Where Do The Ideas Come From?

I’m a yoga practitioner. And although prana may be the most valuable force of all from a yogi’s-eye-view, it doesn’t pay the bills.

Or should I say—it does. As a writer and writing teacher, I traffic in ideas. I need them like I need food and water—as do many other creative professionals. If ideas are no-show’s, my work is a no-go.

Ironically, it’s making space to tend to my prana, to shift body and mind into a meditative and open state that gets the ideas flowing.

Here’s where my daily pre-dawn yoga practice helps…inestimably.

My best ideas are often “downloaded”—arriving more or less fully-hatched—between roughly 5AM and 7AM, somewhere between the inhale and exhale. Incidentally, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, this same block of time is ruled by the Large Intestine, the hour for “making something.” During practice, I often go straight from urdhva dhanurasana to the sacrilegious pen-in-notebook-asana. I have suspicions about why this shower of grace comes so regularly:

1. I’m not expecting anything. It’s not the time for anything in particular to happen. In fact, it’s the time for nothing to happen.
2. I’m breathing—deeper and longer. Breath has the triple functions of making inner space, letting go of what’s no longer needed and connecting us to all of life.
3. I’m moving my body. No collapse over computer or notebook to inhibit full-body insights.
4. My mind is stable, but not static, because of the sustained focus required for practice.
5. The Idea pipes are not yet clogged with thought gunk.
6. My only job is to show up.
7. When I indicate to my subconscious by practicing yogasana what I care about, my ideas are more likely to reflect that.
8. I am not TRYING. And I’m not TRYING to be NOT TRYING.
9. I am fundamentally willing not to grasp at what arises. The best ideas do not need to be grasped—they sit there patiently, laid out like a yoga mat.
10. And…note well, on any day that I do expect an idea, based on track record of general success above: RADIO SILENCE. Blank. Delivery canceled. Which can also be nice.

The lesson here, I think, is that (no surprise) an idea comes from a whole person, not a fanatical idea-stalking mind. When the whole person is connected to this bigger picture of life force (prana) and life rhythm (breath, movement), the receptive field is wider and less personal. Then, the invitation is that much bigger and more relaxed for a compelling idea to arrive and take root, or for creative mind to hit a homer.

This works for me, but I am always looking. Where do your best ideas come from?

Sara Nolan, to read more of Sara’s writing, click here ; to find out about her new business, helping teens find inspiration for college essays, click here.

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