Every once in a while a flash of insight bursts through all the mental clutter in our minds. These so called, “aha moments” can push us to make deep and meaningful changes in our lives from one moment to the next.
An “aha moment” might spur you to move across country, break up with your significant other, stop an addictive behavior, or redirect your moral compass. No matter what your epiphany is, in all cases, they cause to discover something that only moments before you were blind to.
And there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to these moments either. They can come to you while grocery shopping, watching TV, doing laundry, driving to work, or taking a shower.
These insights also tend to feel as if they come from out of nowhere. Many people describe “aha moments” as coming from outside themselves. Meaning they came from a spiritual or Divine intervention.
Spirituality or Science?
Scientists of course believe there is better explanation for aha moments. Over the last 10 years or so neuroscientists have gotten better at simulating epiphanies in the lab and have found that the subconscious mind has a lot to do with when and how “aha moments” show up in our lives.
Even more interesting, they have also determined that there are things we can do in our everyday lives to cultivate aha moments. The strategies I am about to review actually reduce your resistance to” break through” thinking.
5 Ways to Cultivate Aha Moments
Meditation is number 1 because it is actually the best approach for prepping your mind to receive insght and wisdom. Experienced meditators know how to “power down” their frontal cortex which “powers on” the non-deliberate thinking part of the brain. This is what opens your mind up to receiving alternative ways of thinking.
Doing an exercise that does not require concentration and reasoning (like running, walking or biking instead of team sports, obstacle courses, or group fitness classes) primes your brain to experience major insights. This is partly because it allows your brain to marinate in powerful endocannabinoids which help with focus and detachment.
#3 Solve a Koan
A koan is a type of riddle that can only be solved through the insight of your intuitive mind rather than via intellectual logical thinking. This is the type of thinking that can only be gained after you are in a state of calm clarity which can sometimes take years. One neuroscientist describes them as, “an exercise in not knowing.” This helps to open your mind up to alternative ways of thinking.
#4 Write Things Down
Hunches can often transform into “eureka moments” when you allow yourself to marinate on them for a while. One way to do this is to write it down. As you read over them in the future you can begin to mold them into new ideas. Reviewing your hunches in this way will allow you make new observations and discoveries.
#5 Take Action
Many people have hunches but they rarely become aha moments. Often other thoughts drown them out, we don’t take meaning to them, or we fail to act on them. What is really cool is that we can worki on these things. We can listen to and trust ourselves better. Most importantly we can take action even when we can’t see the entire picture yet.
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