07 | The Inspiratory System

The idea of the inspiratory system reminds us that inspiration is a lot like breath. The word “inspiration” comes from the same place as respiration and spirit.

Just as we need to take in oxygen to live, we can also breathe in other elements from the world around us to keep ourselves feeling good. And just as different factors can impact the quality of the air we breathe, they can also impact what goes on within us and what we are able to create.

This is not just something that applies to our work, it’s also about the way we express what it means to be alive and what it means to be (and become) ourselves.

Life is a rhythm, and sometimes we lose sight of that. We value action, productivity, and results (breathing out). But unless we balance this with breathing in, we have a perfect recipe for overwhelm, burnout, and a rather uninspired life.

That’s what we’re exploring at in this week’s episode.

The Inspiratory System

What Is Inspiration? | 6:41

We are constantly inspired by the world around us, whether we realise it or not. We take in the spirit of our surroundings and then express it in our own unique way. The life we live is a reflection of the things we see and experience. Whether we are conscious of it or not, everything we encounter shapes who we are and how we see the world.

Paula described inspiration as, “a tickle, or a fizz inside as suddenly my vision of what could be expands and reveals giddy-making opportunity. It’s very vulnerable though and like a new flame can easily be blown out by my own lack of confidence or self-dismissal.”

I love that image. It’s like a fizzing tickle that awakens something inside us. We can suddenly see something through a lens of possibility and light.

Inspiration is an awakening. An awareness. Seeing something for the first time, or seeing it in a certain way for the first time. It requires us to have the receptiveness to be aware, and it requires the conditions that give rise to the possibility.

The inspiratory system is one of inbreath AND outbreath. It completes through action, through a response, through turning what we take in into something we breathe out.

The Makeup Of an Inspired Performance | 8:54

Inspiration is something that comes from within and is expressed outwardly. It’s like a magical power that can transform an ordinary performance into something extraordinary. But inspiration is only visible when it’s turned into action.

You may feel inspired, but if you don’t do anything with that feeling, what does it really mean?

We don’t usually say “I felt inspired but didn’t do anything,” because the feeling of being inspired is intrinsically linked to taking action, even if the action is just to wait.

Tankespjarn and Inspiration | 16:26

Helena Roth talks about a kind of gentleness with an edge to it. She says that it’s our relationship to our own edges that opens us up to new experiences. Tankespjärn happens when we’re willing to say yes to uncertainty and doubt. We find it in the invitation or willingness to experience a shift.

This type of inspiration is not imposed on us from the outside, but rather it ignites within us when a new possibility or perspective is seeded.

The Inspiratory System | 24:59

We can find inspiration in many places: people, media, education, connectedness, place, play, movement, art, and rest. If we are intentional in our relationships with these things, we increase the chances that inspiring conditions will occur.

People | 26:11

The people we interact with can have a big impact on how inspired we feel. Certain people may leave us feeling more energised, while others can drain our spirit. It’s not just about physical energy, but a deeper well of creative energy.

Media | 27:37

We rely on information to keep us connected and informed about the world around us. It can be a source of safety, helping us make positive decisions. But too much of it can leave us feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.

Education | 29:37

Learning for the sake of learning is a deep source of inspiration. Many of us forget that we can keep learning and finding education after we leave formal schooling. Maybe our education is limited to training events we have to attend at work, or qualifications we must do in order to reach another rung on the career ladder. We might stumble upon inspiring ideas within these contexts, but sometimes we come to resent education because it has become something we only do when it has a purpose or productive point to it.

Connectedness | 33:36

There is a peace that comes from feeling connected to something larger than ourselves. For some, this might be a spiritual connection, a sense of community, or oneness with nature. When we step outside our own egos and into something bigger, we can find inspiration and meaning. When we contribute to something beyond our immediate experience, we can create lasting change.

Place | 35:42

Maybe you find inspiration through travel or perhaps you feel most inspired when you have a safe place that feels like yours. Do you get inspired by seeing and engaging with new environments? Or through building your own nest to create or rest in?

Play | 38:49

Play is often the birthplace of some of the best ideas, works of art, and inventions. It allows us to tap into different parts of our brain, take our attention away from thinking too hard, and make connections that we didn’t know were possible.

