We tend to think of self-consciousness as a bad thing, but it is not.
It is a very, very good feeling to have.
Unfortunately, we shy away from things that make us self-conscious, thus missing many an opportunity to participate in the qualiadelic experience.
In general, however, it is not things that make us self-conscious, but thoughts.
The ideas that we have, like all qualiadelia, are best thought of as part of a separate life form, a life form which finds a fertile environment in our brains.
But ideas, symbols, and whatnot, also live outside our brains.
They live in the symbolic world we have created - in the buildings, the cities, and the cultures that surround us; but they also live amongst themselves, reproducing and evolving with no help from us.
Sometimes these ideas that live outside our brains show up in our consciousness, as if from out of nowhere.
Something we never thought of before occurs to us, and it makes us self-conscious.
When a symbol with qualiadelic power strikes us, it may be as alien to us as a UFO (and it may come from just as far away).
It may come from some different dimension.
Ideas pop in and out of our reality like sub-atomic particles, and if we choose to develop it, we can have an incredible amount of sensitivity to their appearance.
Most often, of course, the qualiadelia that moves us comes from right around us.
We can regain the proper, healthy idea of self-consciousness if we think of it as a trigger that alerts us when the moment is of special interest to us.
We must always be on the alert for such qualiadelic moments, and we know them when some symbol or idea, some gesture or insight has a physical effect upon us.
The main thing that most talented people have in common is an awareness of this trigger, a sense for what is most important to them.
For instance, an athlete is, on a certain level, aware of balance and muscle and breathing with every step he or she takes during the day; often, by seeing the lack of it in others he becomes conscious of his own.
Similarly, a doctor may be reminded of health issues by observing others, even while she is out golfing on the links.
This healthy self-consciousness is, perhaps, most clear among people who excel in self-expression.
A musician automatically recognizes as special any moment that has to do with music.
That moment may be as brief as the sound of bird song overheard or as endless as the hours spent practicing.
Such moments always make the musician self-conscious because of his or her sensitivity and heightened interest in them.
The artist is continually trying to cultivate this awareness.
But we don't have to be artists, or highly trained professionals to excel at this.
It is well documented in the writings of anthropologists and missionaries that when new ideas began to show up in primitive cultures, they incorporated them into their rituals.
To these people, Western ideas were just so much abstract nonsense, but they played with them, and they found some of them to be qualiadelic and attractive enough to adopt.
In the 1800s, when "experts" spoke at Chautauqua all across the county, to most Americans these high-hifalutin improvements seemed mostly ridiculous.
But farmers began to put some scientific ideas into their seasonal rituals, and people's political ideas evolved, and their religious beliefs changed, too.
Even the American sense of humor progressed.
Such people were self-conscious in the healthiest way: they were sensitive enough to the sensation of new ideas to recognize them.
They were social enough and courageous enough to try out the ones they found most attractive and qualiadelic.
And they were aware enough of their habits to change.
In short, they were conscious ritualers who used the framework of ritual to change the routine.
And they were just ordinary, hard-working people.
They were not professionals, in the modern sense.
Most of them lived in small towns, where one would think they might be too self-conscious to stand out and be different.
But they weren't because they still realized that the rituals in which they participated, from rotary clubs to harvest festivals, existed to allow for change.
We have lost this knowledge.
We mistakenly believe that rituals exist to keep things the same, to maintain the status quo.
And so we become self-conscious when participating in the most common of rituals, as if we might make a mistake or seem like a fool, when in reality, as history proves, these are the movements when we can play most freely and powerfully with self-expression.
Now that new ideas literally choke the atmosphere of thought like so much metropolitan fog, it is extremely important to cultivate our healthy self-consciousness.
The best way to do this is to practice the simple act of conscious ritualing, in order to use a safe framework to try out the qualiadelic power of ideas.
Only in this way can we take back control of the meaning of our lives.
Change the routine.