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Fearless Living: Finding inspiration in unexpected places

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We can’t always hop on a plane to a distant land in search of inspiration. The reality is that we are where we are. We have work, and family, and responsibilities. So what is a fearless adventurer to do at home?

Create a beautiful reality. I have been working tirelessly since my return from Turkey to stay inspired by the sights and sounds and smells of my trip, and by the awesome strangers that I met and connected with.

The truth is, there is so much beauty to be found and so many strangers to connect with right here at home. However, my demon brain tries to insert the “but” and wrestle my positivity to the ground.

“You’ve tried that,” it might say. Or “you’ve been down this road a million times, what’s left to explore?” Or, of course, “you’re busy, and tired!”

My creative mind says otherwise. I know that I can see my very own neighborhood, the place I’ve lived in for 17 years, with totally fresh eyes. I know I can notice about a million things on my two-block walk to the park that I’ve never, ever seen before. I know I can carve out time in my schedule to try new things, to appreciate and explore my own environment, my own family.

But, and there is a but: it takes practice, and commitment. It takes focus and the ability to continually press “reset” when the bored, tired mind tries to creep in and steal the show.

I meditate to try to stay focused. I have my little tray filled with many favorite objects, with candles and a statue of the Bhodisattva in repose, with an incense tray that holds many favorite aromatic sticks of various types.

I light the candles in the morning, and burn some incense, and I sit, often, on a cushion in front of it. Lately, I am listening to “396 hz” on YouTube, “galactic mandala meditation music” that is tuned to a frequency that turns grief and fear into joy.

Grief and fear are the biggest barriers to inspiration, I’ve found. They are paralyzing in their power, unless we tune to a different frequency and create barriers and boundaries that put the paralyzing duo in their place.

In the work I’ve been doing at the Park Slope Women’s Shelter, I find that drumming together brings great joy. Even though these women have suffered mightily, and have many reasons to despair, they sit down with me and work hard to visualize and explore the ways in which they might find space for joy, and expression. They need it, and they know it. It is so heartwarming to work with them, and to hear their honest stories of what they are fighting against to be there in that seat, to join in and work toward feeling good, if even for an hour. They inspire me. If they can do it, why can’t I?

Choices can be challenging too. I spoke recently on my “Talking to Strangers” podcast to the executives of nonprofit Musicambia, which brings music into prisons.

Nathan Schram, the founder, spoke of how enlightened the men they’ve worked with at Sing Sing are.

Their choices are limited, and to maintain any inspiration in this place they have been forced to go within, to explore possibilities in their minds, to wander fantastically through their own thoughts and visions.

To be inspired is a daily choice, wherever we are. It is an outlook, born from our brain, and so we must work to train our brains with whatever creative tools we can to look at the world around us anew and with great enthusiasm. Gold star for trying.

Updated 7:57 am, May 20, 2019
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