Movement | 41:00

Movement is an important part of the inspiratory system. Like play, it makes space for inspiration to strike by allowing us to look elsewhere and take a break from looking for it. It is important for our general well-being and the state of our being so we are receptive to new ideas and nudges when they arrive.

Art | 43:13

We have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants. For centuries, humans have used their imaginations to create inspiring works of art in a variety of forms, including music, theatre, film, dance, craft, and literature. By taking in these various forms of art, we can infuse our inspiratory system with a sense of calm.

Rest | 45:46

Although it’s often overlooked, resting is a crucial part of our inspiratory system. Our society’s obsession with productivity and busyness can actually make us less productive and effective at times, especially when it comes at the expense of our wellbeing. When we’re well rested, we’re in a better position to notice and respond to inspiration. Our minds become clearer, and our sense of urgency and busyness slows.

The Wheel of Inspiration | 49:47

Are you curious about the state of your inspiratory system? I’ve created a short exercise to help. And to help shift your mindset into a state of expansion and receptiveness, I’ve also created a short meditation soundscape for each aspect.

The Inspiratory System - How Is Yours Looking Right Now?

The Price of Inspiration | 55:53

Some days it is the search for inspiration that leads us to start creating.

When we give of ourselves more than feels comfortable, it leads us to a sense of meaning. This is because we are inviting sacrifice into our lives – something that goes beyond the quest for comfort. It is an opportunity to contribute, to spend ourselves, and breathe out. In this way, we feel like part of the world and our energy can become a source of life for other people and things.

Action and Inspiration (The Cycle of Breath) | 58:26

Inspiration is a choice we make to listen to the creative voice inside of us. Though it can be uncertain and tiring, this path may lead us to great places.

Like exercise, it takes energy to be creative. And like exercise, it might be tiring in the short term, but the more you spend, the more energy you create in the long run.

Don’t Be a Donkey | 59:24

Buridan’s donkey stands “halfway between a pile of hay and a bucket of water. It keeps looking left and right, trying to decide between hay and water. Unable to decide, it eventually dies of hunger and thirst.

A donkey can’t think of the future. If he could, he’d clearly realize that he could first drink the water, then go eat the hay.”

In his post, Derek Sivers says, “Don’t be a donkey. You can do everything you want to do. You just need foresight and patience.”

The Canvas Strategy (People Remember How You Make Them Feel) | 62:27

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou

I remember how moving it was during my years caring for a close family friend who had dementia. It really highlights the power of the emotional memory bank. We experience this through times of crisis…when we go through a traumatic event with someone, we are more likely to remember how they made us feel rather than the particulars of what they said or did.

This is part of the inspiratory system because when we help others feel good about THEMSELVES, connections are made and inspiration is sparked into life. Let’s focus on making people feel good in themselves and see how that contributes to a more inspired world.

Notice What You Notice | 67:00

During my experience with John, I spoke about it at a TEDx conference. The theme of the event was Look Deeper. Dementia is all about looking deeper – while someone might appear one way on the surface, if you take the time to observe and notice, you can find glimpses of truth. You can find the person there, even when it feels difficult to uncover.

It wasn’t until I was writing my talk that I realised how inspiration comes when we notice what we notice about ourselves, others, and the world around us.

Conclusion | 69:30

Inspiration can come in different forms – sometimes it’s a sudden flash or explosion, while other times it’s a gradual expansion of inner awareness. It’s the voice that gives us something new to look at or a new way of looking at what is already there.

It comes through experimentation, routine, novelty, and connection. It rarely happens in exactly the same way twice and we need to be receptive. Slowing down, resting, and opening ourselves up is all key. Even if we find ourselves inspired by frantic and high-octane experiences, we still need space and stillness to allow that inspiration to integrate and breathe through our lives.

There is no one right way to be inspired. What works for one person may not work for another. But we can be intentional about the sources of inspiration in and around our life and make them work for us.

The Haven | 71:47

It’s the Summer season in The Haven and we look at the themes of Creativity, Tranquility, and Inspiration. We are diving into these areas and asking how we can build healthier, happier, and more connected lives in sync with our natural gentle rhythms as quietly creative misfits.

Learn more here: https://the-haven.co

  1. I loved this! Thank god, education and play were included: they significantly raised my scores for people and places…

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