Look After Your Mind June 23

Look After Your Mind – Inspiration

The word inspiration was originally related to the breath; compare it to respiration, the act of breathing, and expiration, to breathe out.

The ancient Greeks believed that the muses breathed new ideas and an appreciation of the arts into people’s minds. The word muse is itself interesting, related as it is to ‘museum’, which means ‘the seat of the muses’, a place where inspiration is to be found.

Develop Inspiration

When I talk with children in schools about having ideas, I mention the old meaning of inspiration and tell them that being inspired is a skill that can be developed by “breathing in experiences and breathing out ideas”. Although inspiration is often cultivated in a particular field – in my case, I want to be inspired in my writing – it spills over into many areas of life where new possibilities can be opened up.

Apart from the practical value of generating new ideas, inspiration feels good. That sudden moment of insight or the sense of a new direction is exciting and motivating, and it can feel as though a burden has been lifted off one’s shoulders.

There are many easy ways of developing the skill of inspiration (if I may call it that), including the following:

Carry a notebook and pen

As inspiration develops, ideas can come along at any moment, quite unexpectedly. Keeping a notebook handy creates a sense of positive expectation, while the act of writing new ideas down is a mark of self-respect.

Make time for daydreaming

Even if you tend to think of it as ‘idle’, just let your thoughts drift gives your busy conscious mind some ‘down time’, like a car engine idling in neutral. If you’re seeking possible solutions to a problem, consciously relaxing frees up the creative subconscious part of the mind to work on the task.

Be nosy

In other words, cultivate the habit of noticing things and asking questions. Again, if you’re looking to solve problems, the act of noticing will improve the chances of your mind connecting what you see and hear to the matter at hand. When inspiration strikes, it can feel like a coincidence, but it’s uncanny how often such coincidences can happen!

Free Write

Having identified a problem, give your mind some time to process possibilities – again, this will happen largely subconsciously – and then just write whatever comes to mind. The important thing here is to try not to think of ideas; simply let the words flow out, even if they don’t make sense. Another option is to use a voice recorder if you prefer to speak your thoughts.

Create a Solution Board

Use a cork board to stick pictures, quotes, small objects, and whatever else comes to hand. The items may not seem to be related to the issue you’re exploring but may well connect in your mind to suggest ways forward.

Finally, take inspiration from others

Read books, watch videos, and listen to audios of people whose ideas interest and motivate you. And if you’re in touch with creative people, meet up if you can to bounce ideas around – a process known as synergy, from the Greek for ‘working together’.

Steve Bowkett.