"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Nitric Oxide

If you’ve stood over a print table in your studio, or sat on the couch stitching, you’re familiar with the flush of pleasure that accompanies a creative act. Making is good. And making is broad – encompassing all kinds of activities. Yesterday I roasted vegetables straight from the Farmers’ Market, and broiled peaches with brown sugar and cayenne. A dollop of vanilla yogurt and Yowza! It was as rewarding to be in the kitchen as it is to be in the studio.

And guess what? The creative acts firing up your hands and unleashing your imagination are actually having a positive effect on your physical body. Chemically. No kidding.

I’ve been listening, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, to Christiane Northrup, in a presentation called Inside-Out Wellness. Dr. Northrup is famous for her research into women’s body and mind issues. It’s no surprise that she’s writing about menopause now, because that’s the stage of Life she is experiencing herself. But what she has to say is relevant to any woman at any age, and what she has to say about nitric oxide is relevant to everyone, male or female.

Nitric oxide is produced in the body naturally, and released in abundance in our nervous system as well as all of our organs when we engage in sensual and sexual pleasures. Don’t confuse nitric oxide with nitrous oxide – that’s laughing gas, and while this new research might make you happy, it’s nothing to laugh at.

Doris Ogden, Ph.D. works with Dr. Northrup, and wrote, “ Her latest book offers astounding new information about nitric oxide, the Wow! molecule that continually resets our ability to connect body, mind, heart, and spirit. To activate this, we don’t need a pill or a patch, but we do need to care for ourselves. Dr. Northrup prescribes plenty of sleep, exercise, life-giving foods, letting go of resentment, and opening up to affirmation and love.”

And based on what she’s written, an hour you spend knitting or gardening, or painting or indulging yourself in making – in whatever form pleases you – is raising the level of nitric oxide in your body. It’s akin to the runner’s high we’ve heard so much about. The activity itself contributes to well being in a way that can be documented.

It’s a struggle to find balance in our lives. We take on too many projects, we care for the people around us, Life throws curveballs we haven’t anticipated. In the course of care taking and plain old living we often lose track of ourselves. Listening to Dr. Northrup’s inspiring encouragement to make and do the things that bring pleasure – for the sake of good health - reminded me of this Wiccan passage, which is relevant no matter what your spiritual path:

“All of our activities should be influenced by the pleasure,
not the pain, principle. We have not come into the world to suffer,
or to inflict suffering.
Every day do something that is good only for you. Selfish?
No. Self possessed.
Balance it out by doing something equally good
for the benefit of all...
This will depend on your opportunities.
Only you will know what you can do.
If you are an artist use your power to be original-
to try to heal the wounds you see around you.
Everything we do needs passion to be done well.
Passion is precious. It indicates good mental health.
Use it as an important energy source all day.”

Take care of yourself. Indulge in a bit of creative making today.


  1. Oh, Jane! That is a lovely post that I will forward to my dear daughter who is a working mom, always busy with job, housework, husband and my dear grand-daughters. I understand because I was there once. And even if she can't do anything specific and creative, just a few minutes a day for her, plus reading the Wiccan text, would nourish her. Thank you, thank you!

  2. Yes! Thank you; I am forwarding this to my niece, an astoundingly radiant & creative being, who was caught in thought-forms yesterday, asking "but is it selfish if I...?"
    I assured her that is was not selfish, but self-nurturance.
    This quote is perfect for this time for her.
    I am offline to make now!!! :-)

  3. Great post Jane, now I can tell people that I love working in the studio because it produces nitric oxide! I also love the list of songs for hula hooping, when I visit my 5 yr old granddaughter I take along my hula hoop so we can do it together.