When was the last time you were inspired? How many people do you know that inspire you on a regular basis? What is inspiration anyway? These are questions I ask myself regularly. Why? Because in my mind, inspiration is what makes us better. Here are some definitions of inspiration: The drawing of air into the lungs. Stimulation of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity. The causing of enthusiasm or a sudden idea. Are you craving that feeling of inspiration? Have you given it any thought?
Over the course of an average day, we experience a wide range of emotion. These emotions are reactions to things happening around us. They are often reactions based on previous experiences and anticipation of other experiences. Being reactive is not the same thing as being inspired. When we react, we are often feeling powerless, at the mercy of the experience. Inspiration creates a more empowered situation.
Many people feel at odds with their surroundings and the activities that they spend most of their time doing, often their jobs. Maybe they do a job that doesn’t feed them on an energetic level. Maybe they work for a company whose beliefs aren’t consistent with their own. Maybe they are encouraging people to consume more than they really need. Maybe they are working a schedule that is unhealthy. Unfortunately, this scenario is more and more common. Our culture rewards overworking, consuming too much, and being “busy.” Stress is a direct reaction to these issues. Stress is a symptom of feeling powerless in some way.
In contrast, inspiration can be an antidote. First, we need to figure out what or who might be inspiring. Even more pressing is to take a deep breath. Literally inspire, breath deeply, fill your lungs and your body with energy, oxygen, and prana or life force. At O2, we put breath at the forefront of the practice. Why? Because conscious breath is key to transformation. The breath literally calls us to the present moment. It literally feeds our cells and more subtly feeds our energetic body. Think about how you feel at the beginning of a yoga practice and then contrast that with that feeling you get coming out of savasana. Much of that difference comes from the time you spent focusing on breath.
How does this help with the other types of inspiration? Stimulation and stress are like a cluttered closet. There is all this stuff bottled up and bouncing around inside of us. It is nearly impossible to find the space in our brains to see and feel things that make us feel light when we are cluttered up. Breath and movement (yoga asana especially) help to clean out, wring out, and clear out the body and the mind. Being inspired is being empowered. Being empowered to make changes in your life and the lives of others. These things can be very small. In fact, they really start as ideas. Being empowered means at first just knowing that there are options, choices. It then means defining them. It then means maybe, just maybe, putting them into action. The beauty of being inspired is that change feels good. Transformation happens not because we force it, but because the circumstances are created. The options become available. The choices are there to be made.
Being inspired does not necessarily make for an easier life. We all know that yoga practice is not “easy.” The practice of yoga and the practice of being inspired are disciplines, work. But this practice of yoga, this practice of inspiration, makes for a life that is more satisfying, more prana-rich, and more fulfilling.
On that note, I would like to introduce you to the co-founders of Maple Farm Sanctuary, Cheri Exell-Vandersluis and her husband Jim (maplefarmsanctuary.org/Our%20Story.htm. On May 22, we raised $760 for the support of the animals in their care. Talk about inspiration not making for an easy life! These two wonderful people were inspired to make a space in the world that was free of violence. They were recently featured in a movie called Peaceable Kingdom (www.peaceablekingdomfilm.org/. Watch the short clip and see inspiration at work. These people in the film don’t just inspire me, they challenge me to be better, they motivate me to make change, and they encourage me to stand up for those who don’t have a voice. Inspiration comes in all forms, and it is part of the transformation taking place all around us. I wish you a summer full of inspiration and full of O2 Yoga.
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yoursellf to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.” —Patanjali
Speaking of Maple Farm Sanctuary: I am organizing a volunteer day at the Farm on Thursday, June 24. Please let me know if you would like to attend and I will tell you more! Mimi@o2yoga.com