Alice Walker, author of The Colour Purple says, “I think the foundation of everything is wonder.” In November, as part of my Word of The Year practice, I focused on healing through wonder and awe.
The concept of awe and wonder is diverse, holding various meanings for different individuals. To me, it is feeling connected to something sacred, getting inspired, and a sense of vastness and reverence.
Healing Through Wonder and Awe
Wonder is a beautiful gift from God. I think we underestimate its power to transform us, relieve our stress and heal us from all forms of trauma.
It directs our attention outward instead of inward, helping to reduce negative self-talk and promote feelings of gratitude and optimism, which are linked to better mental and physical health. From a social perspective, experiencing awe can make us more generous, kind, and connected with others, contributing positively to our overall health.
Research has revealed that regularly experiencing awe can have a positive impact on stress response, inflammation, hormonal activity, and brain function. It can also help alleviate symptoms of depression. Therefore, regularly appreciating awe can be a simple yet effective way to improve both mental and physical well-being.
The Liturgy Of The Little Things
While I’ve not been walking too much, I’ve been trying to take pictures of the little things that fill me with wonder and awe – mostly things in Nature. On Instagram, I’ve been posting some of these pictures and celebrating a liturgy of the little things! (Thank you Sarah Westfall)
The beauty of these little things make me feel much better about life – their beauty rejuvenates me and fills me with hope and healing!
Awe is a special positive feeling that has been found in scientific studies to boost both mental and physical well-being. A 2021 research project focused on older individuals who were divided into two groups: regular walkers and “awe walkers.” The awe walkers were instructed to experience awe during their walks by taking pictures and paying attention to their surroundings rather than themselves. Compared to the regular walkers, the awe walkers reported more positive emotions and lower levels of anxiety and depression. This shows that incorporating awe into activities like walking can make them even more beneficial.