Flavor: Stunned and sublime.

1. What’s going on mathematically?

After doing a lot of math, usually at least four hours, usually seated, I get up to go do something else.

2. What is the emotional and logistical context?

Usually I’ll be walking somewhere, or biking home. Sometimes it’s really late at night.

3. What thoughts are there?

Not many, and none about math.

4. What quality of awareness?

I become hyper-aware of my physical body and sensations – of the wind on my skin, the air and my breath, of sounds and movement, colors, or visual patterns. There is only a little processing of the sensations, for the most part it feels like I’ve just returned from the rarefied cloud of math to return into the living, breathing world, and that world’s forms are flooding over me with no resistance.

5. What emotions?

There’s a deep peace and calmness of body and thoughts, a happy glowing, and a gentle feeling that everything is going to be okay. A lot of times I’ll catch myself in a wide-eyed stare, that brings with it a pressure behind my eyes that I associate with the experience.

6. What does it resolve to, after how much time?

It usually goes away naturally, after 10-15 minutes.

7. How frequent is this flavor?

It happens almost every time, for at least five minutes, after a math session of at least four hours. If I go for less than four hours, then I’ll still have some no-thought, physical relaxation and inner stillness, but without the deep resonating peacefulness, and without the sustained effect on my mode of perception.

8. What are good/bad ways to change or follow it up?

Good: enjoy it, be happy, and let it go. Bad: It’s a shame not to relish it.


In my all-time favorite book, Hermann Hesse’s Magister Ludi (The Glass Bead Game), this experience, referred to as “cheerful serenity”, plays a big role.

One Response to “Flavor: Stunned and sublime.”

  1. Shan on&on Says:

    Exactly like the moments after hours spent painting or drawing.

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