May 25, 2011

Finding Inspiration

Without inspiration, musicians struggle to compose, writers are blocked, painters languish before an empty canvas, & actors betray their characters. Feeling inspired rivets your attention, warms your heart, and draws you in. It creates the urge to do your best so that you can reach your own higher ground. It’s a form of positivity  that pulls us out of our shell of self-absorption.
The word inspiration suggests that something has been ‘taken inside’ the individual. Philosopher Ignacio Gotz called it “one of the most mysterious moments in anyone’s life, the instant when things ‘click’ and fall neatly in place, or a new idea flashes in the dark.” He explained it as follows: The mysterious instant goes by many names: inspiration, enlightenment, illumination, intuition, insight, vision, revelation, and discovery... Religious mystics speak of ecstasy and satori; poets, painters, musicians, dancers, and historians invoke their Muses; while scientists and mathematicians, parsimonious and prosaic, claim only hunches and intuitions.
Individuals find inspiration in many ways. For example, when psychologist Robert Ornstein tried to research this topic, he found that there were nearly as many sources of inspiration as people in his study. Australian health researchers Debbie Kralik and Kerry Telford asked individuals who were suffering from various chronic illnesses where they turned for inspiration. The responses were diverse, encompassing religion and loving relationships as well as the sound of birds in the morning, friends, and one’s own endurance. In addition, a number of people cited an inspiring role model who had shown great courage in similar or even worse circumstances.
All sources of inspiration can be captured in two basic strategies: inside out or outside in.
Kids Drawings as Photographic Inspiration:
Korean Photographer Yeondoo Jung uses children's artwork as inspiration for his photos. His exhibit Wonderland has shown in Beijing China, Barcelona Spain and New York.
You can try an inside –out approach to discover inspiration from within, or you can adopt an outside-in technique to draw inspiration from the external world.
If you seek inspiration from within, you can begin by using a simple but powerful technique recommended by many self-help gurus, including the late Dale Carnegie. Challenge yourself with empowering questions. For example, you might try the following: ‘I work hard. I have skills and talent. Why can’t I be just as successful as my co-worker?”
If you are interested in finding inspiration from the external world, read widely, make contact with nature, visit new places, or watch inspirational films. Researchers have found that music can be a powerful source of inspiration. You can select songs to fit your particular needs.
If you are facing a difficult challenge, try to reframe it as a growth opportunity, or part of a larger life lesson. Committing oneself to some form or action can unleash previously dormant, powerful inner forces. You may benefit from a combination of approaches. Many of those who have persevered, despite years of pain and adversity, have been able to combine a will to act with the belief that they are pursuing a higher calling.
Try IT!!
Perhaps you have tried some of the above suggestions but still feel mired in the hopeless grind of an uninspired life. The following guidelines are adapted from psyhchologist John Suler’s Internet posting.
For a period of at least four hours, leave your home and go out somewhere. Don’t plan ahead. Just follow your instincts and go where your intuition leads you. Do this alone. If you encounter a friend or acquaintance, limit your time with them to just a few minutes.

As you move about, reflect on one or more big questions that you would like to answer such as “Who am I?”, “What is important for me?” and “What do I want from life?”

Try to balance thinking and reflecting with moments of unfocused drifting.
Frequently remind yourself that you are on a quest, a search mission. Expect to find something and trust that insights will occur. Stay open to any sign or symbol that might provide you with inspiration. It could be something that happens to you or something you see or hear. Bring a notebook and a pen. Every half hour or so, sit down and write. Note your reactions, including your thoughts, your feelings, and your insights. If you’re feeling anxious, frustrated, or bored, ask yourself why and write about this aspect of your experience. If nothing important has happened, you should reflect and write about this as well.

For some, the call to mastery will reflect a universal tune such as the impulse to be a good parent, teacher, artist, plumber, farmer, or business owner. For others, it may consist of a more personal “mission in life”. In addressing your particular needs, you must look deep within, far ahead, and everywhere around. Only you can evaluate your success in life.


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