We reap so many benefits from regular, ongoing practice. It’s good to pause occasionally, take a good look back to see how far we have come and to appreciate how yoga can tend to work on us in a gradual way, quietly shifting our perception over time, smoothing out rough edges.
At the same time, for many of us it’s also the occasional unexpected AHA moment(s) that keep us returning to the path. These Aha experiences or epiphanies can take different forms: a sudden letting go of secretly held tension in the body, or a flash of insight into reality (oh, NOW I get it!); a spontaneous uprising of love and compassion, or an opening into a space of deep peace or delight.
These moments have always intrigued me. In fact, my years of study in asana, meditation, and especially yoga philosophy have largely been motivated by a need to understand this type of experience.
One thing I know for sure is that I am not the only one to inquire in this way. In the sublime text called the Shiva Sutra, which dates back to around 850 ce we are told: vismayo yogabhumikah! The progressive stages of yoga are filled with great wonder and astonishment.
While, granted, the sutras speak to intense levels of inner practice and experience, even so I believe we can see in our AHA momentary openings or insights at least an echo of what the Shiva Sutra speaks about.
But here’s a fundamental question: Why is it that these experiences seen to be by their very nature, moments only, not hours or days? I mean, who ever heard of an Aha Year? It seems, well, unfair.
There is so much to be said, too much to go into here, but for starters I will say that it’s clear to me that while yoga is actually designed to be a catalyst for the apparently spontaneous Aha experience, it is up to us to learn how to pull on the thread, as it were, of our insights so that the sweet, powerful, awe-inspiring, or wondrous quality of such moments begin to pervade our moment-by-moment experience.
There are various time-tested ways to do this.
If you are interested in hearing more, keep in touch as I will be writing further on this topic and examining it from different angles in pretty well all the events I’ll be offering in the next while.
In the meantime, I recommend you take time to consider your own moments of insight and expansion, past and present. Cherish them, look into them closely, see what happens as you nourish them in this way.
The stages of yoga are full of wonder.