The Practice of Awe: Why We All Could Use Some Mind Altering Medicine

You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility of your life.” Mary Oliver

Some of the time I live in bliss. I do. But a lot of the time I’m like everyone else, just trying to make it through each busy day. Luckily, I have concocted a cheat, a hack if you will, that can zip me out of a sad, lonely or numb place. It takes a matter of minutes and an open mind. Want to know my secret?

All you need are the 4 DYB principles….and maybe a decent pair of sneakers. I simply put on running shoes and step outside for a walk. If I’m attuned (think: open mind, interest in life, etc.) I just may take in the awe of the everyday. Even 20 minutes does the trick. And if I have more time, I take a day trip, and as Wendell Berry says:

I feel above me the day blind stars

Waiting with their light

For a time, I rest in the grace of the world

And am free.

Here is what is cool about awe. In moments of awe, we feel a rush of energy, joy and a tremendous sense of calmness and bliss. The feeling of connectedness that awe induces acts as a mood lifter. I was curious to see if I was attuned to the state of awe, so I took the Awe Quiz. Yes, that is a real thing!

If you score could be higher, this gift might help you. Here is a free class from Berkeley.

I would love to know what’s awe-ing you these days? And—if nothing is, let me know. I will send you some more tips.

Here are a few suggestions modified from the Great Good Center of Berekely, CA:

  1. Take an “Awe Walk.” An Awe Walk involves going somewhere that has the potential to evoke awe—even if it’s your own backyard—and approaching it with fresh eyes, taking in the scenery as if for the first time.

  2. Write about awe. Our own memories are a source of awe. The practice of writing an Awe Narrative has amazing benefit. Can you think of a time when you felt a strong sense of awe? States of awe may lower inflammation, ease stress, aid immunity, enhance well-being, improve your marriage, and more. and how to use it to make your health (and entire life) more awesome.

And I add:

Go outside. Seriously-look up! Take those three biggest breaths of the day. That’s all it takes, my friends.

See you in the dance…



Rachel Fleischman