When you feel a pang of inspiration, consider it a divine clue. A clue toward a latent talent, a key ingredient to your purpose…a signpost beckoning you, “Psst, over here!”

Whatever inspires you is an aspect of yourself. Any desire of the heart exists to support you in discovering and manifesting it.” ~Debbie Ford

So, roll up your sleeves and get motivated! No, wait, don’t. Motivation entails nose-to-the-grindstone, hard work in a no-mercy, action-oriented kind of way. Inspiration is the reverse. Inspiration takes hold of us and directs us toward our desires.

Inspiration happens when we allow ourselves to be moved by a force that’s more powerful than our ego. We recognize it by how it feels inside. Insistent. Encouraging. A small voice urging us toward stage, toward some far-off destination, toward another. Seemingly nonsensical even, we find ourselves saying yes…because saying no is downright painful!

When we ignore inspiration, we trigger personal discomfort and create a disconnection within ourselves. We’ve resisted the calling to follow our path. We wander off aimlessly instead and try to block our ears to the voice…a voice that reminds us that this life experience is supposed to have meaning. This is the voice of inspiration. Ignore it at your folly.

For any number of reasons we might be resistant when we feel called to create, perform, visit a foreign place, meet someone, express ourselves, help another, or be a part of a cause. Inspiration is a calling to proceed even though we’re unsure of goals or achievements—it may even insist that we go in the direction of uncharted territory.” ~Wayne Dyer

Inspire literally means to fill…to fill others, your lungs, yourself…with the urge or ability to do or feel something. Therefore, inspire does not involve deflating, depressing, or demeaning (others…your lungs…or yourself). The ego entices us to separate, to stand apart and say, “look at me”, but inspiration never separates; it is the liquid gold that unites us and lights up a path to a destination for others to access…through our shining example. Keyword: shining. When we are focused on what inspires us, we feel no need to impress, outshine, or belittle anyone else. We are “on” in the best sense of the word — in-spirit, joyful, and drawn to our personal horticultural masterpiece.

We’re all assigned a piece of the garden, a corner of the universe that is ours to transform.” ~Marianne Williamson

There are times, though, when we feel utterly uninspired and need to reconnect ourselves, clear the cobwebs, part the clouds, and cleanse our spirit to receive these divine messages.

1. Forget what-is. Focusing on undesirable elements of the present is like broadcasting the message, “More of this, please”. When you don’t like the song playing on the radio, do you keep listening or do you change the station? When the food on the plate is not what you ordered, do you eat it anyway? Why would you? Good question…keep asking yourself, ‘why would I?’ When you feel that pull, you envision yourself there…if only for a moment, you imagine. But, what comes next is critical. Do you block the inspirational flow with doubt, rationalization or fear of failure? Or, do you invite it in with the thought, “More of this, please.” When you love yourself, there is no doubt of your worthiness to receive. So, get yourself in the mood. Read an autobiography. Watch the documentary. Go to the show. Learn from. Be inspired by. Take steps in the direction of. Small steps. Symbolic steps. Maybe things only you know about.

2. Find solace in self-care. When you feel disconnected to your physical body, it’s time to stop, drop, and listen. Rest and nurture yourself. Eat grounding foods, with emphasis on high-quality carbs and proteins. Things like oats, sweet potatoes, bison, hummus, protein pancakes. Foods that give you energy and strength while honoring your commitment to a healthy body.

3. Look outside yourself. Nature is the most divine spark of inspiration. Think of the beauty of a sunset, the sound of waves crashing, the smell of pine trees intermingled with ocean air…the chirping of birds, the look in your dog’s eye when you say “wanna go to the park?”, the aroma of oatmeal raisin cookies in the oven… these sounds, sights, scents inspire us by soothing us to our most natural state and reminding us of who we are in the realm of things…lucky to be here.10997104_10205111855549015_1722789785_n

We are afraid to change because we think that, after much effort and sacrifice, we know our present world. And even though that world might not be the best of all worlds and even though we may not be entirely satisfied with it, at least it won’t give us any nasty surprises. We won’t go wrong. When necessary, we will make a few minor adjustments so that everything continues the same. And we say: ‘We want to be like the mountains and the trees. Solid and respectable.’ Even though, during the night, we wake up thinking: ‘I wish I was like the birds, who can visit Damascus and Baghdad and come back whenever they want to.’ What a a life! Nature is telling us: ‘Change!’ And we fear this call. Because we feel safe. But to those who believe that adventures are dangerous, I say, try routine: that kills you far more quickly. ~Paulo Coelho

4. Your rawness is a spark. That is, where you are rough around the edges. The key is to allow these raw feelings inspire you into action. Find the opening…the soft spot in your heart that breaks through the walls and barriers you have built from experiences of pain and feelings of fear.

