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5 ways to stay inspired yourself when helping others

By Scott Johnson

The world is changing 

It can be hard to feel inspired. The news can constantly concern us. The political world, the climate, our online profiles being used against us… The world we find ourselves in 2019 seems fraught, tense, and it can seem so hard to find anything to hold onto. Anything that keeps us grounded.

The Buddha told us that the truth of life is suffering. It’s testing us now for sure. 

Yet, he also showed us a way out…

So we continue

We continue because we can perhaps see that in every moment the opposite is also true. There are countless, unknowable acts of human kindness happening. People going about their day in ways that unconsciously help others. Yes, there is so much noise. But also under that noise we all have the capacity for goodness. Humans are drawn to interact with each other in an altruistic way. A recent study showed that altruism may even be hardwired. So, with the current state of the world, is it possible that we can connect to the things we cannot see?

For me, this is so important. To know there is so much good beyond the confines of what I know gives me hope. Gives me inspiration. You see, I believe in people and the potential goodness within them. In my role I have to. As a yoga practitioner, teacher and educator, practice and life keeps me on my toes. I aim to be open to inspiration all the time, wherever it comes from. 

Creating space

So, I believe that there is an innate goodness in all of us. It inspires me to think that within us there is the possibility to see the way we can create the world, so that we can create space for others to be inspired. The more I do this work of sharing yoga and contemplative practices, the more I see people who are trying to work out their place in the greater scheme of their lives. To find what they are truly here to contribute. 

As I’ve attested to many times before in previous articles, I see contemplative practices such as yoga and mindfulness as a key to us understanding how we can relate to our lives. How we can move in the world…

We are all creative. We all have a spark in us that allows us to make a difference in our lives. We can be inspired to do better. Be better. 

Finding our breath

To inspire is also to breathe. Inspiration also translates as the in-breath, the natural process that is the flow of our lives. The breathing process. Can we see that as we really fall in to the nature of the breath, the in-breath, we create the conditions in which inspiration actually occurs?

Inspiration is as unique to us as the breath itself. It’s why we are all so unique, so different from each other. Our pursuit as humans is to own that uniqueness, to share ourselves with others who are connected to us by the inspiration that is the collective breath we inhale together. 

The creative process is unique to us all. For example, these words didn’t exist a moment ago, now they do. Each word I have inspired… 

Waking up to life

For me, to be inspired is to find the part of yourself that connects to your life and how it interacts with nature. Whether wonder, awe or something small that offers a break in a pattern, there is a way for us to interrupt our viewpoints and to see that we can be more, do more, wake up more to this life.

So it’s important that we find the way to inspiration. As a teacher at SYL I watch so many people each morning inspire themselves into the day. To turn up each morning, to place a yoga mat in a room in London before 8am, shows that people are up for ways to inspire themselves. It’s a privilege to be invited into people’s lives. Yet, beyond the room or the mat, what else is there? What else can we harness to propel us to live a more inspired life? Below are some ideas, some ways to perhaps find your own moments of inspiration. 

I’d love to hear from you if you have any others to add. 

5 ways to find moments of inspiration

1. Wake up well. Wake up!

We all know that sleep is so important. There have been many studies showing that great sleep is important for us to be healthy and alive. Yet, how we wake is so important too. 

Take a moment before you get up to fully breathe into the day. Take a full breath, an inspiration, and feel it land in your body before rising. Notice how your feet meet the floor as you sit on your bed. Take this time to check in to how you feel as you’re waking up. What the ripple of your sleep pattern is and how it is landing you into the day. 

Then move with as much awareness as you can into the process of getting ready for the day. Perhaps have a proper, formal sit. One that prepares you for what is to come. 

2. Remind yourself why you began your journey to inspire. What inspires you? Be kind to yourself by being yourself

Part of the reason we practise yoga is to remember what it feels like to be alive. To be the ground from which inspiration can form. There are so many layers to our awareness, so many things that hide us from the way we can see our lives. There are many levels of personal intimacy we have perhaps connected to over the years we have been alive that we have forgotten. Remember them. 

When we remember the things that have truly made us come alive, that have stopped us in our tracks, we connect to that part of us that is creative. That relates to the world of sensation. These can be moments of creativity, music or connecting with nature. They are unique to us. For example, a piece of music can still bring me to tears, 25 years after it was released. I love that. I want to share it because it feels deeply personal, yet inspiring. I love being moved by things…

3. Read or study books, blogs and podcasts that inspire you to act ethically and serve others. Think about how you can be that for someone else

When we give time to personal study with the things that help us to come alive, we become alive to ourselves and others. Learning to be inspired is about continually finding the things that inspire us. Content created by others is there for us to fall into. We all have a favourite book, piece of music, film. All are nature. They’ve come from an idea into form, just like this article. 

Studying wisdom is intrinsic to inspiration. The ancient texts of yoga and meditation really help us to see how we can notice the layers of perception in our lives. But more so, there are modern outlets that we can relate to as well. Books and articles that share stories we connect to. Podcasts and interviews that really help us to be inspired by those who have moved before us. Follow links to places that you are guided.

4. Return to nature, turn off gadgets – Remember you are nature

It’s easy to forget. But you are nature. And in nature you thrive… Go for a walk, swim in the sea, lie on the ground and look at the sky. Be bored and be okay with it. Sit quietly and realise your human-ness. Laugh with friends. Play with an animal. Be a child with a child. Stare at someone you love without having to say anything. Get up early and feel the coolness of dawn. Allow the rain to drench you once in a while without caring. Walk on the grass with bare feet. Turn your phone off sometimes. 

5. Find others like you, be challenged by those who aren’t – See change, be different. Be change, see difference

To find others like us is to find people who help us to evolve. I mean this is what friendships are, right? What we’ve been doing since we were small and connecting to like-minded people who interest us. But, over the years in my role as a yoga teacher, I’ve  seen thousands of people come through our morning class at Stillpoint and all of them are connected. Even though they don’t know each other. They’re connected by an idea that we’ve created. Personal practice helps you. They’re connected in the way they turn up and are finding something out about themselves. 

This is really important, because it doesn’t matter who you are. You are met and connected to others who are on the same path as you. And this is really important because then we’re able to hold those same connections when we meet those who challenge us, with our views and the way we live. Because it’s really important we are challenged. We are challenged on our views, our perspectives and the ways we live. This helps us to grow too. 

Going full circle, this is where we find ourselves. We find ourselves in a world of beauty and tension. Can we meet that? We have to… And to do so with a sense of balance and perspective to listen and create change together. 

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