We’ve just had a significant insight, and now life feels “different.”
Whether it’s a psychological or meditative insight isn’t terribly important, because whatever it was, it has left a noticeable residue.
Maybe we’re glowing and beaming. Maybe it has more of a sobering and cool feel. Although, whatever the residue, the question on the mind is often,
Here’s a list of six things I wish I would’ve known a decade ago. They help navigate the transition space from the old-us to the new-us.
The mind can make all sorts of stories out of an insight. We might wonder if we got enlightened. We might think about how great we are. We might want to start evangelizing to anyone who will listen about whatever method, practice or belief-system led us to that insight.
Often times we conjure up wild ways we can shake up our life. Quit our job. Become a monk or nun. Leave our relationship. Sell all our possessions or burn some bridges.
It’s not to say there’s anything wrong with any of that, but just chill out for a minute. Take a breath. Come down to earth. We’re still the same person.
In the next point, I’ll instruct you to actually act boldly, however it should come from a very grounded place. So before you get involved in any fanciful thinking or plans, first relax and come back to earth!
It’s just the same as it’s always been, we only have a slightly different lens than before.
2) Connect with our deeper intentions, and (re)direct our life accordingly
Insights shake up our mind-structure, and generally leave us with a great well of inspiration, clarity and energy.
In turn, the aftermath of an insight is a potent time to develop new habits, make lifestyle shifts, or really hanker down and get things done. Here’s a few ways we could use that energy:
- Do inspired writing or art creation.
- Move away from relationships that aren’t serving us, and towards more resonant relationships.
- Resolve to abstain from or simply look more sincerely at our bad habits or addictions.
- Re-evaluate our core values, and whether or not our life is in harmony with them—resolve to eliminate the gap.
- Commit to a single new good habit.
Although, it’s important to not over-extend ourselves. I’d recommend really sitting with this question:
“What needs to change?”
Whatever comes up most strongly, channel your great well of energy in that direction.
3) Keep doing whatever got us here
Sometimes we can have such a profound insight that it feels like there’s nothing left to do. Although, most people come to see that there is no such thing as a “final insight.”
Sure, maybe we’ve insight’ed our way through our major childhood wounds. But, new minor, adult-wounds will continue to greet us. We need to continue to show up, and attend to them as they come.
Likewise, maybe we’ve had a earth-shattering insight into not-self, and our baseline state of mind has shifted to awareness. Even that needs to be maintained. It won’t take all that much work, but unless we make the effort, it will slowly become less and less accessible.
In other words, no matter what happens, we simply have to keep showing up. We have to keep applying ourselves. One insight after another.
And, so, if our insight came through therapy, I’d say keep doing therapy. If our insight came through daily sitting meditation, I’d say keep doing daily sitting meditation. If our insight came through intimate relationship, keep doing that.
Just keep doing whatever seems to be working. Most of all, that means keep showing up.
While it’s necessary to continue showing up and applying ourselves, it’s also really important to acknowledge that something significant just happened.
Relax a bit. Laugh. Play. Enjoy life from your newfound vantage. Reflect that you’re doing alright. That even though it’s tough sometimes, you’re on the right path!
I often encourage people to do something explicitly celebratory, like connect with a friend, honor the insight in ritual, or spend some time in nature. Taking joy in our accomplishments can be really nourishing.
As an added bonus, taking time to celebrate also lends us extra juice and motivation to keep going forward.
5) Life continues as usual
One famous meditation teacher wrote a book called, “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry.”
The book talked about how we can have these profound meditative experiences, but then we have to confront the basic reality of laundry, bills, relational messiness, car problems, the DMV, aches and pains, and the like.
It’s easy to slip into “final insight” thinking, where we believe that whatever insight we’ve had will permanently get rid of our “laundry,” and allow us to perfectly handle every situation. Unfortunately, even if we do handle things much better than before, our clothes don’t just start cleaning themselves!
Personally, I had many fancy insights in two years of being a full-time meditator. But, after returning, I tried to do things like be in a romantic relationship, live in close-quarters community, make a livelihood I felt good about, stay focused while doing things I didn’t like, etc. Many of these things still knocked me on my rear, and were quite humbling.
After our insight, the fireworks eventually wear off, and life continues much as usual.
The idea isn’t to run off in search of the next insight, but to realize that many of these daily life things, like relationships, work and “the laundry,” are actually profound places to apply our continual showing up.
6) It really is that simple
Before our insight, whatever the “thing” was seemed complex and fuzzy. After the “ah hah” moment, it all seems so simple.
It is. Stay with that. No need to overcomplicate or intellectualize it. On a level deeper-than-thought, you do get it.
Relax. Celebrate. Have some worthy intentions. Keep showing up. Release into the stream of your life.
It really is all quite simple.
- Introducing Insight and Wisdom in Mindfulness Meditation (Part 1)
- How to Measure the Strength of an Insight (Part 2)
- The Difference between “Psychological” and “Meditative” Insight (Part 3)
- The Three Core Insights of Mindfulness Meditation (Part 4)
- How to Attain Wisdom & Insight in Three Steps (Part 5)
- Six Important Things to Know after a Major Insight (Part 6)