During a recent visit to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I experienced the awesome sights, smells and sounds of nature every day: The colorful sandstone cliffs and Caribbean-blue waters at Pictured Rocks, the Lake Superior shoreline at Grand Marais making its way in sweeping curves along rocky beaches toward the sand dunes and sandstone cliffs, and the white pines and wildflowers along the Manistique River through Seney National Wildlife Refuge.
The combination of beautiful scenery, bird song, and the scent of the woods was like an anti-anxiety drug, seeping through the seams of my armor.
After returning home, I drifted through several days, still feeling the sense of calm I had absorbed from the woods, water and wind. I wondered how long it would last—hoping the serenity had taken hold like the delicate tendrils of the Everlasting Peas, or Sweet Peas, growing along the U.P. roadsides. Away from nature, though, the tendrils survived only three days.
I need to continue to nourish the tendrils with what’s awe-inspiring, according to a Stanford University study that found gazing at a beautiful landscape or listening to a majestic symphony may make people feel less rushed, more patient and more compassionate toward others.
Awe, the researchers discovered, gives people the sense that time has slowed down, resulting in feeling less hurried, more charitable and less materialistic. The participants reported that the small dose of awe provided a momentary boost in life satisfaction.
For me, nature journaling is one way to experience awe. What do you suggest?