Springtime is here, and in the Washington, DC area, it is much warmer than usual in these waning winter days. The flowers are bursting out, and trees are popping out their fresh young leaves. I can see things growing by the day, coming to life right in front of me. To me, this is the most inspiring time of year! Everything pulling from the deep winter stores of energy, ready to offer up everything to growing, trusting, becoming. What a beautiful, wonderful unfolding.
And I find myself wanting to grow and express and unfold right alongside the beautiful colors of world around me right now. There are so many possibilities available for getting inspired to express ourselves! Today, I will share with you a few of my favorites, and hope that they will bring some juice and joy to you, and encourage the spark within you to ignite your heart and set your life ablaze with springtime creativity!
Don’t do something, just SIT there!
Find some time every day near your home or work, or some other place where you regularly find yourself. Give yourself a break, even if it is just for five or ten minutes. Go outside, no matter what the weather!! Find a place to sit comfortably – bring your own chair or blanket if that will make it better for you. And then (this is the hardest part for many of us), turn off your phone’s ringer, put away any distracting devices, and just sit there! Look at the sky, the trees, the plants, the insects, the birds. Wherever you are, there is some element of the natural world that you can connect with. And for your promised time, don’t let yourself get caught up in thinking about what you have to do for work, or at home, or chores, or anything. Just breathe. Notice the light in the trees. Feel the wind on your face. Notice the bee buzzing near your ear. If you can, sit in the sunlight, and feel the warmth on your body. Being outside will surely bring you back to the present moment! If it’s raining, no worries! Take an umbrella and enjoy the sounds of raindrops, or the sweet fragrance of the wet air. The longer you do this, particularly if you return to the same place day after day, the more you will notice. And each day, you will feel rejuvenated by this little break!
Grab some colors When was the last time you let yourself color or draw? If you’re like most people, it hasn’t happened too frequently since you left elementary school. So, if you don’t have any, go out to your nearest art store and find some exciting and inspiring colors. They could be colored pencils, markers, crayons, pastels, or paints of any kind. While you’re there, pick up some kind of simple notebook or sketchbook, too. Many times, this is enough on its own for me to feel revved up for doing something creative! Next, find some time in your week – carve this out for yourself, like a date – and just allow yourself the freedom to play. The only rule? Don’t allow yourself to be a critic. Just let the colors play with you, feeling inside yourself what is appealing, what is curious, what is fun. Notice as you are drawing (or painting, etc) if there are certain feelings in your body as you use certain colors. Different colors tend to bring out different feelings within us, and if you listen closely, you may connect with certain colors that you are needing in your life more often. Love swirling yellow around the page? Maybe it’s time to find a scarf or paint your room in that color. Soothed to a serene place by light blue? Find some blue linens for your bedroom. Love that fiery red? Get red underwear or shoes. What you learn about yourself and your inner longings may surprise you. And giving the space to listen for this is really worthwhile.
Music soothes the soul We live in a world that is polluted with so many sounds. As I sit here and write, I hear the clicking of my keyboard, the ticking of the clock, and a chainsaw buzzing away in the distance. All in all, it seems like a quiet afternoon. But most days, we are bombarded with an assortment of voices, noise from highways, the sounds of various kinds of machines working away, televisions and radios, phones ringing and beeping, and more… and often to combat these sounds, we are confronted with an extra layer of noises, meant to counteract the dominance of the noises we don’t consciously choose. Stores play music, sometimes interspersed with advertisements, and our minds are filled. The noise of horns blaring and crews working during rush hour make us crazy, so we turn up the radio. Or we turn on the stereo or mp3 player and tune out the world, finding some choice in the midst of all the chaos. I personally find all these sounds layered upon each other to be overwhelming, and long for escape.
As a musician, I have spent my life exploring sound, and growing in my understanding of what creates a beautiful balance between sound and silence. This is certainly the path of many musicians, especially a classical musician. Often, in a world filled with noise, it is challenging to find enough space and silence to listen inside and connect with our inner worlds where inspiration can flourish. But in my experience, there is nothing like music to bring us into a space of inspiration, soul connection, and deep peace. So, spend some time exploring what you enjoy. iTunes is such a wonderful resource for this, as is Pandora Radio! Maybe you’d enjoy some salsa music to get your feet whirling and twirling around the room. Maybe some gentle, relaxing music would allow you the space to rest and would leave you feeling rejuvenated. Have you ever tried chanting? Mantras from the yoga tradition can create an incredible sense of connection to your inner world, and to Spirit. Classical music offers such a vast array of styles and sounds. Try listening to some of the J.S. Bach acapella choral music for sublime peace, or to Gregorian chants. Or, if you can find an event near you, enjoy a music meditation or sound healing journey. This has become the newest part of my own musical path, and it is amazing to see the ways that music can open the body, mind, and spirit to experience tremendous peace and joy.
Fire and drum There are few things that bring together people in a space of play and inspiration like fire. Call together a few friends, get out the drums, rattles, and other small percussion instruments, and allow the flow of the fire to create magic! Fire has been used in rituals and ceremonies for thousands of years to create sacred space, and offers such a powerful connection to the imagination. Drumming and rattling, too, have been powerful tools in meditative connection to the self, and to altered states of consciousness and other realms. By coming together to create this kind of space, we are offered a chance to ask ourselves deep questions, and the rhythmic flow keeps our own inner flow moving. Prepare your intention or questions before the fire and drum circle, and as you are with your community and beginning to drum, open yourself to listen to all the abundant guidance and inspiration that comes your way.
The Artist’s Way If you are longing for a focused time of creative inner exploration and want to take getting inspired to the next level, I offer my highest recommendation to the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book offers a well-planned process of inner work, questions, creative play, meditation, and inspirational guidance, all structured over a twelve week program. It takes deep commitment to your own “creative recovery” but the process is totally worth it! If you allow yourself the space to really take advantage of what Cameron guides you to do, you will have tremendous revelations about your own past, you will discover blocks in your thinking and creativity, you will work to uncover your true self, and you will emerge in a state of incredible renewal after the twelve weeks are finished. The first time I did this program, I uncovered my own deep desire to write, and by the end of the book, had applied to graduate school to pursue writing!
There are thousands of ways to find inspiration. The key, as I see it, is giving yourself the space to self-connect, listen, and explore. And many times, trusting that desire to self-connect and claiming some time for yourself is the obstacle that must be confronted. Each of these above suggestions have brought wonderful inspiration and creativity to my life. I hope that they will inspire you, too!