When you are healthy and living in balance with yourself, others, and life, you automatically release brain cells of inspiration that uplift the soul.
All too often our inspiration wanes because our heart closes down. We encounter some difficulty, challenge, insult, embarrassment, or failure, and our heart plummets into the depths of despair and self-judgment.
Scientists have discovered the happy part of our brains that “spray other areas of the brain” with dopamine – the feel good chemical. (To learn more, be sure to check out the TED Radio Hour Podcast from June 28, 2019 with relationship scientists entitled, “How We Love.”) When we’re sad, like after a breakup or loss of a loved one, another part of the brain becomes active and your inspiration goes down the drain.
Inspiration, from the Latin “inspiritus,” means filled with spirit or the life force. It’s composed of two words, breath and spirit, which, when combined, mean to be alive, filled with the muses, filled with god. From Middle English, it means to inspire or to receive divine guidance.
When inspired, you are engaged in life – there’s no anxiety, no worries, no doubt, no fear because you are too busy being happy. When you’re happy you are far away from doubt, sadness, and fear.
Fear steals your joy. It’s a robber and feeds on the heart like a parasite. Fear is the corrosive agent of the heart and breaks it down, tears it apart, separates it from its healthy connection to all things, people, and life. Fear isolates and diminishes, whereas, love unites and expands.
Inspiration is also related to its “cousin,” enthusiasm, which comes from the Latin en theos, filled with god.
Yoga teaches that, when you do what you love, enthusiasm follows. Joy flows in the wake of enthusiasm. But it all starts with doing what you love.
Do you know what you love? Do you know what lights you up in life? If not, you have some work to do. Knowing yourself is the essence of the yogic journey. This takes time, sacred space, prioritization, and courage. Why courage? You need to be fearless enough to have an honest look at yourself. Do you know your weaknesses? Your shortcomings? Your addictions? Of equal importance, do you know your strengths? Gifts? Talents? And do you acknowledge them? Do you take time to honor and experience your goodness?
Tantra Yoga is not about having problems and then trying to fix the problem.
Life is a huge paradox. We all long for love and belonging. But in order to experience true love that has longevity, there’s no straight answer.
It’s an amazing paradox, like life, because we want and need security and adventure, stability and freedom, certainty and uncertainty. Yes, uncertainty. Because if your life is always certain, always the same, always predictable, you will become bored and lose your inspiration.
We also need to have certainty – a place to sleep at night and enough food. But with uncertainty comes adventure, spontaneity, surprise, and fun. Plus when you allow for uncertainty, you co-participate with grace.
Tantra: We are the co-conspirators with the Life Force Energy.
Like a sailboat, you have a grasp of the sail and rudder, but grace is the wind. You ‘ain’t’ going nowhere without grace! Yoga is the skill and art of harnessing the winds (of grace). With more skill, experience, and time, you gain the wisdom to live well. This is yoga.
I visited a friend a while back who had a very excitable 3-year old black lab dog named Travis. On one visit I remember walking through the front door and being almost bowled over by Travis with enthusiastic wags and licks. My friend said Travis needed to go out and he thought we’d all take a ride down to the beach and let him run freely on the beach at the dog park.
When we arrived at the beach, as soon as the door opened a crack barely wide enough for a weasel, Travis bulleted out of the car and made a mad dash toward the water. “Now that’s enthusiasm,” I thought to myself. Once we all made it down to the beach, Travis was wildly galloping back and forth along the edge of the beach and water. I wondered what the heck he was doing.
I saw Travis chasing a flock of gulls from one end of the beach to the other, jumping up about six feet, just missing the gulls with his jaw. The birds would circle around back to the other end of the beach. Travis would run back to where they landed and chase them down to the other side of the beach. This continued over and over again. I didn’t notice much at first until I got curious.
Why were the birds repeating this pattern and tolerating the botheration of Travis? Then I saw it. A little old lady on the far end of the beach was feeding the gulls. They would fly over and gather at her feet. Then Travis would charge toward them. The gulls would fly up just above Travis’s reach and take him down to the other end of the beach, fly back to their food source, and continue to feed. Once my friend and I caught on to this little dance, we fell down laughing hysterically.
Travis’s enthusiasm never ceased the whole time we were at the beach even though he never achieved his goal – to catch a gull. He seemed to be uninterested in the result but super enthusiastic about the journey. One of the ways we lose our enthusiasm is when we become preoccupied with the result. We forget to stay present and enjoy the journey. Life is a journey, not a result.
What would it take for you to have enthusiasm like Travis?
Inspiration is our capacity to tap into the infinite stream of energy that courses through the universe at all times with total enthusiasm (filled with the god-force). Yoga is a way to access this life stream.
When you do what you love, you become inspired, then you ride the life-wave that is endless and never depletes.
In this way, you too never lose your energy. Many people get tired mid-day. But when you’re inspired, you have plenty of energy that lasts all day long, hopefully without caffeine. But even if you use caffeine, the life force never wanes and you feel uplifted from the time you wake up to the time you go to bed.
Inspiration happens when you remember your true nature, when you get a glimpse of grace, and recognize the universal within your individual self. This is what inspires me most.
I’ll be teaching a wide range of courses this fall and winter, everything from one-day sessions and weekend retreats all the way to the Ashaya Yoga In-Depth Study/200-Hour Teacher Training and, of course, there’s the 2020 Tropical Retreat in January. I invite you to register for one of my upcoming programs and get re-inspired!
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