When I was 19 or 20, I had an experience that turned everything I had known until that point on its head. I was camping out at a remote lake in Canada. My mind was clear and my heart calm. As I gazed out over the lake, I suddenly “saw” all the ripples on the surface of the lake merge together as the lake started laughing. And then, time stopped. I knew in that moment the meaning of eternity. I understood what time was, and wasn’t. I knew why I was on earth and I knew my place in the flow of life. I know this sounds very cosmic and perhaps even delusional, but it really did happen. The effects of the experience lasted for several weeks, but gradually, I returned to my normal consciousness.
After that experience, I wanted little more than to have another experience just like that one. But alas, no matter what I did, I could not make the universe expand again. I took up meditating, I prayed, I joined a spiritual group and dedicated myself heart and soul to the quest for over 20 years, and even though I had some wonderful experiences, never again did time stop for me; never again did I feel as clear and connected to divinity as I did at that moment. I continually prayed for another 10 seconds of such divine bliss.
And then, a few weeks ago, a friend named Jeffrey Courson said something that made so much sense that I had to write about it. He said that after spending years trying to recapture a peak experience that he had gone through, he finally realized that life never repeats itself. Just as no two snowflakes are identical, neither are any two experiences in life, and nothing will ever happen again in exactly the same way it did the first time. In other words, those early amazing experiences will NEVER recur. Instead, they lay a foundation upon which something new can grow.
And of course, this is 1000 percent true. It’s true not only for spiritual experience, but for everything. You can’t ever re-experience love in exactly the same way as you did in the past, nor creativity, nor success. It’s futile to pine for another peak experience like the one from the past, because it’s impossible that it will ever come round again. What will come around is something with more shading, more complexity, more depth—because it will be layered on top of whatever you experienced before.
In fact, holding onto the idea that you need to recapture anything actually shuts down your energy systems. You wear lenses tuned only to the frequency of what you already know, instead of remaining absolutely open to something new. If you let go of the thought, “someday I’ll find that bliss again,” you’ll notice a feeling of spaciousness inside, a feeling of relief, a feeling that you are allowing the universe to flow through you again in its own way.
Every breath carries a new promise, completely different from any breath that came before it. We humans constantly try to shape life into a solid form that will comply to our hopes and bestow upon us what we want, but the river of life can’t be stopped, shaped, or made to flow backwards. What came before has long since gone down river. Perhaps wisdom lies in surrendering to that river with open eyes, open ears, open arms, an open heart, and a life filled with gratitude for being able to take the ride, come what may.
Dr. Hiyaguha Cohen offers life coaching by Skype or phone and in-person Hawaii counseling. Click HERE to go to her website.