Awe and Wonder
22nd May, 2018
Are you able to notice the remarkable within the seemingly ordinary? Do you care?
Well you should and here is why… Awe is good for us… Individually and Collectively.
Connecting with nature and in particularly spending time in blue space such as the coast enables us to step back from technology removing ourselves from the fast paced digital world and… perhaps for a moment… we take our full attention outside ourselves.
In nature we become less the centre of our world and more open to experiencing awe. Think about it… Less “self-centred” and more open to connecting with something bigger than ourselves… Me moves to We… and we see ourselves “within and as a part of” the environment rather than separate to it.
Awe is defined as “an experience of such perceptual vastness you literally have to reconfigure your mental models of the world to assimilate it.” (Jason Silva).
Experiencing awe has even proven to promote pro-social behavior (Dr Paul Piff UC Irvine)…. Really! Maybe the fact that our internal world is shaken up encourages us to reach outwards for equilibrium of some sort.
Nature is one of the richest sources of awe that we have available to us. It has the power to counteract emotional detachment…
Look closely at the flowers on the sand dunes, how many different colours are there? Are you aware of the patterns within a ploughed clifftop field, the birdsong, the light shining through the face of a breaking wave or the concept of deep time as you allow those grains of sand (once rock) to filter through your fingers?
The variety of shapes, tones, textures remind us that the world around us whilst it has structure, is distinctly analogue and within it… complexity and simplicity co-exist.
You are a long time dead as the saying goes… so are you truly living? For all it’s poetry, coastal coaching whilst imbued with philosophy and allegory is all about positive trajectory and being able to navigate ambiguity.
Is your insight and direction wise and are you able to cope in a shifting climate? A deep relationship with the environment provides a metaphorical backdrop to explore topics such as certainty reliance or status related cynicism.
Blue space encourages us to slow down and breathe more expansively, enabling our nervous system to move from chaos to balance or certainly to a place where we can dial down noise on the line.
Let’s imagine being unable to connect with qualities of awe – perhaps being reticent or resistant to wonder… the very idea of being amazed, surprised or inspired by something external to ourselves conflicting with our sense of ego. What would be the price? Complacency, cynicism, failure to celebrate successes of others, a sense of being on a treadmill lacking purpose, burnout.
Ironically an over inflated sense of self-importance could quite literally result in you losing yourself, feeling numb to your experiences.
But there is hope… Studies into mindfulness have shown that soft fascination – a relaxed focus of the type provided by a simpler landscape with a clear horizon, a shore line perhaps where we might watch waves… Reduces stress, anxiety and conditioned thinking, opening up space within us for the parts of brain that enable problem solving and to get creative (Kaplan and Kaplan).
Out in the littoral zone everything is changing moment to moment, this tidal location is susceptible to the elements and moves with them, spending time within transitional locations enables us to become familiar with / reconcile our relationship with impermanence and states of unknowing.
Walking on sand removes formality and invites playfulness, our bodies have to adapt to the shifting terrain and we become more in flow with our surroundings.
And we haven’t even touched on water. Water as an element is not known for being static. The planet is 70% salt water and you aren’t far off that… so how on earth can we cunjour ideas such as certainty and finite realities?
You are not bigger, stronger more beautiful than the ocean… you are a very small part of the ecosystem… This awareness provides scale and perspective. In contrast, marine litter along the shore-line also shows that the choices we each make do matter – a great reminder of the footprints we leave behind.
The Littoral Coaching Model developed here in Cornwall, explores analogue and digital Life-Qualities, fostering a more fluid sense of who we are through exploring continuums such as: light/shade, symmetry/asymmetry, abundance/scarcity and more.
Awe opens the door to a dialogue that spans intention and attention… for pro-social pro environmental action and we can all invite more wonder into our every day lives. Awe doesn’t have to be something on a grand scale either, wonder can be found all around us if we lift our heads and we take notice.
If you are interested in a full day coastal coaching adventure please get in touch.