When Inspiration Leaves…7 Things I Don’t Recommend Doing.

Via Waylon Lewis
on Feb 22, 2011
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Lately, I’ve been depressed. Not badly depressed, but beat.

Difficulty breathing, living, being happy. I’m sad all the time.

Usually my work is, for me, the same thing as my Buddhist path, or just about—it’s self-cutting, I’m always learning, inspired—but even work, lately, has felt like a heavy weight. I’m a sad boy.

But work is relentless—the emails pile up, unhappy authors have sharp questions, new writers have confused questions, I have meetings re conferences and my dog wants to get out and walk and run around. My mortgage comes around quickly, and I’m sleeping on couch cushions in my own, half empty home.

So how do I find inspiration?

1. Read inspirational quotes

2. Push through; Force myself to get with it

3. Exercise more

4. Focus on work to exclusion of all else

5. Vacation—get away

6. Drink more, party, find some joy.

7. Eat too much (pizza, ice cream) / don’t eat anything

All this conventional stuff is fine, and some of it might help quite a lot (like exercise).

But I don’t personally, particularly recommend any of the above.

My Buddhist training tells me to deal with the underlying emotions and confusion, first. So I practice meditation, more. I give up on work, instead of forcing myself to do it, if only for an hour or two, and get out in the sun with my dog. I take a bath. And another bath. I see community at a cafe, where I work day after day, and they lift and open me up a bit. If I’m lucky, I find a good friend who speaks hard loving truths and I cry on his or her shoulder. I haven’t been so lucky, yet, but like a lake welling up against a brittle dam, I can feel it coming.

So, yes, I’m writing this for myself, from a place of depression or sadness. But this isn’t about self-pity. That doesn’t help. It’s about finding a way to go on, and do work, when work is impatient and yet you or I don’t have the drive or joy to hit the tennis ball back.

PS: this isn’t a cry for sympathy.


About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | His first book, Things I would like to do with You, is now available.


29 Responses to “When Inspiration Leaves…7 Things I Don’t Recommend Doing.”

  1. Kim Roberts says:

    It's don season Waylon…just remember that. and if it is any consolation….I think we are all going through some version of this right now. I just posted a similar thing on my blog yesterday.. .http://papayayoga.wordpress.com

    I don't know if you need sympathy, but you deserve love, so here is some. xx

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Waylon Lewis, Red Fox. Red Fox said: When Inspiration Leaves…7 Things I Don’t Recommend Doing. http://bit.ly/i0wjKU […]

  3. Keith says:

    Great post, Waylon. I know that territory myself. As a freelance writer, teacher of Kung Fu, (sometimes) Buddhist, and owner of a happy little doggie, motivation begins and ends with me, which is great most of the time, except when there is no motivation. Without a boss (or a wife), my old way of motivating myself was to just lay on more discipline. And it worked, until it didn't. Then i had to do the hardest thing of all: find compassion for myself. To remember that I do all these things because, at the end of the day, I enjoy them. In fact I can't imagine not doing them, but at the same time, I need to be a good boss to me. Give myself rewards, days off, trips to go skiing and, most importantly, walks with my dog. I know Redford would agree.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Oh, he does. He's saved me last few days, dragging me out into sunshine with all his whining yelping energy..! ~ W.

  5. Kristie says:

    Waylon, this post came at just the right time for me as I am right there with you. I appreciate your recognition that conventional wisdom, while it may perk us up, does not always address the heart of the matter. Thanks so much for putting in to words what I was instinctively needing to do but resisting because some voice some where in my past was pushing me to. Much love and empathy to you! Namaste!

  6. Pretty honest of you Waylon, loved the post… I relate too, been feeling "it" (winter blues?) whatever it is lately …

  7. […] blow, then the winds change. My state of mind isn’t a static situation. I get happy and sad (Waylon Lewis gets sad, too.). Real […]

  8. helene_rose says:

    Wonderful words of the heart….I can relate…was feeling "it" too as Claudia mentioned. I reiki-ed my girls and myself a whole bunch for the last few days and we're smilin' again. Hugs!

  9. ARCreated says:

    that's when I go for a LOOOONG ride on the motorcycle…as the saying goes "this too shall pass" …. thanks for sharing it helps me sometimes just to know I'm not the only one! !

  10. Kristin Vigil says:

    Wow, Waylon, for once I can hear your cry and relate to it entirely. Lately life has been anything but inspirational. I am a Special Ed TA and have put forth many years guiding, teaching and building kids with "special" problems. As a Buddhist, I feel it is the one thing I know I can do to lessen the suffering of others. But, here I am. Amidst my own suffering, and wondering if I should just shut up and keep moving on or acknowledge it and rethink the path I am on. On top of everything, these last 4 days I have been transitioning from a very happy and well educated omnivore (I come from a grass fed dairy/ranch in Wisconsin}, to a complete plant based diet. I feel like the world is crumbling around me. How much more can a wife and mother of 3 daughters handle at one time and possibly make any changes to the world around her??? Ugh. Some wise people say that you can not change the world until you change "your" world. Is that all there is?? Selfish = guilt. I used to write for pleasure. Now I write IEP"s and RTI"s and logs on kids.

