Nurturing a Sense of Awe

Awe causes us to turn off the small daily trivial thoughts…

The “mindfulness” movement in the United States is exploding. Among the healthy practices promoted by the movement are states of gratitude, loving kindness and appreciation of the now. People are hungry for relief from the mounting stress of everyday life. A sense of awe also gives us a glimmer of hope and a channel to the present moment.

Made up of an inconceivable number of cells, our brains are responsible for perception, understanding and even consciousness itself. It has been said that there are as many neural connections in our brains as there are stars in the universe. The infinite implications of having a universe in our heads have been the focus of the life work of psychologists, philosophers, neuroscientists, etc. throughout the ages.

Recently, Michelle “Lani” Shiota, social/personality psychologist at the University of California Berkeley, began to study why nature and profound human accomplishments such as great works of art, music and architecture evoke feelings of awe. In an article published in Slate Magazine she explains that awe makes us…

feel small, insignificant, and yet connected with the world around us, in touch with something greater than ourselves. Time seems to expand as we are immersed in the present moment, detached from our normal, mundane concerns.

One of her hypotheses is that much more of the brain universe becomes engaged in the need to understand the profound.

Awe causes us to turn off the small daily trivial thoughts to process the grandeur of that which is larger than us. Awe transforms the body and the mind.

From our November 4, 2019 Newsletter, RGMI section.
Image: Brain cells from  dreamstime.com
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