – How to increase Mental wellbeing for artists
As I mentioned above, one solution to Chronic Mental Stress can be Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the active being in the present moment without judgement.
Dr. Bill Pettit puts it this way: “I am either in my thoughts or in my life. If it’s noontime and I haven’t laughed, I know that I take life way to seriously. The moment I know that my feelings are coming from the inside, I am mentally healthy. If the desires of your brain trouble your soul it is time to leave your thinking alone.”
For me, I find it important to understand that no external conditions are needed to leave your thoughts alone. It doesn’t take a two-hour yoga class or 1 hour of meditation every morning. Yes, engagement in the outside world can help to get out of the thought carousel and get a reference for the deep feeling that comes with it. I highly recommend this talk by Dr. Dicken Bettinger about this.
However, the bottom line is simply to not take the thoughts so seriously. And to know that they pass by like clouds.
An evil-looking cloud doesn’t frighten us any more than one that looks like a puppy. Anyone who has ever sat in an airplane knows that clouds are not solid and impervious. They cannot harm us. We don’t have to push them away, but can begin to allow them and observe them. In the process, the cloud cover can break open at any moment. And even after the strongest thunderstorm, the sky is just as blue as before and the sun just as bright.
Besides the loud, personal thoughts, there is also another layer.
Every one of my coaching clients knew this layer from their own experience, too. This layer is about the subtle impulses that always come through when we relax. For example, in the shower, when we go for a walk, when we exercise, when we meditate, when we have fulfilling sex, and so on.
In other words, whenever we are fully absorbed by the moment and the past and future are removed from our focus. It’s like returning from the turbulent surface of the sea back to the ever-quiet ground. In this stillness, we can feel the energy of life of which we are all part. It is precisely then that the solution to the problem we have been pondering for so long comes to us – as if by itself – and we suddenly know what to do.
History books are also full of this phenomenon. Archimedes, for example, did not shout “Eureka!” at his desk – but in the bathtub. Isaac Newton discovered gravity spontaneously – when he was lying under an apple tree and relaxed.
Michael Neill (2016) puts is this way:
“There is a space within you where you are already perfect, whole and complete. It is pure consciousness-the space inside of which all thoughts come and go. When you rest in the feeling of this space, the warmth of it heals your mind and body. When you operate from the infinite creative potential of this space, you produce high levels of performance and creative flow. When you sit in the openness of this space with others, you experience a level of connection and intimacy that is breathtakingly enjoyable and filled with love. And when you explore this space more deeply, you will find yourself growing closer and closer to the divine, even if you’re not sure there is such a thing and wouldn’t know how to talk about it if there was. Every problem we have in life is the result of losing our bearings and getting caught up in the content of our own thinking; the solution to every one of those problems is to find our way back home. One problem. One solution. Infinite possibilities.”
Another wonderful quote on this comes from Albert Einstein:
“I think 99 times and find nothing. I stop thinking, swim in silence, and the truth comes to me.”Albert Einstein
“Never Broken, Nothing Lacking.”
My Mentor Dr.Bill Pettit’s credo is:
“Never Broken, Nothing Lacking.”
So according to him, mental health is our natural state. It is like a huge cork that floats on the sea and goes along with everything. Sometimes it gets underwater for a short time, but then it comes back to the surface reliably and by its own power. It is its nature. In psychology, this phenomenon is called “resilience”.
Dr. Pettit attributes all mental states to holding on too tightly to loud thoughts and the attempt of controlling these loud thoughts too much. Insecurity, restlessness, panic attacks, depression, … According to him, these are all love letters from our soul that show us that we spend too much and too long drifting in loud thoughts and moving too fast.
This often upsets people who experience or have experienced such things. Then they say things like “If it were that easy, I would have tried that already, wouldn’t I?” or “No, I have this illness because of this experience – and I am helplessly at its mercy.”
I take this seriously, and I have no desire to belittle or make fun of these people. I firmly believe that each person does what seems to be the best option based on their current levels of awareness.
But even in a client who suffered from severe suicidal thoughts and depression, I could sense the health hidden underneath. And how she was innocently covering it up with her own thoughts.
Back to the view that all negative emotions are love letters from our soul. A metaphor I learned from Dr. Bill Pettit is this: Imagine putting your hand on a hot stove. What will you feel then? That’s right, a sharp pain. This pain tells you that you want to withdraw your hand immediately.
What if emotional pain had exactly the same function? What if it is simply a well-intentioned message from your system to not engage so strongly with your loud, negative thoughts? What if complete healing was always possible?What if we could fully feel that Background Sense of everything being well.
For me, answering these questions with “yes” has changed my world. As a result, my life has become fundamentally more beautiful.
Michael Neill puts it very beautifully:
“Everybody is sitting in mental wellbeing – they just don`t know it”.Michael Neill
I have already mentioned several times that it is totally okay not to see it that way. Everyone has a bad mood once in a while. That is totally natural and okay. No Big Deal! It happens to everyone once in a while.
At this point, many people ask:
“How can I control or change my loud thoughts?”
The answer: in the long run, this is not directly possible. Even though there are NLP techniques, for example, which change or weaken thoughts, these only work in the short and medium-term. However, it takes a lot of strength and concentration to do this, and yet, despite the best techniques, unpleasant thoughts can recur.
For me, true freedom came when I realised that I don’t have to control these loud thoughts at all – because they are “just” thoughts. They pass through the sky like clouds and dissipate on their own.
So when we accept that controlling our thoughts is not our job and that the thoughts in our head are not us, then everything becomes so much easier. Then thoughts of all kinds are allowed to come.
We know that they say nothing about us. That we are only the observers. Like an observer who stands at the station and watches the trains go by. This observer doesn’t have to jump on every train either. He can just let them pass – and concentrate on the silence between the trains. It is quite normal for this observer to be carried away by a train from time to time. As soon as he notices this, he can get off the train again and return to his observation post.
This also helps with accepting yourself in all your faccettes. Even the ones you did not use to like. Accepting something lets it pass through.
The more profound such insights you have had into life and the principles behind it are, the more you know with every fiber of your body that after every thunderstorm the sun shines again. You are sure that your mood will rise again as if by itself. Even if at first it seems to be only a marginal improvement, you may allow yourself to celebrate it and be grateful for it.
The higher your consciousness rises again, the more you will recognize that we are made out of divine energy and due to that we have access to a universal wisdom that is much bigger than our intellect. And that we are always safe and okay at the core. Because this inner core comes from another world -– and can therefore never be violated here.
This experience is often called a “mystical experience”. In many therapeutic approaches, it is seen as a catalyst for lasting and deep recovery, for example in Clinical Hypo-Therapy and Psycholytic Therapy. In psycholytic therapy, psychoactive substances are used as a key to open and access the spaces of the subconscious. If you are interested in altered states of consciousness, I can recommend my videos on alpha states.
If the ideas in this article speak to you, feel free to dive deeper with this material:
Michhael Neill (2016) The Space Within.
How about you? What is your experience with mental wellbeing for artists?