“I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.” ~Socrates
Scientists estimate that, on average, we have 60,000 thoughts every day. The majority of these thoughts are repetitive thoughts that we’ve had countless times before. But once in a while, a distinctive moment occurs in which an original or even exceptional thought crosses our mind. We have an idea or a stroke of insight that opens us to new possibilities and transformation.
The word inspiration comes from the Latin for “the creative breath of the divine,” and according to the Bible, inspiration is an act of grace or a blessing. When we are touched by inspiration, we feel uplifted, energized, and liberated. It is only natural that we would want to open ourselves to having more and more inspired moments in our lives, yet many of us think of inspiration as a flash of lightning that strikes only rarely . . . or as a muse that visits us on an unknowable timetable that is beyond our control. In reality, inspiration is both an act of grace and a process that we can cultivate. The Oxford Dictionary defines inspiration as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” With a little bit of effort, we can create a process that gets our ideas flowing and leads to inspired thoughts.
Here are a few suggestions to help you develop your own inspiration process:
- Cultivate awareness. Consider the last few times you felt inspired and notice any commonalities in your experiences. Were you walking in nature or doing a physical task such as washing dishes or vacuuming when an idea hit? Had you taken time to meditate or do nothing at all? Start keeping a list of what helps you feel creative and start incorporating these insights whenever you need inspiration.
- Keep a journal. You can use the creative process from Julia Cameron’s popular book The Artist's Way. Each morning as soon as you wake up, write three pages in your journal, preferably using a pen or pencil rather than a computer. You are not writing a masterpiece at this point. Just write spontaneously, putting whatever comes into your head onto the page. This is an opportunity to allow your ideas to flow freely without limitations. It’s also a kind of “brain dump” that allows you to release all the fearful, repetitive, or angst-ridden thoughts that cycle through your mind and drain your energy. This exercise can provide clarity and open up the doors for inspiration.
- Immerse yourself in inspiring environments and activities every day. Observe what inspires you and incorporate it into your day. If listening to uplifting music, being in nature, going for a jog, or playing with your dog inspires or uplifts you, make time for this activity in your day. Find what works for you and make it a part of your inspiration recipe.
- “Steal” ideas. Stealing an idea to create something new is very different from copying someone else’s original idea. It means to ponder something great or useful that already exists and make it your own by improving on it, creating a totally different application for it, or reinventing it.
- Be gentle. When original ideas come to you, treat them like fledglings that need to be nurtured and encouraged rather than rejected or dismissed. Be gentle with your ideas and give each one a fair chance to develop wings and eventually fly.
- Allow others to help. There are many inspirational books, speakers, mentors, and teachers that can encourage us to tap into our own well of creativity. Seek out opportunities for others to inspire and dazzle you with their wisdom, knowledge, know-how, expertise, and experience.
As unique beings, we get inspired in diverse ways and by different means. Therefore, it is important that we take the time to explore and create our own process that fits our individual needs and nourishes our mind, body, and spirit.
“Our moments of inspiration are not lost though we have no particular poem to show for them; for those experiences have left an indelible impression, and we are ever and anon reminded of them.” ~Henry David Thoreau
A New Source of Inspiration and Wisdom:
We are pleased to announce the launch of the Chopra Center Certifications Advisory Board. For the first time ever, Chopra Center Certifications has created an Advisory Board of experts in the fields of yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, and Vedanta.
The Advisory Board members include Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Frawley, Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, Claire Diab, Roger Gabriel, and Brent BecVar. CCU Advisory Board members will provide ongoing inspiration and support to certified instructors as well as to teachers in training. At our onsite teacher certification programs, Advisory Board members will teach special workshops in their areas of expertise so that students can benefit from their wide range of skills, knowledge, and experience. In addition, the specialists on our CCU Advisory Board will participate in monthly webinars for certified teachers and those on the Teachers Path, contribute feature articles to the CCU and Chopra Center newsletters, and provide fresh, insightful online content.
We are grateful to each of these wonderful teachers for helping us continue to elevate the knowledge and wisdom traditions we share.