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Thursday, June 11, 2009

15 Great Inspiration Sources

There are many Wells of Inspiration available to us at any given time. When I refer to Inspiration, I mean the state of mind that can lead to great art, and also to that feeling that makes one want to commit to living their life as a work of Art. Not only a means to an ends but a goal unto itself- to live an Inspired Life! To support that noble goal I have gathered together this list of 15 places that you may go when you could use a dip in the Well.

1.) Nature

Get out of the house and out of your head. Go for a walk in a park, or better yet go hiking in a wild place. Sit or lay under a tree and contemplate it for 30 minutes. Sit at the ocean or on a mountain or in a garden and let yourself be reminded of the vast scale and intricate intelligence of these beautiful ecosystems. Nature is a great source of renewal, calm, beauty, and inspiration. I have found the most simple and profound universal laws so eloquently embodied and expressed through nature.

2.) Your own Music Collection

Whatever your current mood or state of mind, you can subscribe yourself music that will help. Uplifting if you are down, emotive if you need to wallow in it a bit, powerful if you are gearing up to take on the world... Look for singer/songwriters who have a quirky, profound and unique way of seeing life and let their perspectives enrich your own. Bored of your own music collection? Then ask your friends (the ones with good taste) to burn you a couple of CD's, and reciprocate the favor. Get a free account on Pandora.com and let it show you music similar to what you know you like. Bounce around on cdbabay.com or myspace or Itunes and add new elements to your musical apothecary.

3.) Books

Chances are you have some gems sitting in your shelves gathering dust. Try closing your eyes and pointing to 1 book at random and reading excerpts from it. Scan your bookshelf for titles that 'jump out' at you at any given time. Need new books? Do the above at your good friends bookshelf and ask to borrow the jumpiest ones. Look here (link) for my own Inspirational book recommendations. Coffee table photo books and Poetry Compilations are great places to get quick snippets of beautiful images or words to touch you.

4.) YouTube

Write a list of 3 things you have always wanted to know more about or see more of. Now go onto youtube.com and type in these words or phrases. I am not a big tv watcher and have been known to lose a couple hours geeking out on youtube watching videos about obscure interests like asian fan dancing and body percussion. I encourage you to do the same and you can make a free account and add the gems of your search onto your favorites so that you have a customized gallery of inspiring videos on call at any time.

5.) Inside Yourself

The words carved in stone at the entrance of the great Oracle of Delphi said "Know Thyself". Our lives these days are so cluttered with media, communication, opinions and information. It can easily lead to a state of overwhelmed over-stimulation, which can be hard on our nervous systems and our creativity. It is hard to hear the voice of the muse amongst all the clammer and static. It is very healthy to practice shutting out the worlds input and listening to your own. This turning in can be achieved in many ways. Some recommended methods include meditation, journal writing, a speaking fast, or a self-reflection retreat. Though I did have a consistent mediation practice in one chapter of my life, my all time favorite most trusted self-reflection tool is journal writing. Whatever I am going through, I can clarify, process and explore it in the ripe space between me and the page. I could write a hundred testimonials about the great merits of journal writing. However you can, cultivate and deepen the connection to your inner voice, your essential self.

6.) Movies

Watch movies that take place in the time period that most inspires you. Write down what it is about that time that you love and how you can bring more of its qualities into your life. Watch movies from other cultures, independent films, and anything soul searching or epic. If there is a character that you are inspired by, reflect on what exactly it is about them and how you can strengthen those qualities in yourself.

7.) The Internet

When you have the time, let yourself follow the golden thread (of your own intrigue) through the maze of the world wide web. Start by typing in some word or phrase that seems compelling to you in the moment and see what interesting places your key words take you. Keep following the thread of inspiration and keep a sticky note or word document open to pull url's, quotes, or ideas from off the sites you find. That way if you stumble upon treasure, you can mark it on a map so you can return to it next time you are in need of an Inspiration treasure hunt. You can go blog hopping or google images hopping and lose many an hour finding endless images and sites to inspire your artistry.

8.) Role Models

It can be incredibly motivating and inspiring to see someone who has made great achievements in a career that you aspire to. No matter how quirky your calling, there is a small or large handful of people out their with a similar calling who are some decades ahead of you. With the internet it is now much easier to track these human beacons down. I have a word file called "Role Models" and in it I clip a bio, summary, and web site of anyone who's career I am extremely jealous of. : When I go through a phase of amnesia about my life work, I look at these files and these living examples help remind me what is worth working for. If you are very lucky, you may get to have a personal relationship with one of these role models, which is a mentorship. If you have that kind of relationship, make sure to cherish it and find ways of feeding it. Dead, alive, accessible or virtual, role models can serve as a sort of measuring stick to hold yourself against to inspire you to grow to greater heights.

