Awe as a Pathway to Mental and Physical Health

Author: Maria Monroy1, Dacher Keltner1
1 Department of Psychology, University of California, Berkeley.
Conference/Journal: Perspect Psychol Sci
Date published: 2022 Aug 22
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1177/17456916221094856. , Word Count: 116

How do experiences in nature or in spiritual contemplation or in being moved by music or with psychedelics promote mental and physical health? Our proposal in this article is awe. To make this argument, we first review recent advances in the scientific study of awe, an emotion often considered ineffable and beyond measurement. Awe engages five processes-shifts in neurophysiology, a diminished focus on the self, increased prosocial relationality, greater social integration, and a heightened sense of meaning-that benefit well-being. We then apply this model to illuminate how experiences of awe that arise in nature, spirituality, music, collective movement, and psychedelics strengthen the mind and body.

Keywords: awe; dance; health; music; nature; psychedelics; spirituality; well-being.

PMID: 35994778 DOI: 10.1177/17456916221094856