We have this book that isn’t really meant to be a children’s book but is one that we read to our daughter called “Good Night iPad.” Describing the things in the room is the phrase “and the bings, bongs, and beeps of e-mails and tweets…” and it is a phrase that reverberates though my mind often. We live in a world of constant bings, bongs, and beeps. Even when our outer world is relatively silent, we still have bings and bongs going on in our minds with a constant stream of thoughts that nothing can penetrate, including inspiration.
I’ve written before about the experience of having inspiration strike. But, I really wasn’t the target of some random lightning bolt strike; I had already done a lot to open the door to inspiration so that it was possible for me to receive it. Learning how to quiet my mind was the first part of that. I wish that I could tell you that I am a Zen master comfortable with complete stillness of the mind, but that would be an outright lie. There’s still a lot of binging going on in my brain, but the volume is way down and the breakneck speed with which thoughts used to go zinging around in there has slowed too. And though I may never achieve perfect stillness, just calming things down a bit has been enough to open that door to inspiration and to welcome in the new, creative, unique ideas that never had a place to land before.
So what’s my secret? A rigorous practice of daily yoga and an hour of meditation. As if! I doubt that I have done an hour of yoga in total all year. But, I have worked at slowing down the pace of my life. I started with a makeover on my To Do list by rethinking what I really needed to get done and making sure that I was focusing on my own priorities. (If you want more help on how to do this, I recommend the early seasons of The Productivity Paradox podcast.) I used to spend a lot of time just being really busy with my brain constantly occupied with the things that needed to be added to my To Do list. I got a lot of s%^& done, but to what end? Now, my list for this week has about eight things on it and the important stuff is still getting done.
I also gave myself permission to slow down a bit and actually take time for things that I had deemed frivolous before and that I would only do when “everything” else was done. I do actually meditate now. I’m lucky if I get to squeeze in 20 minutes a few days a week, but the days when I do take that time get off to a much better start. I also make time for a “moving meditation” as many days a week as possible. That means that I go for a walk, but I find myself much more inclined to take the break for a “moving meditation” than to exercise. I go outside for some fresh air and some fresh perspectives. And, of course, I make time for creative play too. Even that I don’t do as often as I should (which is shameful for me to admit here, I know), but, just like taking a break and going out for a walk, creative play is its own form of meditation. Switching gears and taking a creative break to immerse myself in the activity of making something turns down the volume on the tornado of thoughts in my mind and it is in those moments of peace that inspiration comes knocking.
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