What Does it Mean to be in a State of Awe?
Everyone refers to awe differently. It can be a form of rapture or reverie, or an altered state that unearths joy, well-being and inner calm. As stated in a recent Forbes article, the state of Awe is a paradox. Your feelings of being diminished connect you to something larger. Author Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., cites numerous studies that show when you are 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.
What is an “Awe Walk” and Why are They Beneficial?
Robinson explains that an “awe walk” is a stroll in which you intentionally shift your attention outward instead of inward. You let go of any stressors in your life and instead focus on the beauty of the world around you.
A recent study published in the journal Emotion found that a regular dose of awe has the power to greatly reduce stress and boost mental health. In this study, they had 60 adults take weekly 15-minute walks for eight weeks. Half of the participants were randomly assigned to a simple walking group. The other half was placed in an “awe walk” group, in which researchers described the emotion of awe and suggested the walkers try to experience that emotion as they strolled.
After the 8 weeks, the awe group reported significant boosts of positive prosocial emotions such as compassion and gratitude. Not only that, but they found that they were focusing more on the positive aspects of the world around them even when they were not intentionally going on an awe walk.
A New Practice for 2021
After a year like 2020, awe walks may be just what we all need. They are simple, easy, short and cost-free. Yet the practice of shifting our energy and attention outward instead of inward can be some of the best medicine that leads to significant improvements in our emotional well-being. More joy and connection with our surroundings is something we can all benefit from in 2021!
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