Need inspiration? This works every time

gratitude soul's expression spiritual adventure Jul 06, 2022
 

The temperature was mild as I sat crocheting in my favorite spot on the deck.  The air was thick and sultry, as it can be in the humid south.  I felt a breeze stir.  Looking skyward, I saw the branches of the nearby trees begin to sway.  As the breeze brightened, leaves danced to the beat of ancient natural forces. The traffic noise from the road next to my house faded to the background.

It lasted for a breath, it burned into my heart, it resonated throughout my body.  I felt small.  I felt held.  It was an instant that made living worthwhile.  Gratitude washed through me.

This landscape of the Ozark mountains has survived millions of years and will remain long after I’m gone.  In that moment I was overcome with deep awe. 

We know it when we see it

In 2003, social psychologists Dacher Keltner, Ph.D. and Jonathan Haidt, Ph.D. defined awe as “The feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world”

Awe stops us in our tracks.  We become lost in the moment.  Oftentimes, it reminds us of our smallness, as the swaying leaves on the giant trees did for me.  Put in our place, we realize the immensity of creation.

Awe inspires us to create.

When we extend our vision outside ourselves, it decreases our sense of self-importance and helps us expand our frame of reference.  We gain new perspective of our role as a connected member of society.

This is a potent antidote to loneliness.  The positive emotions generated by awe allow us to focus less on ourselves and pushes us to find new ways to contribute to those around us.  It puts our problems into perspective.

Awe also has the power to unite us through a shared sense of wonder. Remember that fabulous concert you attended not that long ago?  The music filled you from head to toe. Sound and rhythm swept through the crowd while everyone swayed as one.  Awesome, right? 

Exactly.

How to find more

With all those benefits, it behooves us to seek a state of awe as much as possible.  But how? 

Simply put yourself in place to receive it.  You know it when it happens.

The first step is always to get outside. Get dressed, put on your shoes and go for a walk. Time and again it’s been confirmed that being nature boosts positive feelings and reduces stress.  The Japanese concept of forest bathing is a delicious method for experiencing awe.  You can find more about it here.

Living in a city can make walking in nature a challenge.  Perhaps nearby are parks or gardens with paths for a walk.  A journey through town looking at the architecture of beautiful buildings can produce those feelings as well. Even an act as simple as standing in front of a window and looking at the sky can move us beyond our confines.

With a view of the horizon, watching a sunrise or sunset is a magnificent experience.  When the skies are clear at night, look up.  The stars above are always present and time spent appreciating the magnificence of the universe rarely fails. 

A full moon resonates through the landscape and creates shadows and light where we hadn’t noticed it before. When Lady Luna peeps over the horizon at maximum size, she can take our breath away.

Music, movies, and books can also inspire us to recognize our place in the cosmos.  If it gives us goosebumps, that’s a good indicator that we’re in a state of awe.

Relax into the moment and absorb what’s in front of you. Be fully present. Feel grateful. Allow those feelings to permeate the senses and resonate through the body.

Experiencing awe has many benefits, but there are more reasons than that to seek it. Do it for your peace of mind.  Do it to open the gate to creativity. Do it because you’re worth it.

It’s awesome!

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