We are all inspired by different outside forces. The greatest inspiration often comes from the most powerful sources. For me this is often my own heart. The inspiration to act, to grow, to move, must touch the heart or it is nothing more than a cool idea. Inspiration can result in a new cupcake recipe (yes this happens to me all the time and they are usually amazing), a really cool yoga sequence, or even a life path.
In the search for inspiration I have often looked to the outside to gain motivation to act. Eating healthy, working out consistently, meditating, I am that person, the one who buys programs and books to “learn” stuff I already know. While I will agree reminders are helpful, it often leaves me feeling uninspired. I have come to realize about myself that I need new challenges, new people and new inspiration to grow.
From the outside people often view me as over committed and the queen of multitasking. While this is one perspective, my perspective is this, I am always looking for new opportunities to be inspired. I enjoy having my perspective challenges, even by my 7 year old, and it gives me the opportunity to reimagine what comes next. I have floated along like this for years and it has worked, always guiding me where I need to be when I need to be there.
Inspiration came in a new form this time around. In 2016, I decided I was attending a week long yoga retreat in a different country with a newer to me teacher, by myself, no friends, no preconceived notions about me or my role, just practicing as a student, to find some new perspective. What was most interesting about this retreat was that upon arrival the teacher began immediately speaking of inspiration and what it means to be inspired, and how we gain inspiration. As we moved through the week of vigorous and chill yoga practices, time on the beach, time with new friends, I began to appreciate the inspiration that is already present in me. The Inspiration that is in my heart. I sat with this during one afternoon meditation and realized a few things about myself as a teacher, a mother and a human being.
Let me back up. My entire life I have had a path, and that path has been about a mile long, always growing out in front of me when I need it to, but never really moving beyond that mile or so. I realized in high school Sociology that I wanted to be an “Sociologist”, although I had no clue what that meant, so I talked to my teacher, who helped me understand Social Work was my path. So I got a Bachelors degree in Social Work, and I knew I wanted to be a therapist, so I got a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Then I wanted a license to practice, got that, then I wanted to teach Yoga, did that….Are you seeing a pattern, because I do. I am super capable of completing tasks, I set a goal, I do it, that’s the end. Can life get more un-inspiring? Now that’s not to say that I have not worked with some amazing people, helped lots of people have better lives and aided on others journey of inspiration to change and live their passion. But I have rarely looked at my own journey.
In truth, I have not had to work real hard for anything in my life, academics always came easy to me, and life has always had a way of presenting the next turn to me. This led me to believe I was on the right path doing what the universe wanted me to do. -Such a classic yogi statement right there- All of the choices I have made in my life, I have made because they were there, so I wanted them and that was that. I have never really had to “work” at doing anything different.
That is not to say I haven’t had major failures in my life, I have, but I have always been one to ‘rise above the shit’, and always seem to do ok. This of course was not always the case, I am reminded when I work with adolescents that I was no peach during this phase of my life, but I have become adaptable. This is often one of my strengths and is seen as ‘going with the flow’, or ‘always chill’. Can you see how always being ok with the outcome can be both a good and bad thing? It’s great I don’t let shit stir me up, however, we grow and learn much more from our errors, mistakes and failures, than we do our successes.
This brings me back to the retreat and inspiration, when I began to look at what is truly in my heart, what my hopes and dreams are and what I am inspired to do, I realized that I have known for a long time what I want to do. It’s in my damn bio, “dreaming of life as a gypsy”. Although being a gypsy is of no real interest to me, traveling and sharing my passion for yoga and life is. I have been talking about it for a long time, teaching workshops around the country and sharing my knowledge of the body and the mind with others. I know this and guess how I decided to tackle this, yes I said tackle, because I have been trained 1. Goal 2. Objective 3. Time Frame for completion.
It was during this meditation that I realized I have been leading with my head and not my heart. Remember, inspiration resides in the heart and much like the rest of my life, I have seen this next phase as a task. One that can be quantified in a spread sheet, and tallied with a calculator or formula. I had forgotten to stop and ask myself why? Why do I want to share what I know? What can it do for others? and How can I go about that? are better questions for me. I am a great therapist and offer perspective and opportunities to grow for my clients, but to quite honest, I am that person for everyone in my life. I have become the provider, always the provider, this retreat inspired me to be the receiver. The contemplator, the one who takes time to really think about why I want to do it, and how that would look. Not just how many locations I want to teach in by what date.
I often teach, in relationships we give what we need to the people in our lives, it is why some relationships fail, because we don’t hear what the other person needs because it is superseded by our perspective based on our own experiences. I now know that not only was I not doing that, I had completely let go of what I needed, not to please other people, but because there were few places in my life that it mattered. When you see a therapist you don’t want to know their needs. When you take a yoga class, you don’t want to hear, “we are practicing this today because it’s what I need’, at least I didn’t think so. I have now returned to self study, to answer my own questions of needs within the context of relationships both personally and professionally, as well as a path of inspiration. I ask myself daily what and why? What do I want to do today to grow and why? I am often much more comfortable booking condos for friends, planning trips and creating spreadsheets, but as a very wise teacher and friend said to me recently, that is my balance, my comfort, and while that is okay, and even helpful, it is not my all.
I will leave you with this, the path from inspiration to engagement with change as I know it is simply this:
- Always be learning, whether about yourself, your role in life, your job or your passion, always be a student. It is in this mode as student that we are able to explore our potential.
- Be aware of your own patterns, biases and barriers and how they get in the way of your dreams. Are you a procrastinator? Do you experience negative self talk? Are you in a/or multiple negative relationships? Are you a giver and “too busy” to take care of yourself?
- Work to change your patterns. If negative self talk gets in the way, develop positive affirmation to over come the negative. The brain is malleable and will believe what you tell it.
- Express what inspires you. To another person, in a journal, anywhere, begin to hold yourself accountable for this “dream”.
- Stay connected with inspiring people, not just great friends, but them too, people that ask you to look at yourself or cause you to look at yourself. One of the most inspirational people in my life is my daughter, her zeal for life and her energy are contagious, and her sass always makes me examine my own actions, after all I’m who she learned it from. But beyond that she allows me to explore my motivation. My ‘why.’