"We have found that awe—leads people to cooperate, share resources, and sacrifice for others, all of which are requirements for our collective life. And still other studies have explained the awe-altruism link: being in the presence of vast things calls forth a more modest, less narcissistic self, which enables greater kindness toward others."-Dacher Keltner
Our focus today is- awe. I live with a fair amount of awe (I live in the foothills of the Rocky Mts. after all) but I underestimated it's importance, to all of life. It goes so far beyond personal happiness and health- it keeps us going as a society! As a culture! It may be what has kept humans alive as a race- the way we work together and help each other. I mean, hot damn!
Dacher Keltner says "Awe binds us to social collectives and enables us to act in more collaborative ways that enable strong groups, thus improving our odds for survival."
And here's the real kicker, awe actually affects our cytokines! Cytokines are what raise an inflammatory response to illness or immune invaders, etc...an over-active cytokine response leads to chronic illness/pain/shortened lifespan, etc....So the more awe we have, the more this inflammatory reaction chills the f%#@! out. Yup. Not only does awe make us better people from the inside out, it helps us feel better from the inside out! Ahhhhh. Awe.
You know who really lives in a state of awe? Wonder Woman. I went to see the movie last night and for the first time in a while, I truly let the smallness of my own life go, and entered another world- a world in which her love for life and all living beings outweighed everything else. She felt awe for love. For life. And she fought for it. So yes, it's a movie, but also, it's more. I felt awe for the entire world that can be created and lived in a mere two hours, awe for the bigness of it all, awe for how freaking undeniably perfectly beautiful Gal Gadot is. Wonder Woman is Awe-some-full. And going to the movies was a such a freaking relief to the hell hurricane I've been caught in. Awe got me out of the cocoon of my own personal shit I have woven for a few air-conditioned hours.
On Sunday I told my husband I was trying to create an awe-full playlist for class. He told me, "uh babe- the word's awesome." But it didn't go far enough. So in class today, we co-created awe-some-full-ness. And that's what we danced. We danced in awe of these bodies, each body part and it's abilities and pleasures and pains. We danced in awe of the music and the creativity and life force expressed. We danced in awe of each other and the infinite ways we can move and express and be ourselves, we danced in awe of the community that continues to build each class, enfolding each new dancer that arrives into the unconditionally accepting tribe of Awaken the Dancers. And it was awesome.
Here's what the dancers had to say:
"I noticed I could access a deep well of awe and internal exploration that's new to me when I dance with my eyes closed, all this untapped information in there! And when I open my eyes, I am critical of my female body. Noticing that contrast."
"Ahhhhh = awe."
"I'm awe of the fact that dance is the cure-all for me. I've had the best dances the last two weeks even though I've had the worst weeks. Thank goodness the dance is this good even though life is this hard right now."
"I feel so alive right now and I'm so grateful!"
"I kept my eyes closed a lot today, and I danced in really awkward and strange ways today and it was awe-some! It felt so different and off-kilter and it was a great lesson for me, for life, for everything. It felt so really really needed. I just did whatever my body needed to and my body just did what it needed to do."
"I'm in awe, recognizing what a privilege it is to be inside and internal and staying at home. I've been practicing the art of doing by not doing, and I'm grateful to be able to do that! And I'm aware of the should voices...and being with all of it."
Dance Invitation: When do you experience awe? What is the experience like for you? How can you cultivate that more, and maybe even, direct it towards your own body-being? How can you dance the awe you have for the miracle you are?