We train in freeing ourselves from the tyranny of our own reactivity, our own survival mechanisms, our own propensities to be hooked.” ~Pema Chodron

5. Connect others to a higher purposeEncourage vulnerability, diversity, and fresh ideas to elicit others’ talents, commitment, and dedication.

Effective leaders develop a sense of purpose by pursuing goals that align with their personal values and advance the collective good. This allows them to look beyond the status quo to what is possible and gives them a compelling reason to take action despite personal fears and insecurities. Such leaders are seen as authentic and trustworthy because they are willing to take risks in the service of shared goals. By connecting others to a larger purpose, they inspire commitment, boost resolve, and help colleagues find deeper meaning in their work.” ~ Harvard Business Review (Women Rising: The Unseen Barriers)

6. #speakbeautiful. Watch what you say. Out loud and, especially, to yourself. When I’m teaching fitness classes, I observe body language to “hear” the self-talk…my goal is to make it more ‘beautiful’. Because the body will follow. Find ways to speak beautifully while being authentic. Change your perspective to beautiful wherever…how ever much…you can.

speak beautiful –> align with beautiful –> be beautiful –> inspire beautiful

7. Take the vow to awaken so others can. Just as we recognize the importance of not self-denigrating with thoughts like, “I’ll never get it” or “I’m a hopeless cause”, there is shared responsibility to not denigrate others by criticizing their culture, traditions, or beliefs. Bias or bigotry stops inspiration dead in its tracks because you are fixating on things that are not at all “in-spirit”.

If your mind is expansive and unfettered, you will find yourself in a more accommodating world, a place that is endlessly interesting and alive. Genuine freedom comes from going beyond labels and projections, beyond bias and prejudice, and taking care of each other. ~Pema Chodron

8. Stop wasting time on the defensive.

For the warrior, there is no ‘better’ or ‘worse’: everyone has the necessary gifts for his particular path. But certain people insist. They provoke and offend and do everything they can to irritate him. At that point, his heart says: ‘Do not respond to these insults, they will not increase your abilities.’ A warrior of light does not waste his time listening to provocations; he has a destiny to fulfill. ~Paulo Coelho

9. Create inspirational space…in your body. Tight hips affect everything from our ability to lunge to being able to pick something up off the floor.
Opening the hips reduces the load and overuse of the spine. It also creates an energetic shift. Hips are believed to be a storage ground for negative feelings and pent-up emotions, especially ones related to control in our lives. Hip-opening creates space for the birth of new ideas and new pathways, access to freedom in the body and in our own unique expression — creatively, physically, sexually, and spiritually.

10. Dream of dolphins…or better yet, Dolphin Plank! Dolphins are inspirational creatures, reminding us to utilize our gifts to move forward.
Dolphins symbolize intellect, mental attributes and emotional trust. Dolphins also represent our willingness to navigate through emotional waters. To clear the third-eye chakra governing intuition, try this variation of plank. With your elbows on the floor directly under your shoulders, bring your hands into prayer. With strong legs and an engaged belly, think about expanding lower back. Now, imagine that your prayer hands and the third eye are connected by your intention. Keep your focus here for 5–10 breaths.

Do you want to explore INSPIRE further? Click here for quotes, mantras and our willPower dedicated weekly exercise!

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah Ingmanson

Sarah is a studio owner, fitness instructor and competitor. She is a former investment banker and equity research analyst with her MBA from the Wharton School and her MA in International Affairs from the Lauder Institute of the University of Pennsylvania. Sarah is fluent in Japanese and consults with Japanese companies on corporate governance, finance, and investor relations. Sarah's interest in Japan stemmed from her first tour with Disney On Ice as a professional figure skater. For more info on Sarah and her studio, visit www.starslocker.com.