The Beauty and Awe of the Natural World
The Internet provides a window into seemingly unlimited awe inspiring imagery. I've been stunned by some of the landscape photographs that I have found. My search for inspiring photos includes regular visits to the nasa.gov website to view the photographs and to learn about recent discoveries. With so many space telescopes in orbit and all the planetary probes operating, it's really hard to keep up with all the images being posted! A recent article in the magazine Psychology Today, by Christopher Bergland, discusses the power of awe. The article includes quotes from a study published in the Journal of Personality and Psychology. That article's conclusion states: "Our investigation indicates that awe, although often fleeting and hard to describe, serves a vital social function. By diminishing the emphasis on the individual self, awe may encourage people to forego strick self-interest to improve the welfare of others."
The Psychology Today article also cites research by Marghanita Laski, published in her book, Ectacy: In Secular and Religious Experience: "Marghanita Laski found that the most common triggers for transcendental ecstacies come from nature. In particular, her survey revealed that water, mountains, trees and flowers; dusk, sunrise, sunlight; dramatically bad weather and spring were often catalysts for feeling ecstatic. Laski hypothesized that feelings of exstasy were a psychological and emotional response that was wired into human biology."
If you agree with these findings, than you may agree with me that we all need a good dose of awe on a regular basis. If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where the night sky is not too obstructed, then you have a wonderful way to get inspire by the glorious and transporting view a star-filled night sky can provide. Meditating outdoors, with eyes open, can also work. With a stilled mind, there are many ways to engage your sense of wonder even on an "ordinary day". Photographs can also stimulate a sense of awe and wonder, even though they provide a less dimensional experience than "being there". On the other hand, a photograph can take your imagination to places you may never reach, such as the awesome planet Saturn! In prior editions of this newsletter, I discussed how art can bring about transporting and transpersonal experiences in the viewer. I wonder how paintings and photographs compare in their impact on our consciousness to just sitting peacefully in nature. Certainly, each has its place in enhancing the richness of our lives.
The photographic imaged included with this newsletter is titled, Singing Cactus. I took this photograph in beautiful Nicassio, California. The cactus grows on a favorite trail my wife and I frequently walk. For some really awe-inspiring photographs by other photographers, visit my Pinterest board. The next issue of this blog will come out around December 8th. My print on demand website is http://www.bob-eige.artistwebsites.com.