I often find my self in downward dog, or tree pose, wishing I had a pen and paper, and could somehow make a few notes without losing my balance. Yoga teachers have a tendency to say beautiful things, and as a writer, I have a tendency to take note of good dialogue and save it for later. In class this morning, I was lucky enough to be in a comfortable, seated position when Jay Fields said something beautiful. That certainly made it easier for me to remember, as I could concentrate on her words for a moment without falling over. Even better, she spoke about breath, so it was easy to not lose focus on my breathing. In fact, her words helped me focus.
“Don’t let your inhale be a gasp,” she said, “let it be unsolicited inspiration.” I’d never thought about my breath as inspiration before. Certainly not “unsolicited inspiration.” What a lovely thing to say. Say it out loud. Really. Unsolicited inspiration—diction for the tip of the tongue to dance to.
It is, perhaps, even more lovely to experience than to enunciate. To solicit is to, “approach with a request or plea,” or even to “entice or lure, especially into evil.” Place an un- before a verb and it means to do the opposite or reverse. Something unsolicited is not requested, not enticed. Jay had asked us not to ask for inspiration, but to just let it happen. Inspiration is more difficult to define. I did some digging for a definition that felt accurate. Merriam-Webster makes an attempt: “the action or power of moving the intellect and emotions.” Their definition of the root word is a little more satisfying: “to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence.” That seemed closer. I feel exalted when inspired. Thefreedictionary.com also defines inspiration as “the act of drawing in, especially the inhalation of air into the lungs.”
I have to admit, my heart sank just a bit when I saw this definition, even if it was #6 on the list. Is that what Jay meant? Let your inhale be an unsolicited act of drawing in? That’s much less dramatic, and people like me prefer romance. However, after watching my favorite scene from Barton Fink a few times, and doing some thinking, I realized that the physical definition of inspiration is just as beautiful as the abstract concept. The act of respiration is what allows us to thrive. We take in the outside world through inspiration, we alter it, use what we can, and return what we don’t need. However, what we don’t need is necessary for the trees to photosynthesize and give us the oxygen we depend upon in return.
Breathing then, is like creation. To make art, we take in the outside world, let it mix with our innermost being, change it, and then return it. We give our process and our inspiration, our exalting influence away to be breathed in by others, encouraging a flow of energy and inspiration elsewhere.
Join us Sunday, May 1st from 1-4pm for the Integrity Series with Jay Fields. This month: Breath and Pranayama Basics. Register Today!
What is the Integrity Series like? Learn more here. See you Sunday.