Awe (noun) – a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.
We all have experienced moments of awe, when you see or feel something which creates a feeling of overwhelm mixed with excitement and surprise all in the one moment. Physiologically your eyes may water, you feel goosebumps and your jaw drops. Whether these moments happen at the tops of mountains, whilst peeling some pomegranate or deep reflection through Qur’anic verses, awe moments are remembered and can at times be life changing.
Even when we are feeling low, moments like these can be a pickup, and create a shift in your mood. Awe moments can create shifts as discovered in recent scientific analysis we understand that these awe moments actually have a deeper intercellular movement going on which is good for our health, ‘awe experiences may bring with them a host of physiological, psychological and social effect, for example studies have found that feelings of awe can be accompanied by heart rate changes, goosebumps, and the sensation of chills, and there is some evidence that awe may even decrease markers of chronic inflammation’ – John Temple foundation.
Dacher Keltner one of the leading professor of psychology in the study of awe and writer of the book Awe says ‘one simple prescription which can have transformative effects: Look for more daily experiences of awe’
Whilst writing this article I sit next to my dear mother, reflecting on this substantial being in my life who has carried me for 9 months, those unrepayable months, I’m so appreciative for having her in my life, knowing and understanding the challenges of motherhood, she did this job with 3 other children in tow. This thought brings me watery eyes, goosebumps, and warm fuzzy feeling inside…my awe moment for today! May Allah SWT always keep her content and happy. Ameen.
Although research is in its early stages some findings of the benefits of awe experiences include;
Improving mood, more satisfied with life, it’s better for your health – may decrease inflammation markers (however further studies are required to confirm), help sharpen the brain and think more critically, may decrease materialism – appreciating experiences more, creates humility and a change in perception of ourselves to the larger world. Awe may also make you more generous and co-operative, whilst you feel more connected to other people and humanity.
If you’d like to create more awe experiences in your life you could: enhance time with Qur’anic reflections and spiritual connection; learn about Allah SWT, His attributes and that will most certainly fill you with awe!; go for a walk in a new direction and notice new things around you; stand under a large oak tree and look up; watch a video on the universe; reflect on one single part of our body eg hands and the internal workings of it; there are so many things we can do to awaken us from monotonous daily grind to create change and inspirational moments.
The Qur’an clearly reminds us in Surah Ar Rahman Verse 13 ‘Then which of your Lord’s favours will you both (Humans and Jinn) deny?’ In Surah Ar Rahman Allah repeatedly directs us towards His creations, starting with Qur’an, humanity, speech, the sun and the moon, the stars and the trees, the sky, the earth as well as fruits, reflection on any of these can create awe experiences. Allah also states ‘Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the alternation of night and day, there are signs for men of understanding. (Surah Aal-Imran verse 190) How beautiful are these verses which are awe in themselves, so many verse of Qur’an which do the same, I always feel in awe of Allah SWT when I reflect on the last verse of Surah Al Mulk Verse 30 ‘Say: Have you considered if your water should go down, who is it then that will bring you flowing water?’ Subhan’Allah!
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