I've said it before and I'll say it again, experiencing awe is good for you. This week I attended the first session in a new course called "Intentional Awe" which aims to explain the science behind awe, why it's good for you and how you can experience more of it in your life, even when you're in a difficult situation. This week we had a look at the different flavours of awe - from the way you feel when you see someone using incredible skill, such as an expert rock climber, to the beauty of nature; the admiration you feel as you see a feat of heroism and even threat based awe, almost fear in the presence of a charismatic leader. There has also been research into what different emotions sound like, and you can listen to the sound of awe right here on this sound map of emotions recorded as vocalisations. It's fun scrolling over each of them; except for fear, I could feel my heart starting to race as I listened to the sound of fear.
The course is being run by Fraser Deans, the founder of the Awe app, which is one of the few apps on my phone that I have notifications switched on for. This is because every day the app sends me a daily pondering prompt, that is, a quote that helps you to bring some awe into your life. Today's quote from Avijeet Das reads:
"You must feel the rustle of the leaves. You must feel the rumble of the clouds. The flowers sing their own songs. The bees create their own rhythm. The waves serenade with distinct notes. The breeze captivates its own chords. And the moon mesmerizes in her own melodies. You must understand the symphony of nature."
This week I have also been lucky enough to experience awe in real time, as it were, not least on the day when I heard the woodpecker in the park for the first time. There are lots of great birds in the park, but there is something about the sound of a woodpecker that seems to make everyone stop in their tracks and look up. It seems that looking up often brings me awe, from the tallest trees to the clouds in the sky. Over the last month I've been out meeting people for walks in places that I don't know, plotting the walks onto Go Jauntly so we can share them with you. On Tuesday I met Jill from Drawing on Green Spaces, a project that has been exploring plants and greenspace through botanical art and photography over the last year. Their walks have taken place at the Neilsland and Earnock Community Woodland, an area I had not visited before. I met Jill on a gloriously sunny afternoon and she showed me round. These were grand estate gardens back in the day, and now everyone can benefit from the winding trails and thoughtful planting that was done, just check out the trees in the picture above. We listened to the birds and the sound of running water; we stood on a bridge and looked out onto an area where the burn had once been formed into an ornamental lake with a fountain and imagined what it would have been like to retire at the end of your day to the Swiss cottage that used to stand above it. Do check out the photos of the area on their facebook page, and then go and visit yourself! Our walk will be going live on Go Jauntly soon. Also, put 15th April in your diary, which is when the Drawing on Green Spaces exhibition opens at the Low Parks Museum in Hamilton.
As I am writing this, nature is providing me with an experience of awe. Moments ago the sky was fairly grey and cloudy, now the sun has appeared, just as it is setting; the sky is alight. I got up to look out of the window, and a couple of people had stopped in the street to take photos. This is what nature can do to us, if we let it. I am already looking forward to next week's Awe session which is going to focus on nature connection. In the meantime you can check out the Awe app here.