The Simple Act That Calms Your Entire Body & Your Mind

How to get your daily dose.

Man taking in sunset, calming his mind Štefan Štefančík | Canva

On a hiking trip some miles from civilization, I sat in silence witnessing the sunrise—it was a moment of awe. Fifteen hundred miles from home in another quiet place, I watched a sunset — it too was a dose of awe.

Wonder. Peace. Community. Feeling part of a larger world that includes other beings, all experiencing these same sunrises and sunsets. These components add up to awe.

Awe is important to our wellness for a lot of reasons

There is evidence to suggest awe improves health and the capacity for critical thinking, increases meaning, joy, social connection, and gratitude, and can lead us to be less judgmental and depressed. It may even quiet your inner critic, at least for a while.


The other good news is, if we turn our attention to awe, we can cultivate our ability to experience it.

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@joelbervell I’ve been thinking a lot about the science of “awe experiences;” the moments where we turn our attention away from ourselves, and focus more on the realization that we are a part of something greater. Let me know what you think! #awe #science #newresearch #selfhelp #meditation ♬ Aesthetic - Tollan Kim

The good news is, like Dorothy, you don’t have to go to Oz — it’s all right in your backyard. Last week, practicing yoga in my living room, I caught a glimpse of the sunrise—it was as awe-inspiring as the ones I’ve seen in faraway, pristine places, even though cars and other evidence of humans were near, and I was about to get ready for work. Nevertheless, I had the same feeling of wonder, peace, community, and the awareness I was connected to something larger than myself.


Awe is not solely found in nature

The Peachtree Road Race held annually on July 4th has 50,000 runners. It begins with the national anthem followed by all genres of blaring music, blasting horns, cheering, costumes, and spectators yelling things that are incomprehensible but fun. Whether running, walking, or watching, there is the feeling of awe, of connection with others, of being part of something bigger, and it’s kind of great in its weird way.

Hands to heart she calms body and mind fizkes via Shutterstock

There are sunsets and sunrises available to all

There are also national monuments, beaches, concerts, art, music, books and so much more. The amazing play you catch at your favorite team’s game. Even on video, the play can inspire awe. The time you hear a song for the 250th time and have to cry because it’s so beautiful and moving. The opportunities for awe are infinite.


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How to get your daily dose of awe

1. Acknowledge you can feel awe

Accept that awe is a real emotion you can experience, no matter what else is going on in your life. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, any Great Lake, or any ocean, can you remember experiencing the vastness, the breathtaking beauty, and the incredible fact of the thing merely existing right beside you? That was awe. No matter how crappy I might feel before I notice a sunrise, catching a moment of awe changes my mood completely, and it can do the same for you. When you allow the possibility of opening yourself up to this amazing emotion, the possibility becomes real, right here and now, even if you’re just looking out a window or driving by in a car.

2. You’ve got to take a beat

Like me and the sunrise in my backyard, you must stop and have a look. Take a pause and drink it in. Feel what you’re feeling. Let it sink in and wash over you. It changed me in the moment. It can change you too. You might notice the sunset out of the corner of your eye as you’re about to make dinner in the kitchen. Or maybe a sparrow landed on your windowsill. Stop, move closer, and look. Breathe it in. Let yourself feel something. There might be goosebumps. You might say aloud, whoa, wow, or ooh. Just you and the sunset. Just you and the bird, having a moment.

@jon.hillstead Take a breath and enjoy this moment snd how far you’ve come. #present #gratitude #spiritualjourney ♬ original sound - Jon Hillstead

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3. Try to be mindful

Notice everything: the sights, sounds, smells, and your feelings. The beach even has a taste. Don’t take a picture. Don’t talk about it. Don’t think about how you would describe it. For a moment, focus on the experience. Later, you can write about it, come up with the words to describe it, talk about it, and take a picture. Those things are all helpful in solidifying your awe experience. They help you believe you have experienced awe, and you can experience it again.

4. Use your memory

You don’t have to be there right now. Memories are another way to feel awe. Once you’ve experienced it, you can bring it back by remembering, looking at the photo, or at what you’ve written about the experience. One of the things that’s so important about pictures and journals. They help us remember the look and feel of experiences. Use as many senses as you can to bring back the awe.


Mom and daughter hug to calm body and mind David Gyung via Shutterstock

On your self-care journey, include this important emotion to boost your health and wellness. Explore the variety of ways you can experience awe. Remember it can be nature, art, music, sports, special events, anything that gives you the "Wow!" reaction. Allow it to enrich your life, right in your backyard.

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Judith Tutin, Ph.D., ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. She shares more work on her website, where she brings more fun and wellness to your life.