It turns out that sense of awe and wonder is actually good for your health. The latest research buzz is that a sense of awe has an anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies along with host of other benefits.
These are not those “awesome” explosions and special effects from your favorite movie franchise. Rather we experience awe when we pause to take in nature’s beauty, or listen to inspiring music. Which reminds me, according to Chinese medicine, being in touch with nature also enhances our qi or vital energy.
You have plenty of time each day for awe and wonder, and you need not go somewhere spectacular. Simply turn off your cell phone, TV and computer, extract yourself from the mind-numbing blather and try this:
To Your Health: A Daily Dose of Awe
Drink your morning coffee or tea quietly, without news, Facebook or other distractions. If it is quiet outdoors, go outside. Or, sit by a window and look outdoors at the sky and earth.Take a moment to connect with your favorite indoor plant, or listen to inspiring music. Stay quiet, slowly savoring the entire cup.
Watch sunrises and sunsets as often as you can. . No two are ever the same. Take in these miraculous moments of ever-changing color. I will stop almost anything in order to watch a sunset.
Find a park or open space. Take off your shoes, feel the earth, expand awareness into the sky and all that inspires you. Take in sights, smells, sounds and the feeling of the natural world.
Look up at the moon and stars. Get some perspective. Consider yourself on this earth, spinning through the vastness of space. Sense your connection to the universe.
Your daily dose of awe brings you home to this moment and to the joy of being alive. Drink Up!
November 7. 2015
Recently, my dear friend Anna Rose asked me what advice I would I give to my 27-year old self. Wow! What a great opportunity! At 27, our world is ripe with possibility. Let’s start by facing some hard facts, then consider a touchstone for keeping life in perspective.
THE HARD FACTS: We get to play here on Planet Earth for an unspecified amount of time. The odds are that we will live for many decades, however our bodies will not last forever, and s–t happens. Let’s face it; we have absolutely no guarantee that we will live to take another breath. We have no guarantee that we will ever see our friends and loved ones again in this life, or what our health and function will look like tomorrow. That’s part of the deal that comes with having a body here on Planet Earth. It’s a bummer; actually it is terrifying, and most of us spend a lot of energy denying this important fact of life. We distract ourselves with endless activities, mind-numbing preoccupations with lives and opinions of people we don’t even know, and worries about the ever-changing landscapes of our own yesterdays, and tomorrows.
THE PERSPECTIVE: When we face our fear of death and loss and embrace our precarious and fleeting condition, we can wake up to to the glory of this adventure called Life. The sooner that you get real about life, the more alive you become. The most amazing part of the adventure is — and this is really important— the fullness of life is present in each and every moment.
This moment is so vast that it boggles the mind. It is our breathing and the billions of interactions that are recreating our bodies each instant. This moment is the life force of the earth in all its glorious expression; it is the sky, the sun and the stars in their galactic dance. This moment is the billions of galaxies and infinite dimensions beyond our senses. This moment is our collective joys and unspeakable tragedies. It is birth, sickness, loss, death and rebirth. This moment is here, there and everywhere, now. We are one with it all, now and always. This moment is change. We cannot grasp it, we cannot hold it, but we can experience it. We can be here for it.
A TOUCHSTONE: A good starting point for being here is to notice your body right now. Your body is your short term pass to playing here on Planet Earth and is way smarter than you can imagine. Think about it. Not only does it give you a place to live, it also takes you where you want to go. It is constantly repairing and renewing itself just for YOU. It is alive and responds to your thoughts and emotions. Your body is constantly communicating important information to you, about YOU. Pay attention to its signals and you will learn lots of useful information about yourself, for example what to eat and what to do next. It is worthy of your attention and kind consideration. You can’t live without it!
So, simply stop whatever you are doing. Get quiet. Get in touch with your body, with what feels like you. What feels like you is a big part of your every moment. Here’s the conversation:
HI HONEY, I’M HOME!
Notice just three breathes— in and out—slowly.
Sense your feet — wiggle your toes, feel the soles of your feet.
Sense your head— align it and release tension in your face, neck and shoulders.
Sense your hands — feel into the palms and tips of each finger.
Sense your whole body.
THANKS FOR BEING HERE
Notice, acknowledge and appreciate the parts of your body that feel good right now.
Notice feelings, and sensations that arise. What is your body telling you right now?
I’M OFF AGAIN, BUT I’LL BE BACK!
Notice just three breathes— in and out—slowly.
Do it every day. Many times each day. Remember: Now is where the action is. Now is where the love is. Now is where the energy is. Now is our moment.