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Everyone has had a moment of pure inspiration. Can you remember how it feels? It can happen when you least expect it — a random encounter with a work of art, a chance remark from a friend that rings a bell in your heart, the reading of a motivational quote, and then inspiration strikes. Whether artistic or educational or professional or spiritual, a lightning bolt flashes, and suddenly you’re profoundly and powerfully inspired. Your mind swirls with possibilities. You imagine how you can turn this exciting inspiration into reality. You hear a song and want to play it, you create a scene in your mind and you’ve got to film it, you mentally construct a new invention and you’re compelled to build it, you see yourself dancing and just have to try it. What a great gift! Inspiration can give us wings. It allows our dreams to become realities. It truly makes this earthly life worth living. So how do we unlock that inspiration? In the previous installment of this series of essays, we took a look at the meditative faculty that exists in every human being; and we saw that a consistent, prayerful meditative practice can help open up the channel of our inspiration, the river of our creativity, the fertile fields of our imagination. The Baha’i writings clearly point out how this approach works:
The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection. Make ye every effort that out of this ideal mine there may gleam forth such pearls of wisdom and utterance as will promote the well-being and harmony of all the kindreds of the earth. – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 72.
Baha’u’llah calls the power of reflection an “ideal mine,” a subterranean repository of crafts, sciences and arts, that we can each freely access if we make a concerted effort to develop our reflective and meditative capacities. Only one caveat — that process rarely happens overnight. Opening up the channel to our inspiration begins when we develop and sustain a regular practice of meditation, prayer and reflection. The consistent nature of a sustained meditative practice makes it work, letting the reflective and prayerful state of the soul gradually seep into your consciousness and make a lasting impact. People who start and successfully maintain a daily spiritual practice soon realize that meditating for a short time each day works much better than trying to meditate for a much longer time once a week. In fact, the Baha’i teachings say:
The wine of renunciation must needs be quaffed, the lofty heights of detachment must needs be attained, and the meditation referred to in the words “One hour’s reflection is preferable to seventy years of pious worship” must needs be observed… – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 237.
Like anything, you get better at it when you practice, when you make it a daily habit. Multiple scientific studies have shown that a consistent practice of meditative inner reflection has multiple physical and mental health benefits, including stress and sleep disorder reduction, building your emotional well-being and increasing the strength of your immune system. But beyond those positive outcomes, true meditation can deepen your understanding of the sacred and mystical forces of life, unblock channels of inspiration and give you increasing levels of access to your innermost being. The Baha’i teachings ask us to pray and meditate daily. That way, Abdu’l-Baha said, we train and educate our own souls:
My prayer for you is that your spiritual faculties and aspirations may daily increase, and that you will never allow the material senses to veil from your eyes the glories of the Heavenly Illumination. – Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 94.