a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
I love epiphanies. Or revelations. Aha moments. Whatever you want to call them. For those of us who prize meaning making, personal growth, self discovery, and transformation, epiphanies are valuable currency.
So how come they can be so difficult to capture?
They’re skittish little creatures. They bolt when things are chaotic. They hide when we call them too loudly. They disappear just as we’re about to grab them.
Most epiphanies are quiet and gentle, not bold flashes out of the blue. Perhaps they’ll show up as faint urges, hunches, or curiosities. Often they have a dreamlike quality. And they require listening and nurturing, because they come from a deep and visceral place within our psyches.
They arrive as whispers, not shouts. But oh, how we want the SHOUT!
Yes. Many people have told me over the years: “I WANT the lightening bolt.” (Not literally, of course). So in our work together we explore what it means to make space to hear the whisper.
Here are seven ways to do that.
- CREATE. During mask workshops it’s incredible to watch the change that comes over people as they pick up and begin to glue down the first parts of their masks. Their faces go all serene and composed. And random creation*, especially if it involves getting out of your head and into a sensory experience, will soften you up for epiphanies.
- MUSIC. How often do you simply listen to music, letting it fill you up, without doing anything else? Music zooms us into our right brains. But it only works if we stop multi-tasking our way through it.
- WATER. When you’re near water, on water, or in water, your unconscious perks up and responds to its vastness, its unknowable qualities. I personally favor the ocean because it takes me to an infinite place within.
- PLAY. Go to a playground and swing for ten minutes. The power of this always astonishes me.
- NATURE. Even looking at a tree for five minutes makes a difference. It’s true! And if you can get seriously into BIG nature, even better.
- RETREAT. Solo is good. A day. A week. Whatever you can manage. Very Important: travel light and keep it simple.
- DREAMS. I mean the sleeping kind of dreams. Yup, they’re important. They speak the language of our souls. They speak in riddles, imagery, and metaphor. The biggest mistake we make is to take them literally. Scratch beneath the surface and they just might present you with a nicely wrapped epiphany. (I’ll write more in the coming weeks about a dream seminar I’m going to attend).
I laugh a little when I look at this list, because my most recent epiphany came when I was on retreat, surrounded by nature, staring at the water (seaside), thinking about one of my dreams, listening to music, with time to create a drawing. No wonder it was a doozie! Actually, it was the culmination of a string of smaller epiphanies that I’d logged during the past year. And for now I’m keeping it under wraps, nurturing it, bringing it along.
That’s a truth I’ve learned about epiphanies. Sometimes we need to baby them and protect them. Get them past their fragile states. Then we can let them out into the world.
How about you? How do you make space for epiphanies? Or if you’re so inclined, what have been your most important epiphanies?
(*When I talk about random creation above, I mean creation with no boundaries or particular intent. An example from my own life is collage: randomly pulling and pasting images that speak to me on a gut level – without fully knowing why – is very different from creating a treasure map or vision board, where I’m starting with a specific intent or goal. If you’re interested in the idea of random creation, check out Chris Zydel’s website: Creative Juices Arts. She teaches classes in painting “without concern for the results,” which “develops greater trust in your intuition, expands your sense of freedom and possibility, and gives you a way to fearlessly explore unknown aspects of yourself.” I’ve not yet taken one of her classes, but I want to one day. Chris also has a blog.)
WHY NOT START NOW?