When Inspiration Strikes at 3 a.m… Heed the Call


Editor’s Note: The views and opinions expressed in all commentary submissions to the ICSEW’s InterAct blog are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the ICSEW.
By Jane Chapman, ICSEW Vice Chair
Sleep is very important to me. It’s almost become a core value, so when my eyes fly open and I become aware I’ve been creating a really inspiring motivational speech or planning a stupendous new idea for a project —at 3 .a.m., I begrudgingly pull my back off the mattress– ‘cause I know sleep is useless.
I get up because I risk losing the momentum of the force at work if I don’t heed the call. I also know that no matter how convinced I am that I can recall this when I wake up and jot it down – it’s a lie. Clearly, my only option is to throw back the covers, grab my glasses, robe and slippers, fire up my computer and coffee maker and let it flow while the dam is broke.
Will I regret this later in the day? Nope. I’ve had enough of these moments of brilliance to know that inspiration and creativity released is fuel for the next 15 hours. Call it divine inspiration, mental clarity. Or menopause, I’ll take it. Bliss time. Quiet. Uninterrupted.
Like Samuel*, waking several times in the night to the sound of his name called, finally realizing he was receiving a message from the divine it took a while for me to figure it out. Inspiration can only be heard in the stillness that the cover of night can bring in my current life circumstances.

Brain Dump

What to do if it isn’t divine inspiration, but anxiety and overwhelm?
Do a brain dump. It’s a great tool to use every morning, or if you do this, right before meditation. I even keep a pen and paper handy while meditating to jot down an idea, an errand I need to take care of, a phone call… and then return to my meditation. Meditation is a quiet space for calming the mind. It creates space for listening instead of talking and thinking.
One night I opened my eyes at 2 a.m. with a laundry list of things I needed to do staring me in the face. The list was daunting and my heart was pounding. I had triggered my own flight or fight response and my body was ready for action. As soon as I realized that going back to sleep was not going to happen, I got up, grabbed a pen and my bullet journal and just wrote everything down until nothing more came to mind. I put boxes next to the to-do’s and dates next to each item of when I would do them. Once the brain dump was exhausted, I took a long deep breath in, exhaled and let it go. I climbed back into bed and slept soundly the remainder of the night.

Creatures of Habit

According to lecturer, researcher, author and educator Dr. Joe Dispenza, brain science says that 90% of what we do each day is habit, or unconscious programming – the things we learned and accepted as truth while we were growing up.  Only in the other 10% of our day do we have moments of clarity, creativity, imagination, and vision. If we don’t heed the call, we are just creatures of habit, letting life happen to us. Abraham Lincoln said “The best way to know the future is to create it”, in other words, we are not victims – and we have to tap into that 10% working for us to fulfill our dreams.

Steps to break free from unconscious programming:

  1. Break the Routine. Take a different way to work. Try new restaurants. Sit in a different spot in the conference room. Take a walk on your breaks. Don’t eat at your desk. You get the idea. Routines are awesome. They bring peace out of chaos and help us function way better than we could without them. However, shaking it up a little can create new pathways in our mind and keep us present in the moment.
  2. Limit Social Media exposure. Remove it from your phone. Only look at it for an hour in the evening. Allow yourself a retreat away from SM for a weekend, a week, or a month.

If firing down your SM sites sounds scary or impossible… hold space for that feeling. By that I mean, experience it, feel it. Move through it. Realize that you can self-regulate, you have the tools. Not having access to it through the day means less mindless scrolling and more opportunity to be aware and present in your day. Try going off SM on your day off and see how it feels. Jot down every time you felt compelled to connect. Was it stressful? Was it peaceful?

  1. Keep a pad and pen near your bed, or available in a location that won’t disrupt anyone else’s sleep.

I prefer analog when it comes to calendars, planners, lists, notes. I wrap all those into a bullet journal. A bullet journal is an analog system that helps you track the past, organize the present and plan for the future. They have an index where you enter page numbers, dates, and topic. Each page/entry is the next meeting, list, notes, etc and includes sections for month/week/day.
Grab your journal, notepad or Bullet journal when inspiration strikes, to do a brain dump, journal your ideas; meditate, carve out time to create. Use the tools that help bring peace and power into our lives.
Allow for inspiration, creativity, and brilliance. You are amazing! I’m incredibly proud of you!
*1 Samuel 3:7-11  Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.