“Try to see more of your world in this way, as if you are seeing it for the first time, perhaps through the eyes of a child if not a caveman. Beginner’s mind, Zen mind. If you’re not amazed, you’re not paying attention.”
Much has been written on the importance of “awe,” of having our minds blown. You know, that feeling when you walk through the redwood forest and notice its immensity, or hear a group of children singing in perfect harmony or you witness the perfect sunset? Judging by all the photos on Facebook of recent stunning skies, you are appreciating the importance of this connection.
Awe may be signaled by the hairs on your head standing up, or that feeling of electricity bolting through you or a sense of calm and oneness. I have been in awe when meditating and tuning out all else but a white light ahead of me; while lost in the intricate little lines in a stone while imagining the minerals and pressure and eons of time it took to make it, and when holding my newborn sons.
Awe puts us back in touch with ourselves, rearranges time to our benefit and helps us find center.
“People increasingly report feeling time-starved, which exacts a toll on health and well-being,” states a study in Psychological Science.
The authors of that study found that “participants who felt awe, relative to other emotions, felt they had more time available, were less impatient, were more willing to volunteer their time to help others, and more strongly preferred experiences over material goods.”
I believe we move so fast and think we are learning so much that we don’t allow ourselves to be open to all the possibilities life has to offer. Experiencing awe, in my life, comes as a surprise and may bring either utter joy or a bit of fear (like standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time).
It is a sensation that awakens emotions of all sorts, from inspired to melancholy, if you let it take you down an existential path to the finite nature of it all. But while you may be running on standby mode by closing yourself off to wonderment, you are also denying yourself the gift of awakening the senses.
Am I making sense?
Sometimes words spark awe in me: They come flying out and some times they work. Sometimes they don’t, but that’s OK!
Go to an art museum. Take a moonlight walk and look at the stars. Meditate and notice how many thoughts are going through your mind at once and how you can jettison them. Go out in nature again. Listen to a grand piece of music — really listen to it.
Express that awe in your own words, images or other way. Sit in silence.
Obviously, there are countless ways to find yourself in awe, but you must allow yourself to feel it, to let tears come, to let yourself laugh out loud, to pay attention to yourself and your place in it.
“Fleeting and rare, experiences of awe can change the course of a life in profound and permanent ways.”
— Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley and Jonathan Haidt of New York University,
(“Approaching Awe, A Moral, Spiritual And Aesthetic Emotion”)