858th Week: The Importance of “Awe”
Whenever I go into Central Park, I take time to see what has changed, how the trees look, what wildlife is around. I enjoy listening to the birds and, also, to the many languages I hear on any given day in New York City. This Fall season, I have enjoyed watching the trees change from their brilliant colors to bare branches after their leaves have been released. For me, this time of year brings its own beauty, and during this season I can see the creative, complex, and varied ways that trees find expression in the shapes and reach of their branches. It’s magical to me and I discover new trees every year—trees I have only noticed during their leaf-laden seasons.
This process that is so familiar to me got me to thinking about the importance of looking for inspiration, beauty, and things that are new as part of nourishing our vitality and aliveness. I was surprised to discover that I had a link to the importance of “awe walks” in my notes that fits perfectly with what I’ve experienced this Fall as the trees have taken on their winter look. Here’s a link to that article. (You can click on the blank space and it will take you to the article. For some reason, the link doesn’t offer visible content, but it’s here…)
Even though this article refers to “older people” and some research that was done with this population, the effects of awe apply to us all. There’s been a good bit of research in this area. Here’s a link to an article reflecting the impact of small moments of awe on anyone’s overall health and well-being.
For this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to engage in even more “awe walks” than you may already do. Pay attention to what happens in your body, emotional tone, and thoughts as you look for things that inspire, things you didn’t notice before, things that fill you with awe. If you can’t go outdoors, then do this practice in your home, taking time to notice what you have around you that inspires you and also to invite yourself to notice small details that you may have overlooked.
As you explore your relationship with awe, remember to allow any mixed feelings that may arise. Because of our inherent wholeness, we can find ourselves having a range of responses when we orient to a practice that emphasizes something positive. It’s important to allow whatever may arise, as this invites awareness and awareness invites choice. I’m kind of a nut for wholeness, as we’re never going to get rid of who we are. Instead, the ongoing and constant invitation is to deepen our self-acceptance, our awareness of our wholeness, and the opportunity to choose how to respond to any mixed feelings that may arise.
As with all these practices, be sure to bring along curiosity as your constant companion. One of the gifts of curiosity is that it engages our brain’s response to novelty, which is a very good thing. And, also please remember to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through with your having to do anything with or about them. They are part of the natural flow of your stream of consciousness and there’s no need to engage them unless you feel like deepening your understanding of why they carry the content or quality they do.