During the course of my life I’ve experienced two events that I will always remember, and I’ve searched hard to try and find people who may have experienced similar, to no avail. Both occurred after I came to university, a time I’d roughly describe as when I began life-improving.
The first event occurred on the 9th of July 2010, at midday. I was on the train to the airport, reading an excerpt from a Richard Dawkins book:- ‘Unweaving the rainbow’ when I stumbled upon a deep paragraph that brought about what I would describe as a ‘sudden realisation’, it had to do with the value of life, and the rarity that we exist at all. Instantly I was sent into a period of ultimate calm lucidity, euphoric happiness overwhelmed me, and I noticed an instant change within my environment. People around me suddenly appeared to be experiencing this aura of ultimate happiness and nothing phased me. I made friends with random people in seconds flat and it was awesome. This lasted approximately 8 hours.
The second occurred several months later, I was reading a forum post on an unknown forum late at night, relating specifically to imagining life as a book in which every new day becomes a new chapter in ones life, where one is the hero, and one can influence the plot as he/her choses. Suddenly my realisation trigger was hit once again, and I went to sleep elated.
When I woke, the euphoric state was still upon me, and as I went about my daily business, I again noticed a much changed reaction from everyone I encountered, generally far more positive, happy and open than usual. Random people approached and talked to me, and no one ever talks to strangers in the UK. This time it lasted around 16 hours from start to completion.
Anywhom, it was tremendous at the time, but I am no longer one to dwell on the past as I have made immense progress in my life improvement. I was just wondering if anyone else has experienced a similar scenario?
Hey Geoff, first of all, welcome to HE!
I haven’t personally experienced something like you did but I’ve read alot about realisations like that and have spoken to many who like you actually experienced them.
They can be triggered in many ways and in a sense it dissolves the boundary between the idea of you and the rest of your experience at that moment. They are supossed to be life changing.
I am definitely jealous! :)
I’ve had a few of thses in my days. A few of them has been really powerfull and some rather mild.
I remember when I had a philosofical disscusion with my old roomate back in the days when I lived in China. We both work towards developing ourselves and think alot, sometimes to much, and ended up having a long philosofical disscussion.
In the end we were just smiling, couldn’t stop smiling actually. The release that both of us got from that discussion resulted in euphoric state. It lasted for about 10-15 hours or so.
What I can remember from haaving thses moments are that they are rare, I feel like I could die right that moment and I wouldn’t regret a thing, just feel super nice.
Some people get ’em some don’t. In the end it’s not really more then a chemical reaction in your brain. As of now I dont really know what it was that triggered it.
Oh, I had one after watching “Into the wild”. The final scene where it sais that life is not living without friends and people around you. (Me being a loner)
Well you is the who.. More and more proof is showing that we are actually nothing more then chemical reactions. The brain is wired in a way that we cannot fully comprehend yet. That’s why the lot of us are experimenting with our thoughts and developing ourselves.
How this comes together I do not know. But I try to stay away from any mystical explination for the phenomena. From my pow its all up there.
The who is nicely explained by Eckhardt Tolle, he talks about the real you. The one who listens to your inner voice. Then real pilot.
Hey Geoff. Welcome!
I’ve had both of my “realisations” in the past 2 months and were awesome. The first one was for 24 hours and it was a consequence of me thinking a lot about nature of reality, about enlightenment and so on. I was in a bus and was looking at people and a chain of thoughts popped up in my mind which ended with the thought “You are already enlightened” and then it hit me. I was speechless. Got off the bus, rested on a bench for 2 minutes and then continued walking to my destination. But I was different, no thoughts in my mind at all, and everything was perfect. My friends seemed perfect, I looked at them and smiled, I picked flowers, I jumped in the park etc. I was totally living in the now.
Second one lasted for about 5 hours and I can’t pinpoint exactly what brought it up (also thinking about nature of reality) but in that period, I was also blissful and I stayed in the rain with no shirt and barefoot and just enjoyed the moment and connecting with people.
