Former resident, Freddie Jenkins felt inspired to write his blog on ‘How to Live an Inspired Life’ during his stay here at Anahata. He’s on a retreat from our retreat in Nepal at the mo, but we expect him back before New Years. Absorb his words of wisdom based on his personal experience on how to maintain the flow of inspiration in your life…
When we talk about inspiration it’s often said that it comes in waves, suddenly washing over us before we’re able to even grasp at it or pick out the finer details. Before we know it, the wave passes and we’re left clutching at the final dregs as they slip through our fingers. This is often how it can feel; so temporary, and sooner or later we slip back into our everyday thoughts and feelings that seem so flat in comparison. So instead of letting the wave crash over us, let’s look at some techniques for how we can pop up and ride the wave of inspiration.
Getting out and seeing the world is a great way to find new sources of inspiration and reconnect with old ones. Travel is all about new experiences, you don’t even need to go very far or spend much money, there’s probably an abundance of new experiences waiting for you within a stones’ throw of your own home. Why not take a short 15 minute walk around the neighbourhood, just to get out and see where your legs take you. To make it more interesting, try leaving your phone, keys, and any money at home; this way you’ll have less distractions and are more likely to take notice of what passes through your mind as you breath the fresh air and take in the world around you. I bet you’ll return home feeling more inspired than when you left.
‘Travel’ is really a state of mind and not about the distance or the number of countries ticked off; anyone who goes on a round the world trip and comes home having ‘found’ themselves could have sure enough found themselves if they’d stayed put, provided they looked hard enough. Having said this, experiencing the sights and sounds of a foreign culture certainly helps to spark the imagination, just look at the artistic works of prolific travellers such as Lord Byron, Jimi Hendrix or even Banksy.
Visiting places that are unlike anywhere we have ever been before, be it physically or mentally, has the effect of stimulating a creative response, and creativity is how we bring inspiration into the world.
We all need to have a creative output from time to time, a means of expressing ourselves, even if we don’t consider ourselves to be the creative type. When we feel the urge to express ourselves creatively this is a golden opportunity to let our imagination come to the surface, to connect with what moves us. It’s times like this that we’re really able to cultivate our inspiration, to take the initial seed and help it grow tall and strong. Imagination, visualisation, creation; these are all in our toolkit, and the more we use them the more skillful we become with them.
Get to know what your favourite forms of expression are, your creative outputs – be it singing, painting, knitting – whatever you’re into. Once you come to know your creative output and practice it regularly it becomes like a surfboard; without it, when the wave of inspiration hits us it quickly raises us up, but then passes beneath us and we bob back down. With our surfboard of creative expression however, we can ride the wave of inspiration all the way to shore.
Practice Yoga, or Qigong or Tai Chi. All of these are artforms developed over centuries specifically to bring mind and body in harmony with one another. They help us to identify what our sources of inspiration are, and to become aware when we have lost sight of them. In other words they help us to notice when we are feeling uninspired, and noticing is the first step.
How many times do we put a negative experience or a bad mood down to us ‘having a bad day’? Putting a lid on the problem and hoping it will be gone tomorrow. Most of us rarely ask ourselves ‘why’ we feel down, grumpy or uninspired, we just live with it. In this way we could live our entire lives without getting to know ourselves on a root emotional level – letting every wave crash over us.
Practices like yoga significantly reduce the number of ‘bad days’ we have and help us feel inspired for longer. If we can say goodbye to bad days altogether then no longer will waves be crashing over us, nor will we be riding them. We’ll be the wave.
Take a moment right now to check in and ask yourself what you are grateful for. Try not to look back at what led you to this point, or what direction you might take in the future, simply remain focused on this moment.
We don’t have to search for long to find a great deal to be grateful for – a roof over our heads, food to eat, a loyal friend, a loved one. Some of these will be the very source of our inspiration, the things that give meaning to our lives. Being grateful is the act of rejoicing in that which inspires us, it serves to strengthen our own inspiration whilst inspiring those around us who see our gratitude as something worth aspiring to.
Even just being grateful for the everyday things can help us generate a sincere wish to give something back, to repay all the kindnesses shown to us up to this point – if only we could. From this position of gratitude comes generosity.
When we give, without expecting anything in return, this is a selfless act – even if it’s as simple as giving someone our time and attention. Giving money isn’t the only way to show our appreciation. The happiness and wellbeing of the receiver is our reward, and the less attached we are to that reward the greater the joy we feel in our own heart. More importantly, when we act selflessly it is impossible for us to be caught up in our own thoughts, emotions and concerns which act as a block to our inspiration. Giving generously however, opens our heart to others, it breaks down all barriers and exposes us to a wealth of experiences and opportunities, which as we know, opens the floodgates for inspiration to come pouring in.
But it gets better. When other people see our acts of generosity it inspires them to give too. Our gratitude and generosity is inspirational.
Guard your inspiration
Inspiration is a fragile thing, so hard to gain and so easily lost. This is the most crucial point to take away from this article, because a proper understanding of this will leave you determined to guard the sources of your inspiration as though your life depended on it. Some things truly are sacred, or at least they should be if we’re to have anything to believe in. Don’t share what inspires you with other people, unless you’re certain they will appreciate it as you do. Looking for credit from others or looking to connect with someone over something that you find profoundly inspiring will more than likely end up draining your vitality and eating away at your precious inspiration.
Do what’s right for you. This seems obvious but it’s harder than you think; it takes introspection into what the right thing is for you, mindfulness to notice when something is in conflict with this need, and courage to act upon it. This is especially true when those around us expect us, or even depend on us, to act in a particular way. On such occasions it can be very hard to break with habit, but sometimes it’s necessary in order to guard our inspiration, to continue riding that wave. By this time you may be thinking that this all sounds a bit self-centred, but it’s really not; after all, being the best version of yourself – living an inspired life – is the perfect platform from which to set about helping others.
So there we have it, something to think about next time you feel your life lacking inspiration. Seek out new experiences, say ‘yes’ more. Spend some time thinking about where your inspiration has come from previously, and how you might go about rekindling this. Express yourself and fuel the fire of inspiration, use your imagination and get creative. Most importantly, treat the things that inspire you with respect, as though they are sacred, so that they may continue to inspire us time and time again until our life is enriched with purpose – the core of which being a life lived in generosity to others.