We already know that walking is physically and mentally good for us. In recent years, we’ve even learned that walking quickly is good for our brains!
But here’s a simple concept I might possibly love even more, which combines awe and wonder with the physical act of walking: going for an ‘awe walk’.
The feeling of awe – which is essentially the sense that you are in the presence of something mysterious and larger, more consequential than yourself – will often increase our feelings of gladness and gratitude for life. So if we go outside and look at things with fresh, childlike eyes, and we marvel in the miracles and beauty that surrounds us as we walk, we will be reaping the emotional health benefits of walking and feeling awe. I love this!
I actually do this often, and I can really attest to the emotional boost it offers. It goes without saying that you have to leave distractions at home (no mobile phones), and it helps to quiet your mind (no music or podcasts). Just simply go for a walk outside and pay attention to the incredible smells of the star jasmine vines that climbs along the fence, watch the way the birds swoop from one branch to another, notice the way the sunlight shines on a leaf or the way the dappled sunlight makes patterns on the forest floor, take in the views of the sea, notice the sound of the waves as they hit the rocky shore, etc. There are so many small wonders everywhere if you look for them.
Last summer Michael and I started going for walks after dinner together and we would take turns pointing out the wonders we noticed. What I found interesting is that Michael sees different things than I see, and to experience his awe only added to the uplifting feeling I felt on those walks together. It’s actually a really beautiful exercise to do with your partner.
You can also go for an ‘awe walk’ with your children and get them to point out what they see and hear and feel. The NY Times article points out the benefits of ‘awe walking’ for older people – but I have no doubt it is beneficial for everyone, young and old.
* For more tips for finding more meaning and balance in motherhood, check out my Mama Musings eBook.