in⋅spi⋅ra⋅tion [in-spuh–rey-shuhn] –noun
1. an inspiring or animating action or influence; 2. Something inspired, as an idea; 3. A result of inspired activity; 4. A thing or person that inspires; 5. Theology a) a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul, b) the divine quality of the writings or words of a person influenced; 6. The drawing of air into the lungs, inhalation; 7. The act of inspiring, quality or state of being inspired
At first glance, the definition of “inspiration” seems almost too shallow: “something inspired,” “the act of inspiring,” or “a result of inspired activity.” Duh- really?!? But it’s the 5th and 6th phrases that begin to show us a little bit more. Let’s start with the 6th.
“The drawing of air into the lungs, inhalation.” Quite literally: breath. Which in turn means life. Inspiration, therefore, is life. It is life-giving and life-enhancing. It is life in all its glory. Dr. Wayne Dyer often refers to inspiration as being “in-spirit,” which also means life. For without our souls, without our spirit giving life to this body, we would cease to exist. Oh, we may be able to “stay alive” in physical form for a while, but without the breath of spirit, it is a half-life. So, that 6th definition seems somehow like it should be bumped up to #1. Without breath, we cease to exist. Inspiration is breath – and so much more.
On to the 5th definition – the theological one: “ a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.” This harkens back to Dr. Dyer’s definition of inspiration, but it walks hand in hand with the idea of inspiration as breath. For when someone is inspired, they seem to carry themselves differently. Have you ever noticed that? Whether it’s inspired at work on a project, or inspired while volunteering, raising children or gardening – a person who is truly walking in inspiration seems, at times, to be floating. They have a lightness about them that we long to be near, to understand, and to attain ourselves. Is this a Divine influence? Absolutely. But the form it took when it came to this inspired person may not have appeared to be Divine on the surface of things.
That is to say: who inspires you? Is it always someone you would call “Divine” – or is it a friend, mentor or colleague? Perhaps it’s an everyday person who you would never associate with the Divine, without thinking about it. This is where it gets tricky, and yet is so simple. Every inspiration we receive is Divinely given – but not always recognized as such. If you are inspired by someone’s actions, those actions are being shown to you in a Divine manner. It’s as if they have an invisible envelope of Divinity around them that somehow brings the message into focus for you, but not others. The actions are the same, but the fact that you were inspired by them is because they were meant for you. That process is Divine.
Now, let’s turn the tables. We can all list people or things that inspire us. But what about the people who are inspired by us? What about our actions, decisions and behaviors that are wrapped in an invisible Divine envelope and sent out to those around us? How often do we stop to think about who we are inspiring with our behaviors and words? Even in life coaching, I have received feedback on things I’ve said that I never would have thought to be “inspirational.” But my words at the time were delivered Divinely to the person hearing them. Why? Because it’s what they needed to hear at that point in their life, to grow and become a better version of themselves. It’s not me – it’s Divine.
I am a messenger. I allow my words to be wrapped in that envelope and carried on the wind to the soul of the individual with whom I am working. Some would call me inspirational – and I am honored, and humbled by that word. If I take it to mean that I am living with breath, in spirit? Then, yes, I am inspirational. If I take it to mean something more – and my ego gets involved – then I am nothing.
So – who inspires you, and why? And whom do you inspire? If not a person, then what inspires you? We all go through our days rarely aware of all the people we touch; and it’s only when we sit down at the end of the day and ask the question that we realize all the people that have touched us. What if we allowed ourselves to be that messenger carrying invisible envelopes, and in so doing, opened ourselves up to the possibility of living an inspired life – in breath, and in spirit? What then?
Perhaps we would pause a little bit more, allowing time for the Divine to speak through us to others, whether we understand it or not. And perhaps in pausing more, we would also open up our ears and our hearts to receive our own little invisible envelopes more regularly. Or perhaps we would just allow ourselves to walk through life a little lighter, a little brighter. Either way, we’d be inspired and inspirational, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Summer is winding down, and it’s time to take stock, before heading into hibernation. Hibernation is a slower time, time to process, release and restore. In preparation for the oncoming rest, here are some initial thoughts, within the general idea of inspiration:
Body – Is there someone in your life who you look up to – who inspires you – to be healthier? What if you honored them by sharing how they have inspired you? Or if you haven’t made changes yet, but would like to – what if you asked them for guidance, support or assistance? Allowing them to inspire you more directly?
Mind – When was the last time you inspired yourself? Truly. It is possible. It comes under the veil of feeling proud of an accomplishment – this veil is just a filter, changing the words from inspiring to proud. Nothing more. When did you last feel proud of yourself for something you’ve done – did it inspire you to do more? Or did you let your mind – and ego – get in the way?
Spirit – Inspiration is all around us – we see it everyday, if we choose to. In order to be inspiring and be inspired, we have to be open to the Divine messages, delivered on the wind, in invisible envelopes. As with everything, take what resonates with you and leave the rest behind. But if you’re closed off to everything, you’re cheating your soul and your spirit of a Divinely-inspired life.
Perhaps on your next walk when you see a flower on the side of the path, or the next visit to a coffee shop, just see if there is one thing that makes your spirit smile. Just one. That’s inspiration. It’s breath. It’s life. You’re on your way!
In love and light,