Would you like to be more creative? How do we access the kind of inspiration that enhances and unlocks imagination?
As I begin to write this first blog post, I slow down, take a deep breath and reach for inspiration. It hits me… breath. Inspiration. These things are intertwined from their deepest roots.
The Latin word “inspirare”, “to breathe into”, was used to paint the creation of humanity, not as a dusty golem or empty thing without consciousness, but as a living creation animated by the inspiration, the breath, of God. Regardless of your religious tradition, this is a stunning poetic image. It implies that inspiration is special and unique and the same time basic and universal.
Historically, inspiration and creativity have been lauded as divine processes, processes which we cannot control. Even in the most secular circles, they remain numinous, mysterious, supernatural. For this reason, we tend to regard artists and creative people as strange beings who are not “normal people”. And yet, another less familiar definition of inspiration is “the mental stimulus for thought and action”. Looked at from this angle, we see that nothing we do or think is possible without some degree of inspiration. Without it we never get out of bed in the morning.
Inspiration… it isn’t just for artists!
We tend to see inspiration as something perfect and distant from us, a flash of light, a quick revelation that comes to us fully formed. It would be truer to see it as a slow process which undergirds our entire being, carrying us along throughout our lives. There are those aha! moments in which we catch it at work, but closer inspection usually reveals that inspiration has been building to that moment for some time. It is as close as our breath; it dwells with us. Far from being perfect, it is often messy and even wasteful.
Breath is one of the few bodily functions that can be controlled consciously or subconsciously, depending on what we need at the time. What is the perfect breath? Think of the variety of breath used in singing, weight lifting, swimming, walking, blowing out a candle or having a baby. How can one way of breathing possibly be optimal in all of these situations? The perfect breath is the one that best suits what one needs to do at the time.
Likewise, inspiration also has infinite variety. That which pilots creative brainstorming may not function in learning and memorizing music, remembering a dance step, doing the dishes or driving a car. But inspiration is always with us, consciously or subconsciously, just like breath. To take it one step further, the more kinds of inspiration we experience, the more kinds of experience we can create.
As breath is composed of inhalation and exhalation, inspiration comprises stimulation and action. It creates movement and expression. We are compelled by something outside our consciousness to create, to breathe life into our imaginings. If we find ourselves frozen, stuck without a sense of creativity, we have only to begin moving again to regain it. So today I am taking a breath and starting that dance. Will you start it with me?