A thin place story

When the universe sends you exactly what you need, why would you say no?

Even scientists experience thin places.

Alan Lightman is a research scientist in astronomy and physics, with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. In his book A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit, he describes a time when he grappled with mathematical calculations trying to show whether an experimental result required that gravity be geometrical.

It’s the kind of thing that would send most people screaming from a room, but that he found thrilling.

He studied and worked and wrote down equations. He made progress, but then he got irrevocably stuck.  For months (months!) he checked equations, paced the floor, double-checked equations, and paced some more.

Then he got that feeling.

He describes it as like being in a round-bottomed boat when a high wind lifts the hull out of the water and skips it across the surface—planing.

During this time of inspiration, he lost all sense of self and his body. He felt weightless, exhilarated:

Although I had no sense of my ego, I did have a feeling of rightness. I had a strong sensation of seeing deeply into the problem and understanding it and knowing that I was right—a certain kind of inevitability.

In a state that was so unreal it was more real than anything he had ever experienced, he looked at the problem in a way he had never noticed before, and he worked his way through to a solution.

 Lightman sees a pattern to what he experienced:

The prepared mind. The being stuck. The sudden shift. The letting go of control. The letting go of self.

It’s a pattern that we see in other thin place stories.

When the universe helps you to see more deeply into a problem, why would you say no?

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