Almost everyone I’ve talked to lately feels like they’re drowning in a steady stream of social, political and environmental bad news. Even if you’re not directly taking a hit, you’re still affected by the confusion and fear and overwhelm that seem to permeate the air. Maybe you’re also sensitive to the wonky energy and strained emotions being stirred up. And that’s on top of whatever challenges you’re facing in your own life right now. So how can you respond to events with a clear head and heart rather than react out of fear or anger?
There are many wonderful tools to help you in these “times of dire beauty,” as Caroline Casey calls them. Tools like meditation, mindfulness, emotional release techniques, bodywork, yoga; they can all help you lower your stress levels, quiet your mind and calm your body. I use many of these tools. But there’s another strategy that’s often overlooked: inspiration.
Inspiration isn’t generally thought of as a strategy. Most people think of it as something that happens to you, that you can’t do anything to make it happen. But that’s not entirely true.
And inspiration is most often assumed to be something that only creative types - artists, writers, dancers, singers, performers - or scientists - are concerned with. They’re constantly seeking that new idea or insight to inform their work and enable them to express new possibilities and new connections.
But we’re living in a world that requires inspired thinking and inspired action. It’s great to have ways to calm ourselves and become more emotionally resilient. And by doing that, or as a "stand-alone" process, we can become inspired by opening ourselves to something of a higher order, above and beyond logic and reason, that will enable us to find new and better solutions to our problems or prevent them from happening at all. And it doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out, time consuming process. If you’re open to it, it can happen in the blink of an eye.
Synonyms like creativity, innovation, imagination, genius, originality are often used in place of the word inspiration. The funny thing is, all of us have been inspired throughout our lives to do something differently, to think about events in a new way, to take a previously unthought of action. And that’s regardless of what we do for a living, our financial status, our habits, hobbies or skills.
When you make space in your mind for an inspired idea to come in, you feel an immediate emotional spark that’s exciting, it makes you want to make it happen, that it would feel really good to do it. No matter what aspect of your life this inspired idea relates to, when you’re the recipient of even a moment of creativity or innovation (dare we call it genius?), it raises your level of energy, and makes your life feel larger. And we need inspiration to keep us from either hiding our heads in the sand when trouble appears or sleepwalking through life, numbed and dumbed down by the routine, the ordinary and the predictable.
Where in your life could you use some inspiration? In a relationship? In your work? Your finances? Your health? Your efforts to help those who are suffering?
Look at the fairy tales, mythology, folktales from indigenous cultures, astrology, the reading of oracle cards, like the Tarot. These “story” forms show us how ideas (inspiration) from the unseen worlds can affect us. In Greek mythology, for example, it was believed that in order to create anything, you had to have help from one of the nine muses (personified sources of inspiration).
We have our own personal lives in which we dream, set goals, have friends and families, and generally hope to lead lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment. And then outside our own small sphere, there’s the world at large which is experiencing destruction and division on a scale many of us have never seen before. When you feel compelled to help, how do you know what will be the most useful, the most effective?
One way is to welcome a solution that comes from a higher level. So how do you do that? There are three steps you can take to make this happen. The first step is to acknowledge that you actually do need a new solution that isn’t going to come simply from logic and rational thinking. The second step is to make space in yourself. You can do that by setting aside the time to let your mind wander - stop trying to find the answer and let the answer find you. You can’t force it to appear but you can make yourself available (and open). And the third step is to get into action with a sense of curiosity. Start with what you already know and check in with your emotions: how does it feel? What else could I do? What else wants to show up here?
Most of us just want to be doing, doing, doing and never realize that we need to stop: stop thinking, stop figuring things out and keeping our minds so preoccupied. When you can allow yourself to just be - you can be receptive to the “aha!” moment that will show you the way. This does require setting some time aside, waiting for the answer to come to you. But remember, this can happen in an instant. And it can change everything.