“… a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight,
recognition, or comprehension.”
~ The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of an Aha Moment
When my husband and I still lived in Iowa, in the town we had both occupied since birth, my husband would sometimes call me from the business we owned. He’d be speaking in a rush, with a “need-to-know-now” intensity in his voice. It might go something like this:
Him: “Laurie, what’s the name of the woman with dark hair and squinty eyes?”
Me: “I’m not sure who you’re talking about.”
Him: “Oh, come on, you know! Her husband drives a pickup truck and only wears blue shirts.”
Me: “Yeah! I think I can picture her. Didn’t their daughter move to California right after graduation? Or maybe it was their son.”
Him: “I don’t know, but I just waited on her at the Cleaners and she obviously knows me so I was embarrassed to ask her for her name. I think they used to live in that brick house out on the edge of town.”
Me: “They did! Remember when the ice storm hit a few years ago and they lost that beautiful oak in their front yard? Sorry, I still can’t think of her name.”
And so, the conversation might go on for several minutes with neither of us remembering what we tried so hard to recollect. Then later in the day I would call him back and say, “Sally Anderson! I remembered!” And he’d be like, “Yeah, I already got it.” But the joy and relief of having this tiny bit of information float to the surface was so wonderful! It felt like an aha moment.
The yoga aha moment is the ability to exist in an entirely liberated state, free of impressions and desires, entanglement, emotion and judgment.
Over the last several weeks, I have written about the Eight Limbs of Yoga, as taught by Patanjali, an ancient yoga sage. The Eight Limbs are simply a guide for living as one small piece of the whole, in a peaceful and contributing manner. The Yamas and Niyamas are the first two of the Limbs and somewhat resemble the 10 Commandments in Christian teachings, beginning with non-harming and non-stealing; truthfulness, contentment, and surrendering to a higher power. The third limb is asana, or the yoga poses, and the fourth limb is pranayama, breath control. The fifth of the eight limbs is pratyahara, or withdrawing from outside influences and distraction. This pathway, constructed by Patanjali, leads to the last of the eight limbs, Dharana (focused concentration), Dhyana (meditative absorption), and finally Samadhi (bliss).
For my husband and I, coming up with a customer’s name was a lesson in Dharana, the sixth of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. By eliminating all the unnecessary information, we were able to tighten the lens on the answer to our riddle and finally come up with the elusive information. But mind chatter gains volume when we are under pressure or stressed. Our thoughts are strewn in broken segments of unnecessary information. Think of it like separating out all the marshmallows in a bowl of Lucky Charms. The sad and soggy cereal just gets in the way of the colorful marshmallow charms, which are the ultimate object of our desire.
Next is the seventh limb of yoga called Dhyana, or meditative absorption. If we’re still with the cereal comparison, then Dhyana is bringing your attention to just one, pink marshmallow left in the bowl. You might take your focus so intently to that one morsel of sugar that all the others have faded into obscurity. You are no longer aware of the bowl, or the surface it rests on. You don’t feel the weight of the spoon in your hand, and the feeling of hunger has dissipated.
The eighth and final Limb of Patanjali’s yoga sutras awaits like the name of a customer that sits on the tip of your tongue and teases your brain. Samadhi is the aha moment. Samadhi is the state of being when we are able to see without disturbances or distractions. Our experience is no longer affected by likes or dislikes or habits or judgment or attachment. We eat that one, small pellet of cereal… well actually, if we are truly enlightened we have moved away from Lucky Charms and are dining on organic, handpicked berries, and natural spring water because it’s fuel for our bodies not entertainment for the tongue. But the yoga aha moment is the ability to exist in an entirely liberated state, free of impressions and desires, entanglement, emotion and judgment. The taste for sugar evaporates. The obfuscation of embarrassment no longer exists and the mind is unblemished and lucid. Aha!
Unfortunately, enlightenment is not eternal. It must be practiced regularly and nurtured daily. But the path to living peacefully in a world of respectful oneness is worthwhile. It takes compassion and truthfulness, a good stretch, calming breath, the ability to withdraw from the obstacles around you, focus, and concentration. When the light of clarity is powered on, the aha moment illuminates and we are unstuck and burden-free.