Tag Archives: Elliott Woods

Inspired 052816

Art in Action is a weekly post: a simple, practical guide to applying the ideas and principles in the Focus Pocus posts to your body and life. As always, I love to hear from you about how you use them and how you translate the ideas into action.

It’s no coincidence that in English, the word inspiration means both the intake of breath and intake of energy to do something. We might call the first “inspiration-with-a-small-i” and the second “Inspiration-with-a-big-I.”

Interestingly, how we get one is often how we get the other. When we are breathing deeply, we are often on the receiving end of spirit. Of course, part of the thing about breath and spirit is that what takes your breath away and inspires you to action is personal and unique.* And if you’re feeling a little beige around the edges and looking for an influx of inspiration (of either kind), here are some places that I like to go.

1. Nature ~

There is nothing like being outside, seeing the sky and everything growing in it to remind me to breathe and to allow myself to be energized and inspired. When my brain feels scrambled or blah, when I’m feeling down or anxious, going outside is one of the best ways to get me back on my feet and in my heart. Whether I’m in a city or in a forest, feeling the expansiveness of the natural world that exists around all human construction opens my lungs, my heart, and my imagination.

2. Stillness ~

Spending time in conscious stillness is an invaluable way to drop into what I’m experiencing in the moment and also expanding into a broader perspective. Often when I sit, I’ll start by following my breath (I sometimes say “In” and “Out” to myself to really connect with the sound and feel of each breath) and making light mental notes about what I’m feeling in my physical body (“tension in throat,” “tightness in heart,” “aching in ankle,” etc.). Once I’m grounded in the direct experience of the moment, I imagine my peripheral vision (even with my eyes closed) expanding and allow myself to observe my experience with interest but without attachment. I’ll often get caught in thought or planning but as soon as I notice it, I gently bring myself back. Sometimes I get insights or ideas and sometimes I don’t, but always I feel more connected to my breath and what’s actually happening.

3. Art ~

Spending time with provocative and interesting works of art is something that can literally make me catch my breath and be inspired by what people create. For me, watching an excellent film (we just enjoyed Mud the other night), or looking at beautiful photography, or listening to music can change the way I see the world and myself. “Art” may be different for you – perhaps a beautifully designed building, or a typeface, a garden or a fishing lure. Whatever it is that opens your eyes to the creative source that comes through human beings, spend some time with that.

4. People Who Rock ~

Get curious about the people whose work you admire. Read a biography, watch a biopic or listen to an interview. Beware the voices that tell you that some people are creative and inspired and some people aren’t. That’s what we’ve been taught but it’s bull hockey (and actually just a way to hide). Everybody has their own strain of creative genius. Celebrate the people who inspire you, share their work, and then take a breath and get busy being inspired.

* What inspires you? I’ve listed my go-to inspirations but there are as many examples as there are people. I’d love to hear what takes your breath away and gets your heart beating. Jump in to the comment section below or email me at I look forward to connecting with you.

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