A flash of insight

Have you had an epiphany so shocking you actually said out loud, “Aha!”? Recently, I had an “Aha!” moment about “Aha!” moments. “Aha!” moments are flashes of insight or enlightenment when a deeper understanding or solution to a vexing problem seems to falls into place through sudden insight.

“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage.”

— Immanuel Kant, German idealist philosopher

Have you had an epiphany so shocking you actually said out loud, “Aha!”? Recently, I had an “Aha!” moment about “Aha!” moments. “Aha!” moments are flashes of insight or enlightenment when a deeper understanding or solution to a vexing problem seems to falls into place through sudden insight. This particular moment came to me following a conversation with my mother about gardening. She’d called to say she had just planted her 60th garden.

I recalled the care Mom devoted to every aspect of her gardening endeavour: from preparing the soil, selecting the seeds and planting, to daily watering, tending and even covering delicate seedlings with blankets when the temperature dropped and frost threatened.

Neighbours would invariably comment on the size, quality and quantity of Mom’s yearly vegetable crop, saying she must have been born with a green thumb. Mom would just smile, knowing the results only happened because of a huge investment of time and energy.

It occurred to me that ”Aha!” moments were not necessarily the result of insights drawn from the ether, but rather the result of carefully preparing the soil of our minds for growth.

Research now suggests that “Aha!” moments are often preceded by brain patterns that be-gin long before the act of receiving the insight – sometimes even before a problem is presented. This suggests that how a person is thinking before problem-solving begins may be just as important as the kind of thinking involved in reaching the solution. Putting your mind into a positive and receptive state appears to prime the pump for insights and integrations.

Here’s what scientists have discovered: as we approach an “Aha!” moment, our attention tends to be focused inwardly. In order to switch to a new train of thought, extraneous thoughts must first be silenced. To facilitate this, the brain momentarily reduces visual input. This produces an effect similar to closing your eyes or looking away – physical tricks we often unconsciously employ to help ideas or solutions emerge into conscious awareness.

Just as soil can be prepared in anticipation for a bountiful harvest, heightened awareness can be nurtured and cultivated by fostering curiosity, creativity and introspection in your life. By actively seeking to enhance the level of your self-esteem and self-awareness, you’re planting healthy and hardy ideas that can someday grow into enlightened thoughts.

Once you’ve prepared the soil and the seeds of self-esteem have been planted, you begin the growth cycle. However, before a bumper crop can be harvested, countless hours of hard work must precede it. As with the garden, your mind requires the right conditions to produce results. You can help create those conditions by reading, watching and listening to material that supports your growth, challenging perceived limitations and old ways of thinking, and cultivating friendships with people who are on a similar life path. What sustains you on this transformative path? What keeps you moving forward when the ground seems barren or when you’re tempted to settle for a familiar and comfortable stopping point?

More than anything, perseverance and a strong and abiding belief in yourself will keep you on purpose and moving forward.

Keep in mind, each moment of enlightenment is purely subjective. What prompts you to burst into bloom may have little or no relevance to someone else. For you, it could be some-thing as simple as seeing a baby take its first steps. For me, watching the sunrise on a new and glorious day. For another, a hug or word of encouragement when it is most needed. The important thing is to recognize these little moments of magic when they arrive for you. Acknowledge them, seize them and take them to heart. Each is a blessing. The fruits of your labour – gift of the harvest.

I have been journaling for years and recommend to everyone that they write down their “Aha!” moments. I have committed many such moments to paper over the years. When I look back over the captured moments, I often see a positive change in the direction of my life.

My mother used to tell me that the harder you work, the more bountiful the harvest. Even in years when growing conditions were less than favorable, mother’s haul to the vegetable room was always impressive. How hard are you willing to work for an insightful life?

“I call it an Aha! Moment,” writes American author and entrepreneur Sharon E. Rainey. “It is the moment when I can hear, when I know, that an answer is being offered to me. All other sounds measurably fade including the banter in my brain. It is when the answer travels from my heart to my head and says, ‘This is so.’” No questions follow, no objections interrupt. Just the recognition that I must listen and follow.”

