Wow! A promise of huge benefit: discover how to do an amazing awe walk & tap into a deeper sense of purpose and well-being. Who doesn’t want to have better health, happiness and a deeper sense of purpose!
What is an awe walk?
An awe walk is a walk within a place of meaning and beauty, where your sole task is to encounter something that amazes and transcends the way we understand the world, be it big or small.
Sometimes it can feel like we’re at the center of our own universe, fixated on our personal concerns without much regard for other people. Experiencing awe can jolt us out of this self-focused mindset, stirring feelings of wonder and inspiration by reminding us that we’re a part of something larger than ourselves.
Research suggests that experiencing awe not only enhances happiness and physical health but also reduces feelings of entitlement and increases generosity.
We can find awe in many places, in listening to music, thinking about inspiring people, in contemplation and mindfulness. My favorite approach to cultivating awe is the Awe Walk.
How to do it
Awe can be found in almost any environment, turning a mundane experience into a flight of inspiration and wonder. It is most likely to occur in places that have two key features: physical vastness and novelty. These could include natural settings, like a hiking trail lined with tall trees, or urban settings, like at the top of a skyscraper.
You’re more likely to feel awe in a new place, where the sights and sounds are unfamiliar to you. No matter where you are, the key is to be in the right frame of mind. This practice is designed to help you get there—to turn an ordinary walk into a series of awe-inspiring moments, filled with delightful surprises.
To get started, turn off your cell phone. Cell phones can be distracting and draw your attention away from what’s happening around you. Even better, don’t bring your phone with you at all so that you won’t be tempted to check it.
During your walk, imagine you’re seeing everything for the first time.
Follow these steps:
- Take a deep breath in. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale. Feel the air move through your nasal passages and hear the sound of your breath. Come back to this breath throughout the walk.
- As you start to walk, feel your feet on the ground and listen to the surrounding sounds.
- Shift your awareness now so that you are open to what is around you, to things that are vast, unexpected, things that surprise and delight.
- Take another deep breath in. Again, count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale.
- Let your attention be open in exploration for what inspires awe in you. Is it a wide landscape? The small patterns of light and shadow? Let your attention move from the vast to the small.
- Continue your walk and, every so often, bring your attention back to your breath. Count to six as you inhale and six as you exhale. Notice—really notice—the multitude of sights, sounds, smells, and other sensations that are dancing through your awareness, usually undetected.
As you move through your day, take note of the moments that bring you wonder, that give you goosebumps: These are your opportunities for awe. They may be in city areas, in front of art, listening to music, or connecting with others. Go out and find your awe moments and listen to them carefully; see where they guide you. As they stir humility and wonder, you may discover that they point you toward your purpose here on Earth and well-being.
Ideas for an awe-inspiring walk
- A mountain with panoramic views
- A trail lined with tall trees
- The shore of an ocean, lake, river, or waterfall
- A clear night when you can see the stars
- A place where you can watch a sunset or sunrise
- The top of a skyscraper or look up in an area dense with tall buildings
- A historic monument
- A part of your city that you’ve never explored before
- A large ballpark or stadium
- A city art walk and visit the galleries
- Botanical gardens or a zoo to see plants and animal species you’ve never seen before
- Walk around with no destination in mind and see where it takes you
- A planetarium or aquarium
- A historic mansion, cathedral, or opera house
- Walk slowly around a museum, giving your full attention to each piece
Tap into a deeper sense of purpose and well-being with this Guided Awe Walk Meditation. A 360 guided mindfulness practice through Muir Woods National Monument by Dacher Keltner, Greater Good Science Center director.
Curated from Awe Walk, published by Greater Good In Action; University of California, Berkeley