I want to start this blog with “I am often asked what drew me to taking my coaching up into the mountains” but honestly no one ever asks that – they just say “OMG that is such a great idea!!!” There are so many benefits to being in the mountains from the physical activity side of things, different flora and fauna, extraordinary views, as well as the peace and quiet. All of this can help us tap into the emotion AWE.
Awe is an emotion that is getting more and more attention from a psychological perspective. It is one of the main benefits of being in nature. In terms of mountains we come face to face with the majesty of our planet – it is literally creation right there in front of our eyes. They are constantly shifting – ok at an incredibly slow rate – but there is something visceral about this connection to evolution. So… what are the benefits of awe?
Mountains are the perfect place to consciously experience AWE. Going out with the intention of experiencing awe invites us into the here and now – it makes for a much more mindful experience and ensures we NOTICE what is around us. As well as noticing more, research suggests that experiencing the emotion Awe is linked to improved complex cognitive processing which can lead to enhanced clarity of thought & decision making (Shiota, Griskevicius and Neufeld 2010). This in itself can be a game changer in the complex world we live in.
Being in the mountains provides a high definition spectacle which is just a tad more engaging than a computer screen!! The view changing every hour of the day secures your focus and awe on the extraordinary setting. Research also shows that mountain views and looking out onto the horizon can activate the parasympathetic nervous system (Joye & Bolderdijk 2014).
According to a study by Melanie Rudd, professor at the University of Houston, being at the top of a mountain increased research participants desire to create and learn. This is thought to be due to the mountain scenery creating a safe environment for your mind to be open and creative.
Awe is different to other positive emotions in which we tend to rely on existing knowledge & stay in our comfort zones – ie I’m feeling good and therefore there’s no need to change. Experiencing awe allows you to adjust your way of thinking without the potential negative feelings often associated with change. How different could that be?!
For more information about the benefits of spending time in the mountains I highly recommend a book by Ned Morgan called In the Mountains Of course you could also take this one step further and take a look at my coaching adventure in the Alps!
So what about the majority of us who can't access the mountains on a regular basis? Well, my invitation is to get outside and explore wherever you are! I am incredibly grateful to live in an area where the headland is just down the road - this picture was my view this morning HOWEVER awe can be experienced anywhere. I remember when I lived in London I used to find pockets of green, or head to the highest point in order to find a view. Awe isn't just found in green spaces - it's found wherever you look for it!
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AUTHOR: ANNIE LEE
Annie is a coach, coach supervisor & coach adventurer! Warmth, depth & joy sum her approach up in a nutshell!