Where do they come from? What do they mean? Can you have them if you’re trying to have them? Or do they just occur when we least expect them?
Breakthroughs occur in two ways.
1). Through effort.
2). By letting go.
But I think they are intertwined and require a little of both.
When we push to grow, lean into discomfort, reach to move past our fears and tendencies that hold us back ”“ that exertion ”“ to show up, take a class, learn, develop skills, talk openly about our challenges become an active part of the breakthrough process. To breakthrough means to get to a new level of awareness. That’s difficult to do if you constantly do the same thing. No awareness is created in stasis. So the breakthrough generally does not happen when we sit on our couch watching endless hours of TV, or swipe away countless dates on Tinder, or “like” another picture on Instagram . It occurs by actively participating in the desire to know more about who we are than we did before.
That’s not easy. Most people do not seek. And it requires moving past a lot of our shit sometimes in order to reveal the breakthrough that can’t come without us moving past our shit!
The second part of a breakthrough occurs at the level of letting go. In meditation terms, teachers of a contemplative practice often talk about how as you go deeper in your practice you’ll discover tiny glimpses (or gaps) that happen between your thoughts. Our minds are constantly running on autopilot ”“ even more so today with our chemical addiction to our phones. (Read this scary piece.) But in moments of repose, when we actually just allow our brain to be a brain and not constantly jam it with data like an outworn computer from the 80’s that has no hardware capacity to take on that much junk ”“ we get a tiny glimpse of a moment between thoughts.
Those moments occur, as I mentioned, in meditating, taking a walk, often when we’re in the shower or relaxed. They come from a place beyond the mind chatter as a hunch, and “Ah-ha”, an insight or intuition. Oftentimes they are a breakthrough themselves in how you see your current situation ”“ where you might be stuck or challenged ”“ or they might lead to an idea that if followed through ”“ creates its own breakthrough just by following that act.
So letting go might also make you realize that the breakthrough in your awareness now needs to be carried out into action.
You have an idea for a screenplay. It finally dawned on you that you deserve better than you’re two-timing partner. You want to quit your job, move to Seattle and start that bed-and-breakfast you always wanted. A lightening bolt of awareness hits you like a ton of bricks that you’ve been wasting your life (and talents). You realize you can do it (whatever it is).
All these breakthroughs are huge. Bravo. Our bodies are constantly seeking homeostasis ”“ normalcy ”“ so the fact that you’ve done enough exploring beyond your comfort zone to evoke a breakthrough just goes to show you how capable you are.
Don’t let them fall to the wayside ”“ like many of our breakthroughs do. If we’re not brave enough to act on them, they will be just that. Great ideas. Epiphanies. Eureka! moments. Extraordinary discoveries. “Ah-ha’s” of the most creative kind. Left to go the way of the junk heap. A sad loss of the purpose of the breakthrough anyway. And what we’re left with is a breakdown. Which is simply the energy of a breakthrough not expressed.
But more on that another time.
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