Just the other day, I heard the word “inspired” in a whole new way. One of my coaching clients, who has a big bold vision to change the world in a wonderful way, was telling me he had felt blocked in his flow and so started reading other people’s work for “inspiration.”
The word “inspire” originally comes from two Latin roots in + spiritos. It literally and simply means to be immersed in spirit, to be immersed in the divine – to be immersed in the true creative source in which everything fresh, and new, and brilliant, and authentic arises. The word spiritus also became the root of spirare, to breathe.
In my new book, Radical Brilliance, I make the distinction between two kinds of thought.
Horizontal thoughts are like bubbles floating to the surface on the pond.
One bubble can generate another. This is how most thoughts are, we hear something, we read something, we see something on social media, we store it in memory and it generates other similar thoughts within us. Almost all thoughts arise in this way, they are essentially recycled, regurgitations of what we heard from somebody else. All too often, sadly, we use the word “inspiration,” to refer to this process of borrowing and regurgitating.
In the book, I also suggest another kind of thought, which we could call vertical thoughts.
This is like a bubble that begins at the very depth of the pond and slowly rises up from those depths to emerge on the surface. This is like a thought that has never been thought before. It rises out of stillness, out of emptiness, it has no precedent. It is this kind of thought that becomes Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, or original breakthroughs in music, or science, or social innovation. It is these kinds of thoughts that are boldly generated out of the question: “Who says?” “Who says it has to be that way?”
Vertical thoughts are completely disruptive to the status quo, and to everything we have come to begrudgingly accept as normal.
Truly original creative thoughts – thoughts that have never been thought before – cannot draw their energy from other thoughts. They are born from an infinite creative source beyond the mind, which is, essentially, mysterious. You could call it infinite consciousness, you could call it “God,” you could call it “the Divine,” or you could call it “spirit.” True, original, creative impulses, the kind that come not from you but through you, can only emerge when you are “in spirit” – when you are inspired.
When I coach people, I often tell them that the most important part of the coaching is daily practice. For sure, my clients can meet me on Zoom once a week for a scheduled call. For sure, they can read books and go to seminars. But the only thing that really seems to make a difference in the long term is repeated steady practice, or discipline.
I encourage my clients to wake up at least one hour before the dawn, then to take some nootropic substances (like Qualia) with lemon water, to become fully awake, and then to sit with eyes closed, not moving, for 30-40 minutes. After this, I ask my clients to find a way to move energy through their body: which could be by dancing to music, or by practicing “Qi Gong.”
All of this, is simply so you can be fully ready and “inspired” for that magical moment when the sun first shows above the horizon. That is absolutely the best time of the day to channel inspiration into new creative impulses that can become thoughts you never thought before, words you have never spoken before, and actions you have never taken before.
This is how we evolve. For these kind of original thoughts to arise, you must first make sure that you are inspired, that you are fully immersed in spirit. That takes some discipline and practice. But the rest is pure magic.