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Six Ways to Practice Mindful Awe Walks

Since the early 2000s, psychologists have been studying and learning the science of awe - an overwhelming, self-transcendent sense of wonder and reverence in which you feel a part of something that is vast, larger than you, and that transcends your understanding of the world. According to Psychology Today, your feelings of being diminished connect you to something larger. There’s a tremendous openness and freedom that comes when you consider yourself a speck of dust in the midst of the universe or a grain of sand on an expansive beach. You don’t stand in the way of anything, and you don’t overcrowd or obstruct anything. Instead of trying to be “all that,” you’re humbled by the spaciousness and your smallness, yet at the same time you feel bigger than life. Studies show that in an awe state, you feel the presence of something larger than you. You’re engaged with the expansiveness of the external world, less focused on yourself and more on others, which takes your mind off your burdens, trials and tribulations, your worries, anxieties and frustrations.

One way of connecting to this sense of being awed is taking awe walks where you take a walk in a place that has meaning and beauty and you intentionally look for something that amazes you, whether it’s something big or small. Awe walks can be made in new places where you haven’t been to or in familiar spots where past and present experiences collide. Here are some Mindful ways to start practicing awe walks:

This practice can be experienced indoors, but is meant to be brought outside, to a space that either feels new and inspiring or to a familiar place brings peace and presence.

  1. We begin an awe walk as we do all contemplative exercises, with the breath.
  2. Take a deep breath in. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale. Feel the air move through your nasal passage and notice the sound of your breath.
  3. Feel your feet on the ground and listen to the sounds around you. Return to your breath. Count to six while you inhale and six as you exhale.
  4. Shift your awareness now so that you are open to what is around you, to things that are vast, unexpected, things that surprise and delight. Take a deep breath in. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale.
  5. Let your attention be open in exploration for what inspires awe. Your attention might appreciate vast spaces, and the sounds and sights within them. You might shift to small patterns, for example of the sorrel on the ground, or the cracks in pavement, or the veins on leaves, or a cluster of tiny mushrooms.
  6. Bring your attention back to the breath. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale. Coming out of these experiences of awe, we often feel a sense of wonder. Wonder happens when we are delighted by that which surprises us, and we are moved to find explanations and deep meaning.

The striking thing, once you start to think about awe and try to practice it in your life, is how omnipresent it is. As you move through your day, take note of the moments that bring you wonder, that give you goosebumps: These are your opportunities for awe.

Our coaching program for this quarter starts with learning about awe and practicing it. Come join us, meet people of the same outlook and develop your mindset as you improve your lifestyle with the right nutrition and movement.

From the RISE team


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