The importance of inspiration
Many people misunderstand inspiration. And yet is is the lifeblood of our soul. It pertains enormously to our overall health, and that is why I address it here.
Inspiration literally means to be filled with spirit, ( in-spire) or in more mundane terms, to be filled with breath, to be alive. Without it we have no purpose in life, or even a reason to get out of bed. Some believe it comes randomly and cannot be summoned. Some believe only certain people have it. My beliefs about inspiration come from a combination of my scientific teaching, and my religious education. They dovetail very nicely.
The truth is that, in short, inspiration is not random, and anyone can have it.
From a young age I grew up in very serious schools. I also was required to take lessons of various kinds, such as ballet, piano, and riding. Survival required practice and before I really knew what it was, I had learned discipline. Some think that discipline is the opposite of inspiration, but nothing could be further from the truth. Discipline is simply the ability to structure one's activities deliberately to meet a goal. Discipline does not necessarily begin with desire. Discipline does need to begin with the knowledge that it will yield some sort of results. Simple discipline provides a form through which inspiration can act.
In Jewish thinking, this mode is called " Keva. " This means orderly routine practice. We are in this mode when we scrub the floor or when we memorize a spelling list. It is associated with ordinary daily responsibilities. In Jewish thinking, Keva is believed to be prerequisite to "Kavanah" , which is the mode of inspiration and creativity. The idea is this: that Keva, will bring Kavanah. In other words, taking care of routine responsibilities primes us for creative inspiration and ability.
There are many times in most normal people's lives when they feel they lack inspiration. Sometimes this goes on too long and they fall into a clinical depression requiring professional intervention. However in everyday circumstances, a few simple guidelines can help.
How to cultivate inspiration:
1. MEET BASIC NEEDS- Take a moment and check in with yourself. Are you comfortable ? cold ? hot ? tired, hungry, thirsty, or overtired ? Are you well ? If you discern any needs, rectify them or make a concrete plan to do so. Drink a glass of water or herb tea in any case. Keep yourself well in general and energized through the day. Do this through good Fitness, Nutrition and Mindfulness. Strongly consider a regular schedule for all of these things like meals, snacks, sleep , and workouts. Consider adding yoga and regular reading to your regimen.
2. MEET RESPONSIBILITIES- If you are OK, start by determining what needs to be done that day. Do you need to pick up kids, pay bills, work out, wash dishes or get a tire changed ? Make a list and meet the necessary responsibilities of the day including your workout. Decide how you like to make lists. Do you like a big marker board ? Sticky notes ? Sticky notes on marker board ? A small spiral notebook ? A sweet app for your iPhone ? A beautiful journal ? Maybe you need more than one. I don't recommend having a bunch, as you want them somewhat unified. Delegate appropriately if you can. Keep up on your responsibilities and do not get behind. This way you will always have the opportunity for inspiration. This way, worry about basic things will not get in the way. Use simple tasks ( cleaning, weed pulling) to let your mind relax or wander. Now you have done your due diligence, your Keva. By now you already probably feel a sense of accomplishment and have brewed some ideas for your self, your space, your work, your family or your future. But maybe not yet.
4. FILL YOURSELF UP - If you are not inspired, take some time to fill yourself up. By that, I mean go to your source of inspiration, be it nature, an art gallery, the library, various magazines, websites or a certain person. Read, talk or whatever you need to do to fill yourself up. You should have a set of sources expressly for inspiration. I used to have a paper file for this. Now I have lists in Evernote, and albums on Pinterest. I also have a big cork board over my desk, my inspiration board. If you do not have an inspiration board or equivalent, run, don't walk, to make one.
5. POUR YOURSELF OUT- You have done the work "Keva" , now let the creativity flow " Kavanah". Make a project wish list. Here you get to be expansive. Write down some wishes and dreams and try to divide it into short term and long term goals. Then edit them using SMART characteristics.
SMART goals are:
Specific: I want to learn to ballroom dance.
Measurable: I will dance competently at a ball at the end of the class.
Attainable: I have no reason I cannot attend most of the classes. I have a sitter at that time and the $40 fee.
Relevant: I have always wanted to learn to ballroom dance.
Time bound: The class takes 8 weeks, and the ball is right after that.
You can see my February 1, 2015 blog post on related topics here. You will need to scroll down to that date.
Whether it is redecorating your living room, completing the Spartan race, or getting a degree, a similar procedures are used. Now with more complex goals, there are obviously more steps and more time involved. The important thing is that you have a way to start.
I have learned that so many people do not now how to start down the road toward inspiration. Hopefully these comments and steps will help you find inspiration any time you need it.
To learn more about inspiration and purpose, and their effects on health, see: