After 30 years, I have come to an important realization about creative inspiration: It does not have to be an occasional thing. Sure, inspiration often come in sudden flashes. That is why we tend to liken it to thunderstorms and lightning strikes--powerful forces of nature that can hardly be predicted, let alone harnessed.
As with any such force, inspiration evokes a sense of wonder. Three decades later, I am no less in awe of it than when I started. I will never give you the impression that being inspired is as easy as pushing a button or adding water to your instant oatmeal. It simply isn't. For me, discovering what inspires me and under what conditions has been a lifelong learning process. I have come to see inspiration as a combination of serendipity and self-discipline. Inspiration comes in its own time, but when it does arrive, you can make the most of it. Getting inspired is magical; staying inspired is a practice. As Bruce Lee said, "You can never invite the wind, but you must leave the window open."
So, how do you stay inspired? What does it take to live a life of inspiration? I have found that the experience of inspiration has three parts, each of which can be magnified through proper action:
1. Aliveness. This is pure sensation--pure awareness--in the absence of all thought. Whether you know it or not, you have experienced it. There have probably been times when you have gotten so immersed or absorbed in what you were doing or feeling that you "lost yourself" in the moment; all thoughts, concerns, and struggles simply disappeared. At such times, you may have felt fully alive, totally present. Here is the best way I know to describe that experience: "Here and now, Baby!"
2. Passion. Creative inspiration is driven by two of the most powerful forces in the universe: love and joy. Together, they give rise to bliss and ecstasy. To be inspired is to feel some combination of these four emotions--love, joy, bliss, and ecstasy--with such intense passion that it energizes you and enlivens your creation. You can also tell when a work of art is truly inspired because it oozes and radiates passion. Conversely, you can't help but feel when someone is going through the motions with no real emotional involvement. The end result just seems to fall flat; it lacks the capacity to engage us or touch our hearts.
3. Clarity. During bursts of inspiration, I often hear the words of this song in my head: "I Can See Clearly Now." It's as if entire panoramic vistas open up to me. I even have flashes when I feel I can access all of the wisdom in the universe. This might just be illusory, but there is no question that when you and I are feeling inspired, we can detect patterns, interconnections and distinctions that are not always discernible to us. This clarity is a function of our receptivity. How open can we make ourselves to fresh ways of experiencing and understanding the world? For a moment or two, we stop clinging to the old assumptions and labels. Then, all kinds of possibilities make themselves known to us.
To stay inspired, just do what it takes to promote aliveness, passion, and clarity in yourself. This means becoming a student of your body and mind, your sensations and emotions, and your strengths and weaknesses. I can tell you what works for me, and I will happily do so here. In fact, my past blogs are filled with such accounts. If I am an expert on anything, it is my own experience of inspiration. But what gets and keeps me inspired may not necessarily work for you. When you find something in Deep Creativity or on this blog, my suggestion is: Give it a try! If it works, that's great. If not, move on to the next activity or exercise. You will find plenty more in the days and weeks to come!