The Practice of AWE

May 20, 2020

Dr. Heather Alexander is a local physician and is also trained in mindfulness practices. She has been offering retreats about mindfulness at our Center over the last few years. Heather has a passion for encouraging people to live well through being more present to the moments of their lives and living with more compassion. She sees this as her way of offering peace to our world that is so in need of healing. Heather will be presenting “Mindfulness, Stress Reduction and Connecting with God” at our Center on September 26. Click here to learn more. Let’s learn more about how a mindfulness practice can help us during this uncertain time.

The Practice of AWE

We are all experiencing a wide range of emotions during this global COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting changes in our lives. It is important to pay attention to how we are feeling without judging ourselves and to take care of our emotional health. I will share a mindfulness practice that we can do when experiencing difficult emotions such as anxiety.

When faced with a difficulty, our focus tends to be laser sharp on the problem. It can seem all-encompassing, affecting every area of our lives. Our focus becomes very narrow. When this happens, we are not as available to ourselves, to God, or to others. We should not judge ourselves when this happens. This is what our minds do, and it is useful for survival. With the pandemic, our day to day lives have changed in ways we did not expect and could not predict. There may be feelings of a loss of control. We may feel ill-equipped to face what is being asked of us. These challenges may be mixed with pleasant experiences, such as being able to slow down our pace of living, perhaps recognizing what really matters to us. It may seem like we are on an emotional roller coaster.

With mindfulness practices, we notice what we are experiencing and bring kindness and care to our experience. We learn to be with our emotions without being overwhelmed by them. We do not deny them, bury them, or push them away.

Picture a drop of dark ink in a small glass of water. Then, picture the drop in a larger container of water. Picture that same drop of ink in a lake or an ocean. In the practice I will share, we are, in a sense, finding a larger container in which to hold the difficult emotion we are experiencing. This better allows us to hold our experience with kindness and compassion. This practice helps us broaden our sphere of awareness around what we are encountering, allowing ourselves to take a step back and determine what may be needed, what may best serve us and others in the moment.

The practice I will share is described by the acronym “A.W.E.”. I learned this mindfulness practice from a presentation by Jessica Morey, MA. “A.W.E.” stands for “And What Else?” We look at what else is here beside the discomfort we are experiencing. In AWE, we engage each of our senses: our sight, our hearing, our sense of smell, our sense of taste, and our sense of touch.

Click below to experience a guided audio practice of AWE:

In practicing AWE and expanding our field of awareness, we are better able to recognize the AWE of the presence of God. We can remember that God is with us in whatever it is that we are experiencing.

May you be blessed, may you be encouraged, and may you be well.

~ Heather Alexander, MD

If you’d like to learn more about Heather and her mindfulness practices, visit her on Facebook at “Live Well Mindfully”.