Moments of connection are our soul’s gifts to us.
By Kirstin Rochford
As a parent, we are always looking for ways to pass along wisdom to our children that has sometimes taken us a lifetime to learn on our own. Have you ever thought, in a moment of clarity, “wow, if I had known this when I was younger, my path may have been quite different. How do I give my child a head start?” If you are anything like me, it is a constant conundrum to find a meaningful way to do this, because by definition, an understanding of concepts such as gratitude, intuition, and listening to that small voice inside requires personal experience in order to comprehend. The triggers for and timing of discovery is completely dependent upon the individual, however what if we could teach them not what to recognize, but how to recognize it? I decided to experiment. One day last week my son asked, “Mom, how was your day?” In light of the above, my typical answer, “very busy at work, but glad I’m home now,” no longer seemed adequate. On this particular day, I asked him if he had a few minutes. After a quizzical look, a shrug of the shoulders, and an “okaayyyy,” I filled him in…
Today, Justin, I had the rare opportunity to spend time onsite at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center to observe an astronaut training session, first hand. What I saw not only filled me with a true respect for the rigors of such a profession, but also filled my heart with wonder, curiosity, and awe. For starters, can you imagine what an astronaut who has traveled into space three times and conducted spacewalks has seen and experienced, and what incredible perspectives she can share with the world? Now, what I was there to see likely isn’t everyone’s cup of tea; it involved training for experiments with mice while in orbit—a fascinating project involving the exploration of bone regeneration in an anti-gravity atmosphere. This particular experiment holds potential promise for both human and animal clinical care and quality of life. Driving home later, I felt that all too familiar little “high”— that inexplicable feeling that is the hallmark of… well, what, exactly?
During my hour-and-a-half journey home, I spent a little time just sitting with this feeling and pondering it. It’s a sensation that is almost impossible to describe to someone else, and yet impossible not to notice if you’ve learned to pay attention to it. That feeling where your heart is not only light, but exhilarated; it starts with a subtle yet noticeable internal “tingle,” and ultimately leads to a state of being where everything around you “glows;” colors are more vibrant and senses are measurably heightened. That feeling that everything is right and that daily “troubles” don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. The excitement of something so much bigger than yourself. A happiness that starts deep within and spreads to every cell of your physical body. You know it without fail when you’ve seen or felt something that takes you to that place.
I’ve come to the conclusion that much of the meaning and beauty of life is contained within these little highs. Certainly there are much more substantial highs that intercept our individual lives… which then ultimately balance out the lows that a human existence can inevitably bring. I’m not talking about those, although there is much to say there as well, primarily in how we choose to react to them. What I’m speaking of, however, takes place independently and in the day-to-day sense, as life’s more noteworthy highs and lows play out over time in the background. More importantly, fleeting as they may be, these flashes of inspiration provide such amazing opportunities to bestow gratitude. What sparks these moments can be radically different for each of us. Take the time to contemplate what these are these for you.
Back to my example above, one of the things that personally sparks such moments for me is science in action. Good science. Science conducted with not only integrity, but with a true passion for the knowledge gained and how such knowledge can improve the human condition (or that of animals, the earth, and/or that of the Universe as a whole). Throughout my own time on this planet I have been fueled by an almost insatiable curiosity about life and how things work, not only biologically, but also spiritually and in a way that facilitates true connection. What methods can be developed to better understand the association between mind, body and spirit? How do we use these to work with others toward a greater good?
Exploration that delves deep into these mysteries of the body and the inner workings of the mind—as well as observing these explorations being conducted in such a manner that helps humanity understand and continue contemplating such wonders—is an incredibly exciting venture to me. What fascinates me even more are the things that science cannot yet measure. While it is easy to trust what can be seen and proven in the “now,” I firmly believe that there are so many phenomena that point to certain truths but which cannot yet be seen, only felt or intuited. This is simply a product of the fact that we as a species have not yet developed instruments sensitive enough to calculate and quantify their existence. Another example for me is within the beauty of words, their meanings and usage, and the impact of communication on overall unity and consciousness.
These highs I speak of are not ones comparable to those of drug or alcohol use. They are “soul highs,” which carry a uniquely different feeling. They are specific to each one of us as an individual, yet inevitably fast-track our connection to something more universal. Highs that raise whatever you want to call spirit—vibration, energy, consciousness—and once you’re there, you just know. They can be brought on by thought alone, but even more so through immersive experience. Practice staying in this feeling when it comes, for as long as possible. Such moments seem to be connected to experiences such as:
- Spending time in nature
- Expression of self in ways that are completely unconstrained by society
- An unexpected, and unexplainable, connection with another
- Physical exhilaration that forces a new perspective, such as sky diving or scuba diving
- The exploration of new spiritual truths
- Full immersion into other cultures
- Performing acts of kindness with no expectation of reciprocity
- The beauty of human/animal connection
- A book, musical or other arts-related expression that transports you to another place and time
- Action that is genuinely in line with your truth
- Day-to-day practices of gratitude and peace
These moments can be quick and fleeting, or a lifetime in coming, but one thing to be aware of: once you have taken note of this feeling, the more often it makes itself known. The more often it makes itself known, the more you naturally crave it. In doing so, daily activities take on more meaning, the colors stay brighter longer, and the more you tune in to your authentic self. The more you align with your authenticity, the more you discover your reason for being right here, right now, in this very moment.
“That’s really cool, Mom!” came my son’s response. “Do the mice float out in space?” Yep kid, they do. We went on to chat about a few recent meaningful moments in his own teenage life, after which he promptly reverted back to his “oh look, a squirrel!” self. Now did my words come out as polished as the text above makes them sound? Of course not, but you get the gist. Next time, instead of the classic “yeah, my day was busy,” if there was something special about it that made you stop and take notice, try opening a dialogue that helps convey not only what was unique about the day, but how you knew it. Perhaps by sharing our own little highs, our children might better learn to recognize and appreciate their own, thus trusting in the importance of that inner voice from an early age.
Kirstin is the mother of two children, ages 11 and 15, who teach her more every day than any other type of education ever could. She works in research ethics at a public university by day and dons her copyediting and proofreading cape in the evenings. In her free time she seeks creativity and adventure – be it physical, intellectual, and/or spiritual. This is the first writing she has shared in a public forum.