I love being inspired. Whether it’s a video of someone overcoming extraordinary challenges, or a story of transformation, whether there are pictures that inspire me to laugh and smile, or the inspiration that comes from simple affirmations pointing me in the right direction.
Inspiration makes me feel good and that’s reason enough for me to seek it out.
However, I know that my love of inspiration runs deeper than that… there are other reasons my Soul is attracted to its pull…
Patanjali, one of the most profound sages of the wisdom traditions, offers this remarkably clear insight on the power of inspiration:
“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties, and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
Patanjali speaks to the heart, the very essence of the meaning of inspiration… to ascend to the highest levels of human potential…to be In-Spirit.
At this level inspiration connects us to our true-self, transcending our ego created self-image; freeing us to express the qualities of the heart…peace, harmony, compassion, happiness, joy and love.
At this level inspiration becomes an invitation to, as Joseph Campbell so famously said, “Follow your bliss.” Actually, when you are inspired, it’s more than an invitation; it sweeps you up in a whirlwind of creative manifestation.
We’ve all had that burst of inspiration…think about the last thing you did…think about any experience you had where you lost track of time… you became so focused and in the moment you “lost” yourself, you merged into the moment and became one with it. That’s the power of inspiration.
Inspiration is multidimensional, it flows from your soul…you experienced it in the subtle world of your mind, and here in the physical world it manifest as a state of “being.”
Understanding inspiration is not “being” it, experiencing it or allowing it to flow into you, it’s not awakening it.
In order to awaken inspiration we must have a conscious desire to do so. This means actively connecting to the feeling and practices that unlock peace, harmony, laughter, joy and love…the practices that are the keys to living an inspired life.
The First Key to Awakening Inspiration and Finding Peace
“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” Mahatma Gandhi
Desire for peace is the foundation upon which all our other desires are built.
Inspirational words indeed!
But how do we find peace within; what trail can we follow?
Scientist and Spiritual teachers alike tell us that our essential nature is peace.
The answer then is connecting to our essence, our sense of wholeness.
Anytime we desire something it is based in our discontentment, dissatisfaction or feelings of constriction, which we hope will be satisfied or dissipated once we succeed in achieving our desire. We’re hoping that by adding the thing we desire we’ll feel complete and that feeling will bring us peace of mind.
In bring awareness to our desires we can establish ourselves in peace so that our desires are experienced as pebble dropping into the pond, creating ripples which quickly dissipate.
To awaken awareness use your imagination and ask yourself, “What is it I desire? How would achieving it make me feel?”
When you imagine achieving your desire, are you feeling fulfilled, do you feel at peace as a result? If you answered yes, then see if you can recreate these feelings of inner contentment independent of people, places, things or event in the “outside” world.
By establishing these independent feelings of inner contentment you are no longer a prisoner to external symbols.
In the quest for peace the question arises, does this mean that you should drop your desires or stop striving to achieve your goals?
Making Peace with Peace
No, absolutely not, just the opposite is true. Whenever peace is our internal reference point we gain greater access to creativity and the energy necessary to accomplish our goals and fulfill our desires.
However, if our experience is one in which we imagine achieving our desire and find that we still have inner feelings of emptiness and discontent we have discovered the eternal truth, that happiness in not found “out there,” by acquiring new things or accomplishing external goals. The “sugar high” of achievement fades away almost as quickly as it arises leaving a vacuum for the next desire to fill.
In the end when we are able to center ourselves in peace then we are able to enjoy the fruits of our desires without the roller coaster ride of emotions that follow the experience of loss and gain.
The Joy of Harmony and Balance
Living an inspired life is living in Harmony, which is the process of aligning all our thoughts and deeds to create a balance between our authentic-higher self, the person we would most like to be, and the way we actually live our life on a daily bases.
What is the key to balancing our need for peace with our desire for success?
Letting go of stress, or more accurately, transcending it. We need to acknowledge that stress is not a “thing” it is a perception.
We can’t “catch” stress, we simply have stressful thoughts. Even though stress is not a “thing” it’s all pervasive in the modern everyday life. For many of us it feels as if there is a never ending list of things to do, from connecting to our social media accounts to endless stream of mindless, mind-numbing tasks that flow in and out throughout our day.
Most are little more than distractions, but they quickly accumulate, adding up creating stress.
Finding harmony and balance is a process of stepping back away from all the distractions and reconnecting to peace, it’s about becoming conscious of your thought process.
There is an axiom that has been around since the time of the Buddha and I suspect long before that, which basically says “you become what you think about.” So, if what you think about creates anxiety and stress, then you need to change the way you’re thinking.
There’s the rub. Life inevitably causes stress, there’s illness, aging, misfortune, accidents and death and we are the only animal that I’m aware off that has the capacity to not only experience this suffering but to remember and relive it or to imagine future possibilities created by it.
In the Eastern wisdom traditions instead of trying to escape life’s stresses, they sought to understand their root causes. These explorers of consciousness discovered five root causes that create suffering, stress and unhappiness.
1.Not knowing who you really are
2.Clinging to the unreal; hanging on to the idea of the changeless in an ever changing world
3.Fear of change
4.Believing that we are our egos, the imaginary self
5.Fear of death
Here are the roots of all unhappiness and stress, that to be alive is to resist change, to live behind the mask of social conditioning and to fear death.
Luckily we need not create another “to do” list in order to transcend these “root causes” and unlock the secret to happiness.
There is only one question to answer: “who am I?”
By experiencing who we really are all stress, unhappiness and suffering will fall away.
But how do we connect to our true identity?
To find the place where our true identity resides we need to go deep inside… to enter the home of lasting happiness.
When you discover the real you, you will awaken to an experience, that’s transpersonal, beyond the limited boundaries of the personal self; you awaken to a connection to the whole of life.
Following along this trail of self-discovery is what nature intended for us so it is not difficult. What is a challenge is that few of us, in this culture were raised to believe that the path to permanent happiness is the path of enlightenment.
Enlightenment may sound mystical and like a distant and lofty achievement only reached by saint and sages. This, however, this is not the case. As I said, it is what nature intended for all us.
Our true nature is that in a universe of never ending change, there is something that never changes. When we experience this constant presence of pure consciousness, then we have arrived at the end of all seeking.
What practices can we involve ourselves in that will allow us to experience enlightenment, the ground state of all creation?
Meditation, discovering inner silence is the method that has been used thousands of years. Meditation brings us into the present moment and at the same time connects us to a deeper awareness.
This is the trail, the path, to enlightenment and to true self-knowledge.
(Note: the practice of meditation is too vast and beyond the scope of this post. Here at “On the Happiness Trail” our desire to provide information about the different methodologies and specific practices that will serve you as you “walk the path.)
Laughter and Love are the final two keys to awaken inspiration cont…