by Katherine M. Gotthardt, M.Ed.
Ever sit down to do something and suddenly feel a lack of inspiration? What is that, anyway? You had a great idea. You were excited and motivated. Then poof. Gone. It’s like the breath just got knocked out of you. There doesn’t seem to be a particular reason why. It just kind of happens.
The keyword here is breath.
If you look at the history of the word inspiration, you’ll see it dates back to the 1300s and refers to immediate influence by a god or gods that breathe into a mortal to motivate them to do something creative while guiding them along the way. Inspiration is the breath of life, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Artists thrive on it, but so do good leaders and those who want to control their own destinies. So there’s good reason why losing inspiration can feel like you just got sucker punched.
Here’s how to get it back.
- Get somewhere private, or at least where you feel a sense of privacy.
- Lower or close your eyes.
- Listen to yourself inhale and exhale.
- Feel your stomach and chest as you inhale and exhale. You can do this by putting a hand on your upper abdomen or just focusing on that part of your body.
- Breathe deeply and slowly in and out for 30-60 seconds, continuing to listen to your body. If other thoughts intrude, don’t fight them, but dismiss them.
- Visualize someone or something physically breathing into you. Feel the air they bring through your nose, throat and lungs.
- Open your eyes, take a deep breath, exhale and do what it is you sat down to do. Don’t wait. Just start.
Why does this work?
Many times when we feel we’ve lost our inspiration, it’s that we have suddenly shut ourselves in or down. Whenever we do this, our breathing goes to hell. We breathe too fast or not at all. It’s almost like a kind of anxiety. “I can’t do this. This won’t come out the way I want. I suck.” All those negative thoughts break in and trample on what should be one of our best creative moments. When that happens, we literally stop breathing correctly. This is a physical reaction to an emotional response, and one perpetuates the other.
I’m not saying this is the only way to bring inspiration back. But it is a quick, convenient path back to the right mindset. Certainly, if you have time and inclination to walk in the woods, mediate, or take a warm bath and those work for you, go for it. But at the heart of all those activities is breath. Don’t forget that. You don’t want to end up distracting yourself with other activities, or you could end up losing focus and procrastinating.
When it comes down to it,
words are breath,
lifegivers of the creative,
the inhale and exhale of cool air
through the nostrils,
into the heart,
the very stuff of heaven.
Ask not from where the breeze flows.
It doesn’t matter.
Feel it on your shoulders?
It’s turning you,
facing you in the direction
of the life you’re making.
Let it run its soft fingers
across your skin.
Until next time,