What inspires you? How do you find inspiration? How do you create inspiration when you need it? Is that even possible? Have you ever contemplated where inspiration comes from?
We generally associate the meaning of the word inspiration and the word inspire, as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” Both of these words also mean, “to breathe in.” Being inspired is also described as a state of flow.
Have you ever had an experience where time seemed to slow down or stop? Have you experienced being so engaged in something that five hours seemed like five minutes? These experiences are typical of the flow state of consciousness. When does this happen for you? How often? What were you doing when it happened?
Creativity is one of the most highly valued skills in business and in life. How do we tap into this essential resource within ourselves? Some of the answers to this question come from research being conducted about the flow state.
Flow is defined as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” It is often described as being in the zone. The Flow state emerged from initial research done by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Much of the research into the flow state today is being conducted through the Flow Research Collective headed by human performance expert, Steven Kotler.
Inspiration and flow show up in fascinating ways in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual dimensions of our being.
Dimensions of Inspiration
In the physical dimension, when you are inspired or in flow, your brain and nervous system releases several performance enhancing hormones. Like Norepinephrine and Dopamine to enhance focus. Endorphins are released that help you work longer without discomfort. The hormone anandamide is released that stimulates insights. And serotonin, the feel-good hormone.
Some of the characteristics of the flow state demonstrate the same characteristics of the experience of being in predominately theta brainwave state:
- the sense of action and awareness merging
- the sense of self disappears and the inner critic
- an altered perception of time
Another element of the mental dimension of inspiration is a positive mindset.
Emotional elements of inspiration and flow include curiosity, awe, wonder, joy, resilience openness. An experience feels easy, effortless and automatic. Being in flow or inspired is in itself rewarding.
In the spiritual dimension, inspiration often appears as divine guidance. It is an experience that comes directly from or touches your soul. This kind of experience is often spontaneous, arising in the present moment. And often when your mind is occupied by something else.
Someone who inspires us is someone who is living a higher purpose. Think of Mother Teresa or Martin Luther King.
Is it possible to induce a flow state for when we need it? Research has discovered several triggers that can stimulate a flow state. These come from an article from the Flow Research collective called “How to Induce Flow” by Clare Sarah Goodridge
- Passion and Purpose
- Autonomy – personal freedom and independence
- Complete Concentration
- Risk-taking – mental or physical
- Novelty – Being open to new experiences
- Complexity – something that requires deep focus and concentration
- Unpredictability and Surprise
- Deep Embodiment – focusing with your whole body
- Immediate Feedback
- Clear Goals
- Challenge/Skill Ratio – a task that is slightly more difficult than your comfort zone.
- Pattern Recognition – a trigger for creative thinking
Here is a link to her article if you want to find out more: https://www.flowresearchcollective.com/blog/how-induce-flow-state
Having space in your life for some of these triggers will help you to tap into the flow state and inspiration on a more regular basis.
Join me for next week’s blog where I will share ways to use sound and music to create fertile ground for inspiration.
In Health and Harmony,