9.) Your Journal or memory

I have kept a journal since I was only 8 years old. On rare occasions I go into my cherishables box and read over my thoughts and captured memories from my childhood. But more often than that, I will glaze over my more recent journals, and mine them for their treasures. It can be insightful and inspiring to relive past joys and to see the connecting threads that run through the years. What has been compelling to you throughout the various phases of your life? Where have you changed and where have you remained much the same? Unlike skimming through other people's writings in search for inspiration, going through your own will bring you to content that is very uniquely reflective of you in your uniqueness. If you don't have journals, you can lay down in a hammock with a little digital audio recorder and scan your memories for experiences and stories that stand out. Be sure to capture the lessons you learned, so that you (and possibly someone else) will benefit from your experiential wisdom down the road.

10.) Spirituality, Religion, or Faith

Regardless of the form or depth of your spiritual beliefs, they can be a source of comfort and inspiration. If you belong to a religion and church, get more involved in the church and in reading the texts sacred to it. If you are open to different traditions, then delve into some study of the words of devotion and faith in different cultures. Mystical poetry, (such as Hafiz, Rumi, Mirabai, Goethe, etc...), psalms, spiritual novels, and devotional song books can all provide a nice taste of spiritual inspiration. Reading about or listening to people who have devoted their lives to service of God/Creator/Spirit can give us a perspective that can uplift our own motivations and aspirations. Wherever you feel closest to the sacred, go to that experience and use the energy you find there to fuel your work in the world.

11.) Collage or Vision Board

Collect and aquire as many magazines as you can. Pick a rainy or uninspired day and go through them seeking any image that strikes your fancy. Immediately cut out anything that strikes you in any way and gather a nice big pile. Once you have extracted the juice from your magz, recycle the husk and create a nice file or large envelope for your chosen images. Play with arranging them into relationship on paper or on a chair or table or chest. When you have found a compelling arrangement, get out the glue and viola- you have a collage. You can make a themed collage, such as one for healing or for reminding you of a specific goal, sort of a visual affirmation. You can also make a vision board that includes words and images representing your key goals for the year, and you will be amazed by the manifestation power of clearly identifying what you want and regularly anchoring it in your consciousness. (I lead a mini workshop leading this process if you want to gather some friends and have it facilitated) Place these creations in a highly visible place where you know you will take in their symbolic messages often.

12.) The Library

There are these magical buildings in almost every town where the fruits of the best intellects and imaginations of multiple eras is available for free. In the last couple years I rediscovered how awesome libraries really are. Your local library is not just a great source of books on almost any topic imaginable, (who's merits I already covered in #3) but also of magazines, periodicals, very cool oversized reference books, and often cd's and dvd's. Not all libraries are created equal, so I seek out the ones that do actually inspire me. The quiet is also very peaceful and makes for a good sanctuary for getting research and work done. The first month of writing my poetry book I would go to the best library in my county and force myself to focus on the book for at least an hour. (that sounds like nothing, I know, but at that time my one pointed focus muscle was so flabby that 1 hour was considered an achievement) If you find yourself suddenly compelled by some left field topic, you can go to the library and borrow some books on it. Like a search engine but more tangible, and cheaper than an amazon.com addiction, believe me.

13.) Survey the Greats of your Artistic Medium

You can get an easy inspiration boost by letting your mind dwell on the "greats" of your art form(s). Seek to be reminded of those who have reached great heights with their skill and acclaim. If you had a class that did this in the past, track down the textbook or syllabus and re-familiarize yourself. If you have never gone on a quest to expose yourself to the masters of their/your craft, I recommend it. Be careful though, because sometimes looking up to "experts" and "masters" can lead to looking down on yourself. Don't beat yourself up for being where you are. Do get inspired by where you can be by examples from where others have gone.

14.) Go to the theatre, dahrling...

Give yourself the treat of going out for a night at the theater, or to a dance performance. There is something about sitting in a theater witnessing live acting or dancing that t.v. and even movies don't compare to. Dance and theater companies work very hard and could use your support. Keep your eye out for interesting live performances coming through your area. Dress up and bring a date or great friend. Chat about it afterwards in a late night café and make a night out of it.

15.) Your own Inspiration Files

When you do have a lot of great inspiring ideas- write them down! Put them all on one piece of paper and put it in a file. I highly recommend that you make at least 2 files labeled Inspiration- one on your computer and one on your desk. Then anytime an image or article or news online or in a magazine strikes your fancy, you have the perfect place to put it. Then on the days when you really need it, you have your very own personalized well of inspiration to dip into. In fact, you can add this article to your inspiration file and pull out my tips at a time when you could use some ideas of where to get your mojo back.

Author: Audette Sophia is a multidisciplinary artist and certified coach specializing in helping creative entrepreneurs synthesize their offerings into dynamically successful career strategies. She is also an educator and branding/promotional consultant.

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