  11. Chelsea says:

    Bare-naked truth is beautiful, Waylon. Your heartfelt honesty came through more so in this post than any other I've read from you. Kinda brought on one of those Avatar "I see you" moments. Really touching, thank you.

  12. Thanks for sharing, Way. I can feel it too – so individually and in unity we all make choices about how to get beyond/through the periods of suffering. My yoga practice today will be dedicated to staying positive and inspired.

  13. April says:

    Beautifully honest and open. Thank you for sharing. I suffer from depression myself and it's nice to see that others on "the path" are finding ways to really utilize the tools they teach to navigate through the darker waters of their minds. May peace quickly find you!

  14. […] When Inspiration Leaves […]

  15. perfectingmotherhood says:

    It must be that time of the year, or maybe that time in the world, where everything feels out of place for many of us. Not everything feels screwed up, but doesn't feel quite right. Many of us have been going through transitions in the past few years, with the changing job marketplace, economy, world instability. I think it will take a little effort, or maybe a leap of faith from all of us, to put things back on track. I'm ready to help! http://perfectingmotherhood.wordpress.com

  16. elephantjournal says:

    Thanks, Chelsea. But part of the solidity, or wisdom of the depression and pain and stress is that I feel like I deserve it, and have to listen to it, and learn from it. I mean…I don't really deserve sympathy, right now..! ~ Waylon

  17. Atalwin says:

    Dear Waylon, thank you for your post. Although we haven't met we recently interacted as I proposed to start as a writer for 'ele'. In response of your post I wrote this: http://basicgoodness.com/2011/it-is-not-about-the….

    Here is an excerpt:

    "I gained another cool insight from reading his post. It probably wasn’t Waylon’s best written article ever, no beautiful language, no skillful stylistic features. But it was raw and real, coming from a painful but very sincere place. Not only did I like it but for the first time I understood why the more raw posts I have written myself were received so well (like Self-Therapy for example, very similar to Waylon’s post actually). I never understood that before, felt even a bit embarrassed that I wrote from such a stuck place, not offering any ‘wisdom’. Reading Waylon’s post made me feel sympathetic towards him, gave me something to resonate with, to identify with, made me feel appreciated as a listener. His post gave me permission to be human."

    Thank you.

  18. yoga-adan says:

    meditation, or some form of it anyway, seems to have been working best for me too, letting the feeling of sadness "be" within me; past experience tells me it will assimilate, then "seem" to dissapate, though i suspect it will simply be another part of me

    i did have some great pizza yesterday though 😉 but with some welcome family faces 😉

  19. […] Read inspirational quotes. I got this one from Waylon who was actually going through his own dance with the blues a few days ago, and I found the quotes recommended by him inspiring, I also have my own set of yoga quotes that […]

  20. Bodil says:

    Give yourself 10 minutes today to try something new… Look up EFT on youtube, watch, learn and do what they do.. just do it! and see if something shifts. Thoughts and emotions are energy, sometimes stuck, entangled or moving backwards. Through this strangely simple technique you will very possibly find relief, and with that – a new perspective. Love & compassion


  21. Elizabeth W. says:

    Thank Goodness for our Dogs!

    I get emptiness and overwhelmed at the same time. I get that from your piece. I see it was written awhile back, so I hope a shift has transpired.

    Balance, homeostastis, those stars I forever reach for and end up getting a kink in my neck for having done…and having to fork out money, stressing me out more, to support the wonderful healers in my community!

    Then I look at the abundance I have in my life. In some areas more than others.

    You write of having very little. I have so much crap around me…I wonder if I should call the “Almost Could be a Hoarder Show.” Or is it crap? Am I comfortable? Is it some outside ideal that others are forcing on me that is making me feel not quite right? Like I should be a vegetarian or only buy made in America?
    Or is the health department coming in?! (I really want that punctuation that combines the two…the exclaquestion… mark…questamation point)
    Is the emptiness a spiritual goal…or an imposition of a societal Mind, or a personal interpretation…Instead of a Legend in our own minds, we are Lacking in our own Mind.
    I found I am bombing at the one class I really enjoy. Is it self flagell..ah crap…whipping my self? Or I may have to live up to more if I succeed?
    Or as a woman, a mother, I am supposed to have the neat house, the kids that look good, and be involved,…with society…a partner.
    So if you want to borrow my clutter, have the kids trash your pad, and walk my dogs, so I can maybe…finally get off my butt and study the atomic anatomy of the world around us. Let me know! 😀

    As the moon shines in the darkness…the shadow covers the sun.

  22. adriana says:

    thank you for normalizing this feeling that most if not all we humans have at one time or another. I’m conflicted at this time as well. and these words offer me some companionship. so again thank you