Having all this said, I am now at a point where I attribute all of this to different circuits in the brain. There are different areas of the brain that deal with positive and negative emotions (left and right amygdala), with the “self” concept and so on. Persinger did some studies where he could replicate mystical experiences in the laboratory. I’ve also encountered a possible description of the different pathways of the brain corresponding to the different stages of enlightenment that Buddha went through and are described in the spiritual texts. So you could explain these “realisations” as different pathways in the brain. But is the brain that is causing all this or is the brain a symptom of something else? Does the brain exist? Quantum physicists seem to contemplate this fact etc. Everything is relative and it depends on your frame of reference, your belief system. your conditioning.
I spent a while after these events searching for a trigger which I could activate almost like a psychological anchor, but I realised this was me not being present, caught up on a long distant memory I wish to relive, no different from a boy endlessly longing to be a child again.
The human brain has unfathomable scope, a vividly abstract, shapeless canvas twisting off into the depths of infinity, but it is important, for me, to not run away into deep thought or get caught up in memories.
Johannes, would you class a burn on the skin being perceived as ‘not pain, just a chemical reaction’? A chemical reaction it may technically be, but I was aware of it.
Pain is still pain. It’s also fairly easy to track the signals that are sent from, for example your hand to the brain.
It hurts just as much if you understand how the mechanics behind it works. It’s there, nuf said.
There are parts of the brain that contains the “listener”. That’s the thing that is aware. Our limits to what we can be aware of are ruled by laws of nature. We are not aware of ultra violet lights even though they are around us always. So because I’m not aware it shouldn’t really exist? It’s all metaphysics then.
I wasn’t denying that there were chemicals involved, all I was trying to imply is that you can’t deny your own awareness, no matter how much you reduce it in a physicalist way.
Also, it seems to me your are confusing the part of the brain that constructs a model of the world with the awareness that is aware of that model. Because nobody know’s what awareness is, what consciousness is.
I did however read a very interesting article lately on meditation. Normally we have either/or an outer world model working in our brain or an inner. This makes us feel that everything out there is not happening in here and vice versa. Experienced meditators have both active. Everything is one it seems.
Yin and yang is are parts of the circle. They are parts of the whole. There is a whole at the same time that everything is divided into parts. First divide then bring it back to the whole. Let it sink into place. Experience, then meditate on the experience. That’s the key I believe.
I can relate it to training internal martial arts. We’d mix exterior training with interior into one form of training, even more brooken down then Tai Ji. (Look up my teacher in Shanghai, Qian ZhaoHong). The key is to lower the speed to such an extent that your mind is ever present in the action you are perferming. By doing something slow you actually learn faster. At least when it comes to the body control needed in martial arts.
You can do it even slower in the form of Qi Gong, or fast in the form of form or actual fighting. All of this is needed to build on the whole.
Also, it seems to me your are confusing the part of the brain that constructs a model of the world with the awareness that is aware of that model. Because nobody know’s what awareness is, what consciousness is.
No I do not deny my own awareness at all. But it can still be nothing more the a construct. Our awareness is very limited. BUT, it can be expanded. Usually through education, meditation, experiences overall.
You say awareness I say “listener”, the one who listens to all the impulses that we get from the different sensors in our body. Same meaning.
I took it that you implied denying your awareness when you made the statements of ‘we are nothing but chemicals anyway’. If that wasn’t what your implying, then I am sorry :) Rest is just semantics anyway!
Sweet then we’re on the same level. Sometimes my english is not at elaborate as I’d wish. I understand everything but I have a harder time explaining myself. This might be the perfect forum for. Because I do think a lot.
Have a good night everybody (I’m still sticking to my 8 hours)
I get this rather often, and I have mild visual synesthesia at those times too. I find it that it is a similar feeling to how “mushroom afterglow” is described, although I’ve never taken psychedelics. The insight and euphoric feelings stay for about 3-12 hours. I experience this after finding information that I felt really affirms my intuition-based beliefs or when I used to attend a life drawing class (2-3hr sessions). Personally, I suspect I am just bipolar and these are the fun parts of some mania’s effects, so I soak them up and ride the wave. Could be something else, but I still would not have it any other way. I feel like it stretches my soul to a much, much wider experience and appreciation of being able to be a living being in this world.
Absolutely :) It’s like having the chills for an extended period of time! This website is the result of one such realization/euphoric feeling, as are many of the articles on it. It’s been my hope that some of the content on HE could inspire these sensations in the people reading it.
