This week I’ve been questioning the origin of inspiration. The root of the word “inspire” means spirit, and to take in or to draw breath. In yoga that it is referred to as “prana” the sustainer of life, also known as my “life-force”. If breath is everything, maybe every little thing can inspire me?
In my youth, the film Xanadu taught me about imagination. In this movie musical, nine muses visit the earth to help motivate others to pursue their dreams and desires. One of the muses (Olivia Newton John) is incarnated as a girl named Kira, and with the assistance of Danny, (Gene Kelly) a man she inspired forty years before, they guide artist Sonny (John Travolta) to open a roller disco. I loved this horrible film! I sang and danced on our shag carpeted living room floor to its soundtrack and choreographed new dances to its disco beat. Most importantly, it taught me that creation might come from beyond me.
I have been told there is no such thing as originality and only seven stories exist that are retold in different ways. Therefore, I’m drawing from the collective unconsciousness. Perhaps it is the dance of my breath with that of the universe. People find all sorts of ways to tap into this unconscious dance, such as prayer, meditation, yoga, singing and running.
“I actually tend to be moving in some form when I am being my most creative with new ideas”, says Broadway actor Josh Davis. “I could be driving or walking or playing fetch with my dog, but the movement allows my mind to think of other stuff while my sub conscious can go snooping for creative ideas.”
My multi talented writer-actor-educator friend Daniel Lendzian says, “Anything can (and does) inspire if you allow it. I try to focus more on opening the channel, looking at things from different angles, and allowing myself to be vulnerable.”
I tend to access that channel in the shower. There is something about the relaxation of the body, the trickle of the rain-like water, and the soothing sound that places me in an almost meditative trance. I often wish I had a pad of paper and pen in there! It feels like the dance of co-creation.
In this crazy world you are constantly bombarded by images and sounds, with more coming daily. That’s an abundance to absorb, but it allows for ideas to arrive more frequently. How do you choose from so many options? The idea will be so nagging that you can’t help but write, paint, or compose it. If it doesn’t nag, you shouldn’t do it. Let that breath be someone else’s muse.
Keep an Inspiration folder on your computer. Anytime something thrills you, put it in there. It can be images, websites, articles, mems, or anything you truly love. When you are lost for the next idea or project, simply open the folder and find a treasure trove of possibilities.
Take a bath. Perhaps add some essential oils or lavender. As you lie in the tub, begin to notice your breath without attempting to change it. After a few rounds of breath, begin to lengthen the inhalation and the exhalation, taking a pause at the end of both. Allow the water to surround you, but do not pass out! Let whatever thoughts come as they may, but do not focus on them. Once you have entered a relaxed state, and something sticks, you know the muse has found you.