Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Finding Rest Is Essential to Creative Inspiration

From Jeff: Mandy Thompson is guest blogging today. This is a special day, because we’re not talking about the creative process. We’re talking about resting — a necessary discipline for any creative. To connect with Mandy, you can check out her blog, visit her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

In my earliest childhood memory, I tumbled off a swing and landed on my back, pushing all the air out of my little girl lungs.

In a panic over what felt like impending death, I jumped up and sprinted towards my dad. Airless, my lungs lacked the oxygen that my body needed to cross our country lawn, and I passed out.

A few years later, my biology teacher shed light on that scary experience as we studied the process of breathing. In that class I learned the two most important functions of breathing:

  1. Increased Energy: When we take in oxygen, we take in energy that flows throughout our body. We take in a life-giving resource that we can not function without.
  2. Decreased Waste: With this exchange of energy through our bloodstream, carbon-monoxide builds up in our lungs, and we have to get it out by exhaling. If it stays in us, we will be poisoned.

The bottom line? If we aren’t breathing, we aren’t living.

We all know this.

Finding Rest

Our spirits must breathe

In the same way that physical breathing is necessary for our body’s energy and health, so spiritual breathing brings us to a place of inner energy and health.

There are a variety of ways to practice the rhythm of spiritually inhaling and exhaling. We practice spiritual breathing by methods that still our mind and draws our hearts into an awareness of God and of ourselves.

It’s a discipline of focus, which takes intentional withdrawal from noise and distractions.

How spiritual breathing affects us

When we focus on spiritual inhaling, we find ways to deeply and deliberately fill our insides with the things that bring life. Considering this from a place of faith, I better understand the Breath of Life.

In the Bible, this marked the moment of human creation — where Adam was considered alive. And the same is true of us both physically and spiritually. Breath is a source of life for our souls.

Finding Rest

Our souls also need the exhale

Whether this be journaling, confessing, praying, talking or meditating, our spirits must have an outlet.

No matter the method, the goal is to clean out our souls so our creative energy is not distracted by the frustrations of life. We make a deliberate exchange through this exhalation.

Spiritual breathing looks different for everyone

Many people need to be in a physical place that inspires rest: the beach, a mountain cabin, a retreat.

Others steal snippets of spiritual breathing by going on a walk or sit outside with an inspiring book or engage in a moment of silent meditation during a worship service.

The goal is to find what works for your soul, and practice it regularly. Breathe in, and breathe out. Inhale and exhale. When you do this, you will find that your creative energy increases and fresh ideas will come to the surface.

When our bodies are most active, our breathing increases. The same is true of our creative souls. We need to make sure we take time to slow down and catch our breath.

What should you do to slow down and catch your spiritual breath today?

If you need a short, creative getaway, check out Refuge, a three-day sabbatical retreat with a spiritual emphasis. If you use the promo code “GOINS”, you’ll get a discount! Find out more by clicking here.

*Photos courtesy of Mandy Thompson. (Aren’t they awesome? Look her up on Instagram.)

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • I take the weekends off. I might still check Twitter, but I don’t worry about it the way I do during the week. I spend ample amounts of time with my wife and daughter because I know the week is right around the corner.

    Sunday nights are ALWAYS spent on the couch. Every week. Sometimes, when I just sit, some of my most creative ideas are born.

    • well done!

    • Anonymous

      Wow, great self control, Chris!! This sounds a lot like the “No Screen Sunday” that … hmmmm …. someone promotes. Who does this? I can’t remember.

      • Not sure how much self control it is. Might be a little more like what corporate says, goes. FYI corporate is aka my wife. 😉

        • Anonymous

          ha! I like corporate!! 🙂

  • Inhale. Exhale. Give. Take. Exchange. The rhythm of Life. 
    I am constantly ‘hooked-up’ with the grid. By this, I just don’t mean virtually but more with the constant flux of evolution – people’s energy and the continuous force of creation. But I realized, through my dark night of my soul, that I need to log out or sort of emptying out, in order to reboot or be filled again with new fresh energy. I have to detached myself from time to time so I can be connected.

    I wrote about it on the Ralph Waldo Emerson #Trust30 challenge, powered by The Domino Project and it was a fantastic experience for me. Now I deal with my lizard brain, so I am far off from my spiritual breathing. Thanks for a good post. 🙂

    • link?