Very stimulating conversation here. I recently watched a video that I think may shed some light on these experiences. Its about a psychology who has invented something called “The God Helmet” in which electro magnetic waves stimulate a part of the right hemisphere and create a feeling of higher existence, euphoria, and of the “presence of other beings.” They hypothesize that this could be what was happening in the brain when prophets in the Bible explained the experiences they had to their followers.. With a different level of stimulation, subjects of the experiment said to have felt “an extreme heat coming from the ground.”
How do you all think this relates to these experiences you have had?
Hi Geoff, I experienced something similar a phew years ago. I remember an overwhelming sense of content, euphoria and that everything made sense. I often find myself trying to recapture the feeling or retrace my thoughts which led to the moment, sadly to no avail. I have two theories, the first being that it’s our brains or minds showing us just a glimmer of their potential. The second, that it’s one of natures rewards. A bit like if we eat well and drink water we have clear skin, if we just push our brains and not succumb to the convenient abandon of personal development and progression that so many others have, we might get to experience such moments.
Hi Jeremy, the video was extremely interesting though I have never felt any correlation between my own experience and any belief in God, and I had no feeling of presence either. Despite this I am open to the idea that it is just a certain area of my brain being stimulated, and feel this would easily support my theories. It would be interesting to know if others related their experiences directly to God or even if they felt the presence mentioned in the clip.
I’m a newbie on here was my first real post, it’s all very exciting stuff :D
the biology of these epiphanies is not well understood. if i had to guess i would say that it is basically a new connection being formed in your brain which allows for enhanced activation of the left prefrontal cortex, where much of our perception of pleasure is thought to occur. the actual insight itself could be the melding of two separate networks, resulting in a stronger overall activation pattern in the brain which, like i said, could provoke a strong stimulation of your pleasure center via the increased connectivity and hence conductance of action potentials.
as far as i know, nobody has had an epiphany whilst in an fmri scanner, so we don’t really know what area is responsible, but logically it should be the prefrontal, which is where all our higher cognitive function takes place. either that or the inferior temporal cortex (near the ear) where language and sound are processed.
they’ve done scans on buddhist monks and some mystics and found thickened cortexes, implying that meditation has some kind of effect on the connectivity of your higher perception areas as well.
dude… that is literally happening to me right now as i speak. I just had the epiphany after a few days of intense therapy. I buried the knife i used to cut with. I’m dancing to happy music with my dogs. and this came out of just the realization that i cant change my past, and that even though i hate it, it has made me who i am.
I completely understand this feeling. All of these experiences have allowed me to take a step back from life in order to realize exactly how wonderful it is. I think that it is this distancing from our own (petty?) identity cues that allows us the sense of freedom and wonder.
I had to write this horrible, DREADFUL essay on awe for philosophy and that’s when I discovered that taking a step back allows us to feel this way. Let me see if I can dig the essay up…
“…awe is a compulsory feeling that is brought about by observation and thoughts in regard to an object or concept separate from oneself.” I was comparing awe to trust at the time, hence the word Compulsory (if that bothers anyone)…Uh oh, I may have been wrong on that point. We CAN think of ourselves in awe, I suppose. But that does seem a little vain. About how amazing our bodies are but that can also be the human body in general. Any thoughts?
Then my professor wanted us to talk about the small twinge of pain and the immense pleasure that comes along with these feelings…”The pain, as we all know, comes from the fact that it is truly impossible for us to comprehend what we are looking at. Our supposed endless imaginations cannot even begin to fathom things such as the expanses of the universe. The pleasure, I believe, does not come from our realization that we can rise up to great power. In all of my experiences with awe, I maintain that the pleasure comes from the joy that such fabulous and unimaginable things exist alongside us. These things can make us feel humble, small, or insignificant, but it brings pleasure to know that we all are part of the same universe (or in the universe, if that’s the thing that is bringing us awe). This is also why I believe that awe has a great power to bring people together. ”
And then juxtaposed with religion and government! “With religion, the two experiences become very central and empowering. Trusting in the unknown becomes faith. Awe from this unknown seems extremely empowering when it comes to religion. This is one of the places where trust and awe mix together. In religion, the trust in the unknown can be awe-inspiring and the awe from the unknown can lead to trust . However, looking at state power, trust and awe do not sit right. Trust becomes very questionable when we are trusting people in positions of very high power . As for awe, the only way I can see someone being awestruck by any form of government was if they highly appreciated the complexity of the systems that run it.”
