Perhaps the most priceless moments of our lives are when we get the big “aha!”—when we hear for the first time a radical truth that allows us to experience and be in the world in a completely new and freer way. For me, it’s the ultimate high.
Halfway through my second decade at Sounds True, I’ve listened to hundreds of hours of teachings, and with each season’s offerings I am always excited about the next “aha” that might be around the corner. Here are a few of my favorites from over the years:
1. The universe is big, and I am old.
Scientists estimate that our universe includes a trillion galaxies. (That’s 1,000,000,000,000 if you’re into zeroes.) Depending on which way you look at the night sky, the light reaching your eyes may have been traveling for millions of years … completing a journey that began long before any of our opposable-thumb-blessed ancestors decided to trade the treetops for caves. Even more astounding is the fact that the cosmic dust in the form of the “you” perceiving that light is even older—as ancient as the universe itself, or an estimated 20 billion years old. Remember that the next time you get one of those “over the hill” birthday cards. (I encountered these “aha” moments while listening to Brian Swimme’s classic audio program Canticle to the Cosmos.)
2. I can change my mind…and my brain.
Many Sounds True programs talk about our beautiful and mysterious brains, from how much we’ve learned in the past twenty-plus years to how little we may really understand about this amazing organ. I’ve lost track of the “aha” moments I’ve enjoyed listening to teachers like Dr. Rick Hanson, whose practice of “taking in the good” can literally rewire our neural pathways to help us experience more joy and less stress — or to Dr. Kelly McGonigal, with her empowering wisdom on making changes in alignment with our values — or Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose mindfulness meditations for pain relief have helped me manage migraine headaches.
3. The heart knows best and we’re all in this together. For me, the teachings of Jack Kornfield are like rich nutrients and cool, clean water for the soil of the garden of the heart. Although we might think of “aha” moments as a mental phenomenon, the heart can certainly have its share of “aha” moments that leave one utterly speechless. Jack’s program The Jewel of Liberation has many such moments, reminding us of our fundamental interconnection and our boundless capacity for love, wisdom, and compassion.
Maybe the essence of spiritual awakening is the “aha” moment—or whatever it is that we experience that finally and utterly shifts our perspective beyond any individual limits once and for all. Do you have any memorable “aha” moments you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them!