Happy Ramadhan by Hamed Saber
Happy Ramadhan by Hamed Saber

In the past, I’ve spoken of the value of culturing gratitude. In my case, this shifted my emotional tone, allowing deeper letting go and acceptance, helping set the stage for awakening.

This isn’t about making a mood or faking it, just using our attention to favour what we are grateful for.

Recently, I read an article that spoke of culturing awe similarly.

“What gives you a sense of awe? That word, awe—the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world—is often associated with the extraordinary. You might imagine standing next to a 350-foot-tall tree or on a wide-open plain with a storm approaching, or hearing an electric guitar fill the space of an arena, or holding the tiny finger of a newborn baby. Awe blows us away: It reminds us that there are forces bigger than ourselves, and it reveals that our current knowledge is not up to the task of making sense of what we have encountered.

“But you don’t need remarkable circumstances to encounter awe. When my colleagues and I asked research participants to track experiences of awe in a daily diary, we found, to our surprise, that people felt it a bit more than two times a week on average. And they found it in the ordinary: a friend’s generosity, a leafy tree’s play of light and shadow on a sidewalk, a song that transported them back to a first love.”

The author Dacher Keltner researched an “awe walk.” “Tap into your childlike sense of wonder, imagining you’re seeing everything for the first time. Take a moment during each walk to notice the vastness of things—when looking at a panoramic view, for example, or at the detail of a flower. And go somewhere new, or try to recognize new features of the same old place.”

“We found that the awe-walkers felt more awe with each passing week. You might have thought that their capacity for awe would start to decrease: This is known as the law of hedonic adaptation, that certain pleasures or accomplishments—a new job, a bigger apartment—start to lose some of their thrill over time. But the more we practice awe, it seems, the richer it gets.”

“Staring up at a starry sky; looking at a sculpture that makes you shudder; listening to a medley of instruments joining into one complex, spine-tingling melody—those experiences remind us that we’re part of something that will exist long after us. We are well served by opening ourselves to awe wherever we can find it, even if only for a moment or two.”

His book “Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How It Can Transform Your Life” is a new bestseller. I’ve not read it myself, but this seems another path to wholeness. He is also the author of “Born to Be Good,” “The Compassionate Instinct,” and other books. He collaborated on the films Inside Out and Soul. Will Awe be in Inside Out 2?

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  1. Carl

    I think I’d rather culture gratitude than go on awe walks. I mean, Both will easily end up mood making for me. But if I go around searching for awe everywhere, it’s like I’m chasing a natural high. I think all I really need is to stabilize a TM program.

    1. Hi Carl
      This isn’t about mood making or trying to control our mood, nor about constantly searching. It’s favouring, being open to. But yeah, not everyone is in a place where that comes easily. At some point, attachments will soften. Then there will be some choice as to where we put our attention. Old habits can incline us to grumble and fuss. But we can instead favour the more positive. This can shift the whole tone of our experience.

      This is not to say we won’t still grumble or get angry or whatever. But those can shift into passing waves rather than normal tone. It’s a process.

  2. Joanne

    After quite a sudden awakening and self realization over year and a half ago, I’ve been in awe of lots of things I would have otherwise taken for granted before. And its funny because for so long now im completely in awe of birds and how they sound and how they fly. Over the last number of months I’ve questioned this to myself, what is it about birds that I’m suddenly in awe of? And I believe now the answer is grace. I see and feel grace in everything but to watch a bird, such an obvious and simple creature, its like a display of something special, a miracle. It’s the same awe moment in a sunset or a sunrise or a beautiful view. I feel so very grateful to be able to finally see.

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