Creating the Conditions for Inspiration to Flow
“You got to prime the pump, you must have faith and then believe; you must give of yourself before you’re worthy to receive.” – ‘Desert Pete,’ the Kingston Trio
As a child, I remember watching the Miracle Worker many summers in Tuscumbia, Alabama at Ivy Green, Helen Keller’s home. The scene I most remember was at the pump. Young Helen (both deaf, dumb, and blind) first learned the connection between braille and her ability to read when her teacher Annie Sullivan spelled water into her hands over and over again as she was pumping water over her palms. The inspiration/ability to read, Helen’s spark, flowed from the repetition.
Every day that I grew up I witnessed my mother start her day with a couple of cups of Folgers, eggs, and toast. By 8:30 my mother was firmly planted at her manual typewriter, writing. My mother was a respected Southern writer. When I asked why she did the same thing every day (except Sunday and some Saturdays) she said; Steffie, remember Helen Keller. She broke through all her disabilities by repeating. Remember, Helen attended Vassar and graduated Summa Cum Laude!
These repeated examples taught me that you have to show up and ‘prime the pump,’ if you are expecting your Inspiration to flow.
Inspiration is a Process
“showing up and repeating (especially when it doesn’t feel right or it seems like nothing is happening) is creating the circumstances for favor/inspiration”
Motivation and inspiration are like weather – constantly moving through – sometimes rain, sometimes sunshine. Relying upon the sunshine to stay put is a way to frustrate yourself and bring despair.
True lasting inspiration depends on moment-to-moment determination to return and allowing the return to become a habit.
Until we form this foundation few of us actually have more than a few periods of consistent inspiration.
Showing up and repeating (especially when it doesn’t feel right or it seems like nothing is happening) is creating the conditions for favor & inspiration.
In approaching inspiration this way, the practice of returning and repeating ‘becomes the guru.’ The doing allows us to develop a consistent relationship with our inspiration.
Your Inspiration is a process. If you are waiting on the wave, you can stop yourself before you fully get started and despair Responsibly set the conditions to bring Inspiration by showing up each day and performing a routine of:
- gratitude (remembrance of the good and recognition of something Higher than yourself)
- noticing what didn’t succeed and letting it go (releasing what did not serve you and what you believe it ought to look like) and sticking to the process.
- Doing something you really love several times a week that has nothing to do with this project.
Gratitude for the Good, Appreciation for A Source Higher than Yourself
‘Sseek first to remember and appreciate the unlimited moments. Inspiration at its’ source is unlimited.’
Isolating and looking for inspiration solely from your intellect is the route to a dry socket. Prepare your mental space with grateful remembrance of past blessings/ and recognition of a Source Higher than yourself. There are always limits to what is possible to know and do. To be human is to experience limitations.
Inspiration at its source is unlimited. Seek first to remember and appreciate the unlimited moments. Express deep thankfulness for the times when everything you knew and thought took a back seat and something more wonderful happened. In remembering these moments, you develop a womb fertile enough to receive the ‘new baby’ of inspiration and nurture her presence.
Noticing When Something You are Doing Is Not Succeeding and Letting Go
‘Sometimes the Lord of the Concept takes over. What this looks like is that you are stuck, nothing flows, and frustration becomes your closest ‘friend.’
Sometimes we get so distracted by our vision of how the project should look, act, and speak that we become prisoners of the concept. When this happens the guarding and fretting over the idea takes us captive so that other things that could inspire us simply don’t happen.
When this occurs the “Lord of the Concept” has taken over. What this looks like is that you are stuck, nothing flows, and frustration becomes your closest ‘friend.’ Once you have gone several rounds with this it is time to notice that ‘this idea does not have a heart.’ Remember, ideas that have inspiration as their source have heart and distinct messages they want to share.
Time to take a break and let go so that the message with heart can come. Make sure to ask that the message with the heart return.
Doing Something You Really Love
‘There are times you must completely take a break to give your inspiration time to germinate. When you plant a plant, you cannot dig it up every few minutes to see if it is growing.’
One of the greatest ways to create the conditions for inspiration is to make regular dates each week with doing things that you truly love. Is bicycling, cooking a beautiful dinner, or working in your garden a thing that uplifts and restores you? It is essential to clear the screen and replenish your psyche with things that lift you. It is also important that this joy be on a completely separate track from your project.
Sometimes you must completely take a break to give your inspiration time to germinate. When you plant a plant, you cannot dig it up every few minutes to see if it is growing. Making a date to do things you love on a regular basis allows you to fertilize your spirit and create the internal conditions for inspiration. to grow. Enjoyment, things you love, and inspiration are ‘kissing cousins.’ Fertilize your spirit with what uplifts you. Inspiration draws inspiration. Light draws light.
In creating the conditions for inspiration through a) grateful remembrance of a Source Higher than yourself, coupled with b) willingness to let go of what is not succeeding and does not have a heart, and c) following with walking away regularly to replenish your well with what you love, you create a space of renewal, and positive expectation. When you add to this the regular practice of going to your workspace and spending regular hours there practicing on your project, you have created the circumstances to manifest inspiration. It is my hope that you enjoy all the fruits of your personally primed pump!