Inspiration, Motivation & Actualization.
This week we have a triple theme. My schedule has been crazy lately, as schedules will be, and that’s just how life goes sometimes. But that door swings both ways and it works out very well today as these themes are great when discussed separately, but an entirely new understanding can be had by joining them together.
These themes are Inspiration, Motivation & Actualization.
Inspiration is where we’ll begin and it’s best if we define it before we discuss its place in yoga and our lives. Inspiration, in its most simple form, is the process of being mentally stimulated to do something. It’s very closely associated with creativity and also with divinity, to the degree that being inspired is nearly always considered to be important, is something that we hold dear, like a gift, and are thankful for. Inspiration is nearly always positive in nature.
Inspiration is also the act of drawing in, as in a drawing in of breath.
When we consider these meanings and associations, it’s no wonder that the words “inspire” and “inspiration” are so often used in marketing. But, as with so many other things these days, the words can get lost in overuse and noise, so it’s nice to touch ground every now and again to remember what real inspiration feels like and there is no better place to start than with the breath.
I talk a lot about those quiet places during a practice or at other points during the day when you can truly hear yourself. It’s during these times that I think about what inspires me and remember past inspirations. The act of parallel breathing (inhaling and exhaling for the same amount of time) is nicely calming as you let your mind and your feelings explore those ideas and experiences that lift you up and fill you with creativity and energy. It’s important to let these things in. It’s equally important to recognize if things do not inspire you—a lot is asked of us on any given day and there are many things that we need to do, but that doesn’t mean that we have to pretend that they inspire us. Always keep your inspiration pure and you will avoid a great deal of confusion in life. Especially on those days that you are searching for inspiration!
Remembering past inspirations is helpful when looking for new ones, but the act alone of remembering past inspirations can be cathartic and keep you grounded.
Inspiration, when it’s real, can be pure energy and an open door to happiness. It’s important, so make sure to protect it.
Motivation is the reason behind our actions. It’s the idea before the act—the thought before the motion. Motivation does not have to be well thought out, but it can be, and that’s one reason it’s different than inspiration. Motivation speaks to the general desire and willingness we possess to do something, and that’s important to remember.
Motivation is something that we can reason through. We can use logic to find it and reason to analyze what it means to us.
Just as with inspiration, though, it is best if truly comes from a positive place in us—motivation toward something that you do not agree with or do not want to do will result in you spinning your wheels. How deep those wheels sink into the muck of life depends on how long you choose to keep deceiving yourself over what you care about.
And that’s a point where these themes cross; when you consider your motives, do they come from inspiration? Or, did they originate from another source? All motivations can’t come from inspiration—the rent does have to be paid. But, in many of life’s tough decisions, inspiration is always good to consider and compare next to motivation. If you are inspired and motivated to do something, chances are better that it will turn out well for you.
To actualize something is to do it—to turn a dream or a thought into action. And before you do anything, taking a moment to consider why you are doing it is never a bad idea. Even the simple stuff can benefit from a moment’s reflection. You know that brushing your teeth is good for you, but these days it’s hard to determine whether it’s for the whitening effect, the sparkly-fresh breath or the simple goal of health. And the answer needs to always be the goal of health. The other things are fine, but to get carried away with one makes it easy to neglect another, often leaving the first and important purpose somewhere on the shelf, forgotten. And that’s not good, as one day your sparkly-fresh, blindingly-white teeth might get a cavity because proper attention wasn’t being paid to the important stuff.
Another thing to consider here is that you can keep inspiration and motivation to yourself, but once you’ve committed actualization, you can’t take it back. That’s why it is so important to remember your inspirations, compare them to your motivations and ask if they need to be actualized.
If you are true to yourself, the answer will be “no” as often as it is “yes” and that’s as it should be.
Consider the idea of actualizing an inspiration without the benefit of considering what your motive is. Or how easy it is to fool yourself by using a false motive that would have been easily identified if you asked yourself if you were truly inspired by the idea of it.
But when you let these things work together, just like a number of poses that compliment each other, the results are almost always wonderful!
Inspiration. Motivation. Actualization.
In conjunction, these three things can keep you whole, happy and focused in the right direction.