Friday, June 18, 2010
The Neurobiology of Excellence
Right before I came down with that virus last week I had picked up a couple of books at the Goodwill. One of them was Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman. I was particularly interested in the section, Flow: The Neurobiology of Excellence. For me, flow often feels like a state of grace in which I've gotten out of my own way. I'm totally focused on what I'm doing but in a relaxed joyful way. It's been a while since I experienced it while painting and I really need the occasional dose of it to keep me going. Better still, I want to develop a set of work habits that can help me access it on a regular basis. A way to enter flow is to "intentionally focus a sharp attention on the task at hand." It's a bit like meditation, once the intruding thoughts have quieted it becomes self reinforcing. Ideally, the work should be at a level of difficulty just a bit more challenging than one is used to.
So for the time being I've stopped listening to NPR talk shows while I work. I'm trying to get my mind quiet before I paint. It may be that some soft music may help. Nothing I'm doing is really new but trying to deliberately, systematically train myself is new to me. I'll let you know how it goes.
This image is the painting I'm working on, another close up of a glass jar against a blue background. Getting some of the highlights in is making it more fun to work on.