Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Your perception of what you see can affect your attitude and happiness. That’s why I’m happy to have Carl Studna, a world renowned photographer, inspirational speaker and author as my guest today. He’s the author of, CLICK! Choosing Love…One Frame at a Time, is a unique combination of photography and personal growth. It features Carl’s exquisite photographs of icons from Paul McCartney to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, with short stories by himself and guest authors such as Tom Robbins, Ram Dass, and Kenny Loggins. Carl’s goal is for his work and new book to reach as many people as possible to encourage us to rest in the pure awareness of Light’s illumined path; in front of the camera, behind it and mostly, in each and every one of our lives.

On Being Self–Conscious?
by Carl Studna

The interesting thing to me about the term “self-conscious” is that when you take it apart, it simply means to be conscious of one’s self.  In a literal translation, I would define that as being aware of one’s way of thinking, speaking, acting and overall way of being. Bringing a greater sense of awareness to our self is a good thing, right?  How did this expression take on such a bad rap? I grew up with people telling me, “Don’t be so self-conscious.” I began to interpret that as meaning, “Don’t become overly aware of every action you do and every thought that you think as it will cause you to become tentative and insecure in your way of being in the world.”  It’s fascinating how a truly virtuous expression has become tainted with an interpretation of being insecure and unsure of oneself.

How can one be overly aware? No can do! Just for the record, I say, “Be self-conscious…be very self-conscious!” The greater that we bring consciousness to every area of our Selves, the wiser that we become. Since consciousness is the same as truth, “The truth shall set you free.” Perhaps it’s time for us to use more accurate words to define what we’ve been calling self-consciousness. Words like overly self-critical, overly analyzing, questioning to the degree of bringing on angst and un-surety. Perhaps it’s time to bring a greater sense of self-consciousness to these areas of our lives that are in dire need of light and truth.  I have found no greater, more effective way to integrate self-conscious awareness into my life than through a daily practice of meditation.

What is your experience with mediation?  When did you begin your practice and are you steadfast and loyal to it?  I am clear that one of the primary reasons why I felt called to jump into meditation was due to The Beatles’ influence. In 1968, the “fab four” traveled to India to spend time with the Maharishi Yogi, practicing Transcendental Meditation and deepening in their spiritual awareness. Given that I was a huge Beatles fan and trusted their choices, I felt safe in my exploration.  Learning the practice of meditation in 1973 at such a young age opened within me a door to recognize what it feels like when I’m not distracted by my constant mind chatter.

Meditation serves as a touchstone for deepening self-awareness. It serves as a reminder that you always have a tool that will assist you in traveling to that still place where clarity naturally resides. It has taught me that the mind is not my source for gaining guidance and wisdom. Therefore, while maturing into adult life and up to this present moment, I’ve always had an anchor to rest upon when my mind hasn’t been able to come up with the answers (which is most of the time!). There were many years that my meditation practice was sporadic, but for the past two decades, I’ve made it a priority to meditate daily, and it’s now become such an anchored habit that I wouldn’t consider starting the day without it.

I had the honor of spending an hour over tea with George and Olivia Harrison in 1992 when I was photographing George’s historic three-week tour of Japan. This was a scenario out of my wildest dreams as George was the primary influence in bringing The Beatles to India to anchor in Transcendental Meditation. As I sat with this beaming figure of a man, we primarily discussed the importance of maintaining a solid, daily spiritual practice. George spoke of a recent time in his life when he neglected his daily meditation practice.

During this period, he found himself reverting back to certain old habits such as smoking; habits that clearly did not support his health or his well-being. Once he resumed his daily practice, he found that his life choices were grounded in a deeper sense of self-honoring and a grander sense of wellness washed over him.  It was truly a blessing to share this poignant conversation with the very man who served as my primary influence at age seventeen as I was testing the waters of this unchartered territory. I could not have received a more powerful reminder, a more potent wake-up call than to hear it from the source influence himself! If I ever start to question whether to begin the day in stillness via meditation, I have this vivid memory to call me back to center.

Meditation serves in shifting our attention from the outer conditions of life to the inner stillness and guidance that is ever-present, residing at the core of each of our beings. As we become accustomed to listening and being directed from this still point, confusion, judgment, the need to figure things out and the appearance of separation fall by the wayside and a deeper cultivation of “Self Consciousness” is rooted in our daily experience. There is not a more powerful, portable tool in the universe that will bring you to the space of self-empowerment and self-love.

Join the Self-Love Movement! Take the 31 Days of Self-Love Commitment and get my book, How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways for free at Read my 31 Days of Self-Love Posts HERE.

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