Over the past year, I’ve been trying to note and remember moments where I felt most intensely alive. I identified three different types so far, and after talks with friends I’ve been able to define them, kind of. I’m converting that to written form to remember the ideas, as a sort of personal log.

These ideas are hard to express and intimate, so please bear with me if they make little sense. I’ll present them from most to least common. Here they go…

1. Eureka moment

After working hard on understanding something, you suddenly get it. I had a lot of these while in college, but they still happen from time to time. In my mind, it feels as if a giant cloud of thoughts suddenly takes definite form. With a short rush of adrenaline, your eyes open wide and you feel like shouting “Aha!”. It’s the pleasure of learning. You just created a new block of knowledge to use in building future ideas.

2. Deep Focus

Those precious times where you can focus completely on the task at hand. You feel one with what you’re doing. It only happens to me while I’m doing something I’m very good at. The world disappears, I lose track of time, and it feels like my brain is on fire. A strange thing happens where my identity gets blurred into the thing I’m doing. The whole of me is poured onto the activity, be it solving an exam, playing the guitar, or writing a piece of code. It’s such an intense experience, that I sometimes feel like I’m watching myself from the outside. I’m a spectator to the show.

3. Presentness

A rare and liberating feeling that the future and the past don’t exist. I have mostly experienced this in close contact with nature or loved ones. A sudden bliss, the intense feeling of being alive, and blankness of mind are some of the symptoms. The joy of knowing that a moment is perfect and how it fills your whole mind. No place for worries, memories, plans, or even thoughts. It’s as if your consciousness stepped outside of time for a moment, and you just hanged there. Quiet. Smiling. Present.

. . .

I find these moments something to look for. They are signs that I’m on the right track. They show I’m learning, I’m giving my full, and in contact with my experiences. I use them as a compass to know if I’m living life to the fullest. If it’s been long since I’ve reached one of my three states of elevated consciousness, I ask myself what may be going wrong.

I’m also attempting to understand them better, by looking for them, talking about them, and writing about them. Have you experienced all or some of these? What other moments did you have where you felt your consciousness was elevated? I’d love to know, really!