Aha Moments of the Mind: Extend the Impasse
“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment is intuition.” ― Rumi
You don’t have to wait until you’re dead to rest in peace. Just tell your brain to shut up for a moment and in that moment feel what peace is. Aha moments are little droplets of gold, gold that is mined in the place of no mind. People report an intuitively felt “impasse”, a tiny time gap just before the “Aha” realization. “The brain just stalls prior to the “Aha!” is how one client describes this moment of impasse. It’s like a nanosecond when the analytical mind is suspended and in this interruption,latent intelligences are engaged. A light is switched on in our right brain and consciousness floods the darkest corners of our unconscious bodymind. In this enlightened impasse pour forth the fruits of higher, richer and more dependable ways of knowing.
To reach this impasse we must give up the need, the habitual drive to know things. Giving up knowing is not encouraged in our thinking-obsessed society. It has brainwashed us into being constantly in our heads calculating, planning, scheming and worrying. We are never taught or encouraged to be in a still mind, a mind that has surrendered to not knowing. Yet some of the most exciting Aha awakenings germinate in an impasse of glorious ignorance, or we could say innocence, the innocence of “beginner’s mind”. Paradoxically, it is when our individual ego mind admits its ignorance, that we transcend the sense of a personal mind to tap into a transpersonal field of consciousness, an open intelligence, a post-rational way of knowing.
Not knowing means learning to sit and just be. We have lost sight of the fact that we are human beings and it’s much easier to just be than to tie ourselves in knots through thinking, analyzing, striving and stressing. Our culture is so focused on doing, on thinking, on achieving, that we no longer create the space to just “be”. Being, with no thinking, equals simple peace of mind. And when everyday thinking is transcended, creativity can shine through:
‘I learned to sit and allow myself to ‘not know’ the outcome. Giving myself permission to simply be and not achieve anything was actually my real AHA. I simply hadn’t given myself the space to create. (M. O’R., client).
We are so trained like animals to figure things out, get things ‘right’ that we have to “give ourselves permission” to admit to not knowing:
“I learned to sit in silence while allowing myself to not know the outcome. If I just “sit” with questions, often resolutions will appear”. (H.G., client)
Suspending the mind, giving up the pressure to ‘know’ involves a certain degree of trust:
“I went to a place of NOT knowing and trusted”. (L. A., client)
Aha moments of a non-cognitive nature show up in many reports:
“No processing of information is involved. In the moment of the Aha itself, thoughts seem to cease.” (T.H., client)
When we slow down the stream of thought, we can surrender our stories and loosen the chains of our ego:
“More and more do I feel that I am no longer dominated by my ego but from a centre deep within, an intuitive, wise place” (S.H., client)
The next client’s “Aha” moment took him beyond his ego, his “little self” to another level of identity:
“When the aha came, it came from a place beyond my ego, my ‘little self’ and felt like it came from my core, my essence, another order of reality completely”. (S.W., client).
Aha moments that arise in subtle levels of consciousness beyond the rational mind are comparable to those experienced in meditation:
“I’ve only had moments like this in meditation, and after meditating for years.
I felt my energy change and slow when she said this, felt my mind pause before it revved up again. Somewhere in the slowness was an acknowledgement of how often I do this, and the awareness of its link to an old pattern I have of justifying everything before it even happens”. (H.M., client)
‘Somewhere in the slowness’ H.M. experienced her insight. The slowness is a spontaneous impasse that can access unconscious material. Resting in the impasse is a way of unlearning, of unstitching experience so that perceptions and conceptions can all be recognized and renounced. Letting go means handing over the burden of certainty to a higher intelligence – our own inner wisdom or intuition. This is where we experience true knowing because it is gained from first hand experience. It is beyond the ‘knowledge’ of mental concepts with which we have been so thoroughly conditioned:
“My attitude towards things has changed. I KNOW things. I have a certainty. I had to let go of previous perceptions and concepts”. (S.B., client)
K. H. now knows how to activate her intuition and has learned to trust it:
“I am more calm when it comes to solving problems. I do not “push” for solutions, I know they will come. This does not mean I am passive. I understand now what parts of me to activate in order to allow the solution to appear”. (K.H., client).
1. Knowledge is not very important. Take a pause from knowledge and go into ‘don’t know’ mind. Even if it’s only for a few seconds at first, drop everything you think you know about yourself and about the world.
2. Deliberately elongate the impasse. Suspend the thought, delay it, grant it no power, send it packing, keep it dangling. Rest in a space of no mind.
3. Meditate for longer periods, allowing everything to be as it is, with no grasping of any concepts that arise in the mind.
4. Stay in the present moment, totally engaging with only that. ACIM calls it the Holy Instant. Create space for holy instants in your day.
All of these practices will produce Aha moments. The longer the impasse, the more penetrating and transformational the insights are likely to be.