Growth and transformation happen all the time — they’re aspects of both nature and human nature. Good seeds (as in good thoughts) and a rich and fertile mind are the ideal medium for “Aha!” moments. By accepting responsibility for your personal growth, you increase the potential for insightful experiences and deeper understanding in your life.

Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His recent book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca.

Just Posted

The Sylvan Lake Gulls celebrate a sixth inning home run from Nolan Weger on Sunday during a game against the Edmonton Prospects. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Historic opening weekend for Sylvan Lake Gulls

It wasn’t perfect, but perhaps that was the beauty of it. Fans… Continue reading

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Alberta reports 100 new cases of COVID-19

The Central zone sits at 218 active cases

Three Hills RCMP recovered stolen copper wire during recent investigation near Kneehill. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Fatal ATV rollover near Innisfail Saturday

A 77-year-old man from Red Deer County died Saturday after an ATV… Continue reading

Firefighters and emergency services workers helped celebrate Barry Young’s 85th birthday at Timberstone Mews on May 29. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Firefighters in central Alberta make birthdays special

A fire truck arriving outside your house is not normally good news.… Continue reading

A view of Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park is shown in this undated handout photo. More Canadians are expected to leave their passports at home this summer and hit the road in Canada as the weak loonie and low gas prices prompt a deeper exploration of their own country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Travel Alberta *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Report: Alberta losing residents to other parts of Canada

As the COVID-19 pandemic slowly winds down in Alberta, residents are continuing… Continue reading

A large number of supporters were out Saturday at a rally intended to bring awareness about including Hinduism in the grade 2 portion of the K-6 draft curriculum. As it stands now, Hinduism won’t be taught until grade 6 in the proposed draft curriculum. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Video: Rally to support adding Hinduism to draft curriculum draws crowd in Red Deer

The Hindu community in Red Deer came out in droves on Saturday… Continue reading

Orange shirts, shoes, flowers and messages are displayed on the steps outside the legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 following a ceremony hosted by the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations in honour of the 215 residential school children whose remains have been discovered buried near the facility in Kamloops, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

City of St. Albert says that the are where the display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

Germany's Robin Gosens, left, celebrates Germany's Mats Hummels after scoring his side's fourth goal during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group F match between Portugal and Germany at the football arena stadium in Munich, Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Matthias Hangst/Pool Photo via AP)
Germany clicks at Euro 2020 with 4-2 win over Portugal

MUNICH (AP) — Germany finally clicked into gear at the European Championship,… Continue reading

Fans cheer on their team during the pre-game warmup of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal with the Montreal Canadiens facing the Vegas Golden Knights, in Montreal, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
COVID-19 concerns give way to Habs Fever in Quebec as Montreal continues playoff run

MONTREAL — The sun hadn’t yet risen in Montreal on Friday morning… Continue reading

Coronavirus cases are on the rise from India to South Africa and Mexico, in a May 19, 2020 story. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
As Brazil tops 500,000 deaths, protests against president

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Anti-government protesters took to the streets in… Continue reading

A black bear cub forages for food along a salmon stream below a bear viewing spot for tourists in the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area in Juneau, Alaska.  (File photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Bandit responsible for vehicle break-ins is a black bear

THORNTON, N.H. (AP) — Surveillance video helped police get to the bottom… Continue reading

FILE - In this April 25, 2019 file photo, Editor Rick Hutzell, center, gives a speech to his staff including Chase Cook, Nicki Catterlin, Rachael Pacella, Selene San Felice and Danielle Ohl at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md. The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won a special Pulitzer Prize citation for its coverage and courage in the face of a massacre in its newsroom, is leaving the Maryland newspaper. Hutzell, who worked at the Annapolis paper for more than three decades, authored a farewell column that was published on the paper's website Saturday, June 19, 2021. (Ulysses Muoz/The Baltimore Sun via AP)
Editor of paper that endured newsroom shooting says goodbye

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — The editor of the Capital Gazette, which won… Continue reading

Most Read