      • Thanks Mandy. Looks inspiring!
        And Jeff, it’s a journal that found on her website: https://www.sabrinawardharrison.com/books/truequestions.php

        Thanx again for a great site and post! 

    • Anonymous

      Michi, thanks for these thoughts. And I think The Dark Night ties in for sure… I did some of the Trust30 experience as well. It was powerful, wasn’t it? A great centering device for my mornings. Now I’m using The True and The Questions, a journal by Sabrina Ward Harrison. It’s a powerful moment of exhale. You should look it up!

  • Jeff
    Thanks so much for posting Mandy’s guest post – we’re teaming up together with others from our creative tribe here in SouthEast Georgia are hosting the Refuge retreat you mentioned at the bottom of your post.

    I hope people will consider joining us (still hope you can join us too!) — all the details are at https://www.refugessi.com

    Thanks again!

    • i hope i can too!

      • Anonymous

        Bring it!

  • Really like the imagery of ‘spiritual breathing’ and believe that to be true. It’s interesting, tomorrow’s post on my blog is on ‘rest’…maybe we’re all more tired than we think?!

    • MandyThompson

      Coincidence? Probably not, Rob! Thanks for reading.

    • maybe

  • I’ve been thinking about this concept a lot lately, and I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of prayer journaling. As a writer, it is so much easier to focus and articulate my prayers, praises, confessions, requests, when I write it out to God. And an added benefit is that I have it on record. As a teen I prayer-journaled nearly everyday for 5 years and then intermittently through college. It has been amazing to go back and read about what was on my heart and to see the way that God answered those prayers. Thanks for the encouragement! 

    • Anonymous

      This sounds like a great way to get centered & focused, Bethany. And, from your description, it’s clear that you’re passionate about writing. 🙂

  • Excellent writing, Mandy! I enjoyed reading this not just because of the writing chops but also because the ideas are so essential to a high quality of life and personal fulfillment.

    We need to find a peaceful, lively center within ourselves both when we are engaged in activity and when we are at rest.

    Thank you for guest posting and thanks to Jeff for setting it up!


    • Anonymous

      I like the idea of having a peaceful center whether active or at rest. Gosh I’ve gotta figure out how to do that. Hey thanks Peter!

  • Great post! Since I have just recently entered into the blogosphere myself, I’ve found out that it can be quite time-consuming and even addictive. There are moments when you just have to intentionally turn off your computer and walk away. Finding rest doesn’t just happen, you have to make it happen.

    • Anonymous

      Oh Lorena. Blogging is a GREAT outlet for creativity, but it can suck the time away, can’t it? 🙂 Do you know about a web-browser called “Concentrate?” It’ll block whatever urls you tell it to block. It’s a great forced-self-control device for me.

    • It really can be.

  • Great post, Mandy! I love how you connected rest with spiritual breathing. It’s definitely a discipline I’m learning to incorporate more into my life – finding those outlets that get the junk out and that infuse me with creativity and life.

    • Anonymous

      “junk” — that’s a good word for it! 🙂 Thanks Jason.

  • I have been posting much less frequently on my blog the last month, and also spending less time on FB & Twitter. As much as I’ve enjoyed the break, I also find that I’m paranoid that people will forget me. Maybe I need to take breaks more often to gain further perspective. Haha!

    • I worry about this too.

    • Anonymous

      I’m feeling your pain, Melissa. About wanting to take a break. AND about wondering if people will forget… That’s a tough spot to be in. But I’m starting to think that I don’t want to lose my soul in the process. This week I’ve scaled back my blog a significant amount (subtle, but big changes for me). I’m looking for some space to breath.

  • Beautiful pictures and great thoughts.  Running and spending time by the water are the things that seem to help me catch my spiritual breath.  Took a few minutes just this afternoon to go sit by the waterfront for 10 minutes. 

  • I have learned this the hard way the past year. I never had time to rest creatively so I kept pumping out decent work, but nothing I was enjoying or felt great about. This summer I have been working very hard to rest and take time with work. Great post!

  • Anonymous

    I started to do yoga, and meditation.  but I do have a question, When creativity sparks, I just ended up working late and going back to old bad habits, and soon the creativity goes away and I started to be more healthy again… it’s like a never ending cycle, can’t have everything =P

    I guess that’s why it’s good to just hire other people to do the work.

  • Good post here! I’ve noticed that on the days that I’ve rested I’m more creative and can accomplish more. For some reason many of us think we can keep going at full force and keep achieving the same results.

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