A new study that shows that awe can reduce stress. Awe is that feeling we get in the presence of something bigger than us, something beautiful or powerful. Sometimes we will feel awe watching a sunset, or looking at the stars on a dark night or at a natural wonder like the Grand Canyon.
The people who conducted the study say that awe helps to reduce our stress because it takes us outside of ourselves, makes us feel connected to something greater than ourselves and makes us feel connected to others and to the world.
In the study they asked people to try the method below to feel awe in their everyday life.
A– Attention: Turn your full and undivided attention on things you appreciate, value or find amazing.
W– Wait: Slow down and pause.
E– Exhale and Expand: Let out your breath and let your feelings about what you are paying attention to increase.
They suggested that the thing you pay attention today doesn’t have to be anything out of the ordinary. Pay attention to the clouds. Pay attention to your hands. Pay attention to the face of your child. Pay attention to something in your house that you think is beautiful.
And as I read about this method of practicing awe, I couldn’t help but think of that wonderful verse of scripture: Be still and know that I am God. – Psalm 46:10
Just stopping and paying attention to the amazing things that God has given us can fill us with awe. It can be a kind of prayer. And when we allow ourselves to be still and just “know” that God is God – we feel ourselves connected to something greater than ourselves.
This study about awe reminds me of what we as Christians already know. When we connect with God and stand in awe of God’s presence and creation we are reminded that we are not alone and we can find ourselves at peace. Open yourself to awe today. Pay attention. Slow down. Exhale and be grateful.