I figured that was worth sharing!
I really am very new to reading anything about thinking on the net, but somehow came across your post at the top of this thread. I stopped smoking weed after 25 years of daily use, 19 days ago. The first 7 days were dreadful and I experienced what I imagine are the normal withdrawel symptoms. Day 8 seemed to be the turning point. I was crying my eyes out at 4am knowing I had to be at work by 8am. I felt as though the whole world was against me and that I had nobody on the whole planet I could trust. I awoke on Day 8 at 7am and actually felt much better than I thought I would have done. By Day 9 I started feeling unbelievalbly positive. For 15 years I had found it hard to hold a conversation in front of more than one person without screwing up the story or getting far too paranoid about what everyone thought of me. Suddenly this completely lifted. I was suddenly in a circle of friends who were listening to me telling a story. Not a short story but held their attention for ten minutes or more. I remember then feelig that this wouldnt last. The serendipidous occurances that have happened in the last 12 days have been too many to mention. I have quit my job after thinking I had no choice for four yearts. Within three days I have had two job offers that will earn me more than i have earnt in the last four years. My kids are happier, my mum and dad are amazed and Ive saved my relationshiop with my partner of twnety years that was seriously heading into oblivion. I kept thinking and still do on occassions that this cannot last. But sure enough every day is magic. The only two things that I can really put it all down to is stopping cannabis and second, everytime anything makes me think I cant do it, I stop and remind myself that I can.
Hey guys, really interesting discussion. I’m Teemu and I’m a newbie at HE also. I live in Finland where the people are generally skeptical, cynical and slightly negative. Fortunately, I a have found a great people around me (we own a company together). We talk a lot about personal development and different ways to achieve englightenment all the time. The energy just intensifies in a group.
Anyways, I have also had similar experiences described earlier in the conversation. We had a group meditation with my colleagues about our dreams and goals just before, and I left the office to meet a client or something. As I started walking in the streets, I just deliberately went to the feeling of achievement (the usual way) and started smiling and laughing for the good feeling. Suddenly I felt warm vibrations growing from the inside to all my limbs. When it finally reached my brain, the feeling was just amazing – both fysical and mental waves of happiness and harmony stormed through me as I walked ahead. My hearing just faded away, like in a slow-motion film, my sight sharpened enormously (I could see sharply the object that were most furthest in my vision) and my feet just became light as feathers. I felt like I was completely present in the moment and fully aware about everything.
This whole experience lasted just for about 15 minutes, but it definitely left a mark in me. So my take is, like Johann said earlier, this euphoric state started to generate from smiling, laughing and feeling as happy and joyful as you can.
To PW, I first would like to congratulate you on your epiphany. I think it is inspiring that someone who had been trapped in a haze for such a long time can still have the ability to crawl out. Not many people can do that. In reading your post I thought of something I have experienced in my own life… I call it the “Click” and I think it relates to this post quite well.
There have been times where i have been in intense contemplation about something bothering me… and then theres a seemingly effortless, simple “click” in my head that seems to make everything make sense all at once. The reason I call it a click is because it is such a simple, short leap of thought to make. It is like the point at which a roller coaster stops moving upward, and orients downward…. a one degree shift in angle that changes the direction of travel completely.
That ONE SINGLE DEGREE click makes the difference between an uphill battle and a downhill adventure.
After I have a “click” moment, all of the stress and anxiety I felt previous to that point melts away… and I feel as if I can move on.
What do you HEthens think?
This is happening to me right now! And I never want this to end but I definitely feel that im making good use of it. Even as I type my fingers are shaking from this strange, exciting, happiness and it only is making it more intense as I find this is very funny :) I haven’t any idea what triggered this but I think its the combination of becoming excited about starting to take cold showers this following day and having the just for laughs gags playing in the background. All things I’ve done in the past 30 minutes have been with great passion, from helping around the house to trying to get my good friend out of this emotional depression he has been going through for a while now. I’m just attempting to share this happiness to as many people, that I believe, need it more than I. I really felt that I needed to share this experience with my fellow HEthens and see their thoughts on this matter :)