Awe is the feeling we get in the presence of something that challenges our understanding of the world, like looking up at millions of stars in the night sky or marveling at the birth of a child. It doesn’t have to be the Grand Canyon or Taj Mahal. It can be walking through the forest, looking at a tree or in your mind – recalling someone’s smile, the twinkle in someone’s eye. Or being in the presence of someone you revere. I felt this when I heard the Dalai Lama speak in India.
The Science of Awe teaches us that when we’re in awe, it shifts our attention away from ourselves, reminding us that we’re part of something greater than ourselves.
Awe can help us regain balance when we’re in stressful situations — major ones like COVID, our nation’s opening to the cruel and pervasive racial injustices or very personal ones like a job loss, divorce, or chronically feeling overwhelmed. It clears our minds from the feelings of stress or overwhelm so we can return more focused and in the present moment.
Next time you’re in a stressful situation, stop and take two minutes for an Awe Break. Stare up at a tree or watch something awe-inspiring on media. When I had daily radiation treatments for cancer, I remember lying in the cradle, staring up at a huge poster of an amazing beach with the bluest skies and water, trees, flowers. It lifted my spirits from sterile clinic setting and monster machines hovering around me.
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