I was sitting in my garden when I said ‘yes’. I felt completely at peace for the first time in years and experienced a deep knowing that all would be well. The moment was fleeting but I seemed to see with a newly found clarity that comes from a change in perspective.
I’ve thought about this moment many times, never understanding why I agreed to go into treatment at that moment and not others. I came to believe that I had experienced a moment of grace but that still didn’t explain this mystery. This has generally been OK with me. I just accepted that it happened, attributed it to my as yet unidentified Higher Power in waiting, and have been forever after grateful for the experience.
I was doing some online research recently and found an article by Dr Steve Taylor that seemed to describe my experience more fully and secularly, which I appreciated and completely related to. In his article he says that an “‘awakening experience’ is a temporary expansion and intensification of awareness that brings significant perceptual, affective and conceptual changes.” He goes on to say that his research has shown some common characteristics of these experiences:
- “positive affective states (including a sense of elation or serenity, a lack of fear and anxiety);
- intensified perception;
- a sense of connection (which can be towards other human beings, nature, or the whole universe in general);
- altered time perception (which often includes a sense of being intensely present);
- a sense of a deeper knowing (as if the person is becoming aware of realities that are normally obscure); and
- a sense of inner quietness (as if the normal associational chatter of the mind has slowed down or become quiet).”
Dr. Taylor says that the physical and emotional triggers generally revolve around being in an extreme state of depression or stress, being in nature and having a spiritual practice.This accurately describes what I experienced, especially having a “sense of deeper knowing.” I had been aware of my unhappiness and distress for a long time but I had been unwilling to pay attention until that moment in my garden.
This is all very interesting and I’ll pay attention to any research that dives into this area more fully, however, in my opinion, the mystery still remains. The simplest way for me to explain this is that I had been aware of being sick and tired for a long time, I finally got tired of being sick and tired and it just happened to occur in my lovely garden. Whether it was a moment of grace or an awakening experience, I’m not sure, but I do know that I awakened to reality that day and deeply believed that I was worth saving. I knew what I had to do and even though fear was always with me, I felt empowered to push my fear to the back seat. I allowed strength and courage to be in the driver’s and passenger’s seats.
Tune in to these moments with mindfulness. You may just experience a moment of joy or new and wonderful paths may reveal themselves to you.
“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”
― Cynthia Occelli