We’re still in that time of year when we challenge ourselves to create new and healthier habits. The newspapers are full of specials for gym memberships and packages of yoga classes. Many of my friends have resolved to work out for 45 minutes a day, or meditate for 15 minutes a day, in the efforts to retrain their brain chemistry and lock in a new pattern of being.
As I’ve thought about what I most need and what might provide me with a new boost of energy and hope, I’ve decided that I want to have a solid daily chunk of at least five minutes of what I am calling ‘extreme awe.’ I’m talking about an experience of uninterrupted appreciation for and marveling in what is going on around me, one where I don’t cut short my experience of the wonder that is warranted everywhere I look. It’s a fitness regime of reveling in the sheer amazingness of it all.
There is so much to marvel at: the delightful perfection of a riff of live music; the spectacular color-fest of a sunset over the ocean; the pleasure my dog derives from getting big air leaping for a ball on the beach; the smell of an amazing meal coalescing in my kitchen; the feeling of flexing the ‘strategy muscle’ in my mind as I think through a campaign to make the world a better place. My senses are offered a feast at every turn of things that, when viewed as they really are, can take my breath away, if only I let them.
My commitment to a daily “five-minute marvel session” emerged because I noticed something absurd happening as I went about my busy days. I would notice myself in that amazing state of awe and appreciation, spontaneously marinating in marvel at something, and then, as I would notice myself in it, I’d cut it short, end it before I was complete. It was as if there was a threshold, a maximum allotment of awe or a statute of limitations on appreciation that I was enforcing on my own experience. It happened so fast—getting caught up in the wonder and bliss in one moment, and then cutting it short in the next. So of course it seemed vital to build a practice of sitting fully, patiently, extravagantly in that sense of awe.
So far I’m finding that as I embrace the marveling, indulge in the appreciating, my sensory awareness deepens and the quality of the experience is greatly enhanced. Letting the wonder run its course, even egging it on, seems so right. I feel too as if my acts of appreciation are rewarded at every turn. For example, as I allowed myself to fully receive the gift of seeing the beauty of the ocean the other day, I lingered longer than usual, and a pod of dolphins appeared before me.
I’m also beginning to sense that the “five-minute marvel session” is important cross-training for a broader regime of spiritual fitness I am committing to this year. This sport of ‘extreme awe’ is preparing me to be excellent in ways I’ve yet to understand, but I’m convinced are key to my future. I am pretty sure I’m on to something, and I hope you are taking time for it too, and that you will pledge along with me to give yourself an authentic experience of the full gamut of wonderment for what moves you. If you take five minutes to marvel, right now, what do you see? What gifts are revealed to you? Share your experience in the comments below.
Marvel away, for at least five minutes a day, and see what happens!