When was the last time something took your breath away?
Experiences of awe and wonder that take our breath away often become powerful memories and stories we tell the rest of our lives.
Awe can be defined as an overwhelming feeling of reverence mixed with fear and wonder.
It is often produced by an experience in nature of that which feels vast, mysterious, sacred, sublime, or beyond our conceptual understanding.
You may have experienced a feeling of awe like this visiting an extraordinary natural wonder like the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, or staring out into the perceptual vastness of the ocean or the starry night sky.
A recent study on awe found that awe can alter our perception of time and space through an “experience of such perceptual expansion that you need new mental maps to deal with the incomprehensibility of it all.”
While these kind of macro-awe experiences can be very powerful, micro-awe is something we can mindfully cultivate and expand in our everyday lives.
It’s as simple as setting aside at least 20-minutes to regularly unplug and tune your senses into the natural world on an Awe Walk.
How To Create Your Own Awe Walking Meditation Practice:
Here’s a quick primer on how to create your own Awe Walking Meditation practice:
1. Choose an awe-inspiring place you would like to explore like a forest, garden, lookout, beach or ravine to go for your Awe Walk.
2. Turn off your smartphone notifications and dedicate at least 20-minutes to mindfully observe your senses and how you feel in your body.
3. Awe often starts as a subtle feeling around your belly button. If you pay attention to it mindfully you can expand and deepen this sensation.
4. Pay close attention to what seduces your curiosity and attracts your senses:
- the symmetrical patterns of colourful flowers
- the fractal branching shapes of large trees
- the perceptual vastness of the distant horizon
- the golden light after sunrise and before sunset
- the flow of the breeze animating the plants
- the symphony of different birds songs
- the calming flow of water in a creek
5. Set an intention to let go of the analytical mind’s compulsive labeling of things and explore more how nature makes you feel by observing the “felt presence” in your body.
When we ground ourselves in this sense of feeling and aliveness in our bodies, we can awaken a childlike sense of wonder at the mystery of all that we don’t understand rather than focusing on what we think we already know.
These awe walks can be powerful experiences for relaxing the mind and helping our bodies recharge.
In fact, there’s a lot of research showing that cultivating awe and the childlike sense of wonder and curiosity that comes with it can:
- Improve mood and make us feel more satisfied with life.
- Decrease rumination by making us feel smaller and more humble.
- Expand our perception of time and make us feel less rushed.
- Restore attention span and enhance creative thinking.
- Increase pro-social behaviours like generosity and kindness.
- Heighten curiosity and is linked to scientific discovery.
From my personal experience, my awe walking meditation practice has been a breath of fresh air that has decreased my stress and improved my well-being during this last year of covid isolation.
I’ve made a YouTube videos that you might like if you want to go deeper into the awe experience.
Subscribe my YouTube channel for more of my videos on invoking awe in nature through breathwork, sensory immersion practices and walking meditation.
May the awe be with you.