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by wah!

Inspiration is something you take in. It’s an impetus for creative thought. It’s an opening. How does this happen? What leads up to the -aha!- moment that changes your way of thinking? If we’re talking about breathing, then the inspiration comes only after expiration. Inhale follows exhale. It’s only after expelling air from the lungs completely that there is room for fresh air to come rushing in. If we’re talking about thought process, inspiration often comes after discovering old methods and thought patterns which no longer hold true. New theories are born because new information disproves previously accepted frameworks of thought. And if we’re talking about life, inspiration is a delicious moment of welcoming new attitudes. It is often described as a burst of inspiration, aptly describing the exhilarating moment when old thought is shattered and new thought is taken on. When we surrender the old happily and voluntarily, inspiration is effortless.

When our personal junk gets in the way, even huge amounts of inspiration will do nothing. For example, I was at a workshop last week with some good meditation teachers and they were saying things which intellectually made a lot of sense but I wasn’t really absorbing their teachings. An interaction I experienced before the workshop had triggered old emotional scars and I was swimming in their latent potency. I sat there, calmly and attentively, waiting for the divine love to seep in. It didn’t. After 1 hour, I was cold, shivering and closed down. After 2 hours, I was hungry and distracted. After 3 hours, agitated. And by the end of the workshop, I was pretty much out of my mind. It didn’t really matter how inspiring the teachers were, I wasn’t getting anything out of it. My own emotional baggage prevented me from being in the moment, from receiving the inspiration I had paid good money to enjoy. After a good healing treatment and some tears and talk, I was clear again, and finally able to absorb the divine energy of the afternoon.

Inspiration doesn’t have to be a dramatic upheaval however. Happily surrendering old viewpoints can be a fun and easy thing to enjoy. Finding things to be grateful for in the day, appreciating new ideas and thoughts from others, reading and studying create a flow of inspiration in your life. And if you are inspiring others in return, well, that’s just icing on the cake. I have a recent friendship which was built solely on inspiration. When we first met, this woman was a novice yoga student, and she asked me for private yoga lessons in exchange for healing treatments. My job was to unlock the blockages in her hips and heart. Her job was to soften and nurture my travel-weary body. Each of us wanted to uplift the other. It developed into a beautiful friendship, boasting mutual respect and admiration. I believe all communities are built on this foundation of friendship, enthusiasm and mutual support.

I can’t really think of a time I was inspired from something I did myself. The inspiration always comes from outside. After all, if I knew how to do it, I would have already mastered it. How inspiring is that? Inspiration is when I see things in a different way, think differently, feel differently. I don’t often get that experience from my own inner chemistry. Others around me are usually responsible for pointing out a way I could do things differently or introducing me to a new healing technology or new way of eating or acting or thinking or practicing – well, the list is endless. Just being around people who embody the positive changes I am trying to make in my life is enough to create the inspirational landscape I need.

My inspiration comes from those I have had personal contact with – friends, saints, family members. Sometimes a book will inspire me or open new doors, but usually it’s the personal contact which endures tests of time. When I find someone who inspires me, I stick to them like glue. I study their minds and enjoy their company, slowly and steadily replacing my outdated or unconstructive ways of thinking with their own. If someone has shown me a more open way to access myself, I keep them right close beside me. I keep their picture on my altar, on my desktop, in my car, or around my neck. Whatever keeps their energy alive in my life works for me. I talk to them in meditation, wear the necklace they gave me, and emulate their style. I use their lives to inspire the changes I would like to create.

Sometimes an inspirational experience from the past will leave a lasting impression on me. If it has a positive effect, I use it as for inspiration. For example, my grandmother was a hard-working immigrant who maintained a farm. She made quilts, planted trees, vegetable gardens and caned her own chairs, among other things. And after a long day’s work, if you asked her how it went, she always said, “It’s a-gainin’!” She never complained about the hard work or became impatient. I use this memory to inspire patience and diligence in my own life.

I have noticed that if I only focus on the positive inspiring things which are happening in my day, my energy stays inspired. If I talk about what’s not inspiring to me, it draws my attention away from what I love and basically just drags me down. Inspiration works best for me when it is combined with self-scrutiny and self-awareness. When I find inspiration in the little twists and turns of my day, it changes my perspective and I look for even more positive developments. One inspiration leads to another, one grateful thought leads to more, one expression of happiness begins a trail of happiness. It’s contagious, and it builds a delightful inner landscape of inspiration and strength.

Inspiring others is a great occupation (being a journalist for this magazine, for instance). Encouraging others towards excellence is a job which has energetic rewards. If you have lifted someone else’s spirit, it greatly strengthens your own. In Anusara Yoga, each class begins with a theme, an inspirational thought on which to focus during class. Placing a positive intention at the beginning of practice does this beautiful thing – it initiates an energetic pathway for yogic power. The divine energy created by the postures and breathing flows along the energetic pathways created by this inspirational thought, which strengthens the student’s connection to his or her personal divinity. The inspiration is internalized, needing no words to express its full potential. Inspiration can be gotten from books, friends, teachers and saints. It can be spoken words or a presence felt. It can turn your head around for a minute or last a lifetime. One thing’s for sure: inspiration is something we give to each other.

Wah! is a musician and spiritual seeker who travels the world singing and expanding sacred intention. Her latest CD Savasana*2 is designed for deep relaxation and healing. www.wahmusic.com