Inspiration: Where does it come from?
We’ve all had moments of feeling inspired. Some of us feel it when travelling to new lands, others in creating a beautiful meal or seeing a masterful piece of art. It can be the “aha!” moment of solving a tough problem, or finally “getting” an arm balance we’ve found challenging for a long time. The majesty of the mountains the clarity of the lake may take our breath away. We may meet someone who shares a story of overcoming great hardship who awakens a heartfelt emotion within ourselves. At one time or another, we’ve all experienced this joie de vivre, this essence of feeling awake, alive and motivated.
Yet it is natural in our lives to have both moments of inspiration and struggle. At times we feel lit up, and other times we’re banging our heads against a wall. One of the areas I see this in my own life is in my profession of teaching yoga. Some people think that being a yoga teacher means living a life that is always joyful and easy. However, I can attest that this is not always the case. There are times when it takes everything in me to get up in front of a room and I stumble over my words. At other times it feels effortless, words are spoken through me rather than from me and I am present, compassionate and loving. Even in my own practice, I have moments of feeling embodied and my whole being is at ease. Other times, I’m fighting against myself, easily distracted and disconnected.
What is the difference between the two situations? Why is it that sometimes we feel enlivened and in the flow, and other times, frustrated or apathetic? It doesn’t seem that inspiration can be manufactured or purchased and we certainly can’t make it happen when we want it to. In fact, the more we “try” to be inspired, the more frustrating a task can feel. So where does inspiration come from and how can we as yogis invite more of this life-giving spark of energy into our lives?
1.2 Yogas citta vritti nirodaha: Yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations and modifications of the mind.
1.3 Tada drastu svarupe vasthanam: Then the Seer abides in his/her true nature
As often the case, the answer lies in our own selves and revealed through our practices. The tools of yoga and meditation work with stilling the chatter of the mind so that the seer – you – abides in your True Nature. The sages, mystics and masters have known and shared for millennia that our True Nature is one of limitless joy, creativity and bliss. These qualities of inspiration are not something that we get from outside of us, it is what we are made up of. Our ability to create from unlimited Source potential is innate in our very being.
When we’re not connected with our own source, it can be tough to be inspired. Try being creative when the mind is cluttered with a massive to do list or bogged down by worries and anxieties. When the mind is full and busy, there is little room to feel spacious, creative, joyful and inspired. Great geniuses like Albert Einstein and Salvador Dali knew this and both had meditation practices to the access inspiration and creativity. Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it.” The nature of the mind is to re-create what it already knows. It looks for patterns based on what has kept us safe in the past in order to navigate and predict the future. This is quite stifling for new ideas to emerge and for us to feel enthused about life!
With yoga practices, we bring the thinking mind to stillness so that we can experience something more than what it is already programmed to do. In asana, we give the mind something to focus on such as breath or sensation so that it anchors itself into the present moment. Meditation is an invitation to become deeply still so we are not distracted by our thoughts that toss us around in the past and future. The past is only made up of your memories. The future contains only what your mind is able to conceive of. Through practices of presence, the waves of the mind come to stillness and we can drop below the surface and into a vast ocean that contains limitless potential, creativity and grace. Here, inspiration can feel as if a powerful impulse moves through you like an overflowing well from within.
The next time you feel uninspired, pause whatever you’re doing and take a few conscious breaths. Open your eyes to nature. Become aware of your surroundings. Let go of your thinking mind and let in the great mystery and beauty of the moment. This shifts your awareness from your limited sense of self to rediscover what is beneath it all. When we allow this to happen fully and surrender to the moment, we will let go into something much more than what we imagine ourselves to be and awaken to the endless river of grace and potential that flows within.
This article was published by Poser Magazine…check it out!