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Who Took the Awe out of "Awesome?"


I’ll venture a guess that you’ve heard that word within the last few days. Maybe even the last few hours. You might not remember what prompted that exclamation. Understandable, as it may have been something as ordinary as the light turning green as you approach the intersection, or your favorite yogurt being on sale at Safeway. Not exactly noteworthy.

Who took the awe out of "awesome?"

Exhibit A


Awe is the feeling we get in the presence of something vast that challenges our understanding of the world, like looking up at a millions stars in the night sky or marveling at the birth of a child … or watching the leaves of a ginkgo tree turn from green to yellow …

I do my best not to be irritated by others (that would not be yogic, after all), but it does get my dander up whenever I hear the word “awesome” nonchalantly tossed around like a handful of pennies. You know, when it is synonymous with “that’s great,” or, "Cool!" Why am I so bugged by this? I miss the meaning of the word before it became so prolific. As a bit of a cultural historian, I'm curious as to what year “awesome” was first appropriated, and the sublime became the mundane. (I also dabble in cinema studies, so I imagine it may have been sparked by a movie.)

What would it be like if the world could reclaim that word? If we were to reserve it for moments of actually being in awe? To make it once again precious? If we could undo saying “awesome” about the commonplace? I wish that we could reserve “awesome” for things not the norm…

In a moment I’ll cease my rant about a simple word, but not before noting that true awe, in its sweetest sense of being, can be something simple. It doesn’t have to be as grand as the canyon. It usually appears when we least expect it, right under our nose. Like when your dog tips her head as she looks up at you, or you marvel at the exact color of blue sky. The key to finding such awe is also simple, if not easy. Cultivate awareness. Not to leave you in the lurch, I'm offering a swell serving of practices to that end (make that beginning) in September, keep reading.

In my mind, "awareness" is synonymous with Yoga. Which is to say, yoga is not a pose, it is a state of being. Yoga is “life’s moments of pure joy and concentrated awareness,” to quote my friend Inge. Practiced mindfully, the poses can be a portal to that state, if we are open to its experience. Awe, too, is a state of being.

News flash! I have to insert an edit here.

Would you believe I just had not one, but two spontaneous awesomes in the same day? Sometime ago, I requested two books from the library. I just now picked them up. Their titles hint at awesome. I can’t wait to immerse mySelf in the content.

1. An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, Ed Yong.

As the writer Marcel Proust once said, "The only true voyage ... would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes ... to see the hundred universes that each of them see."

2. The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again, Catherine Price.

When we encounter something in our lives or environment that sparks *delight, no matter how small ... point a finger at the thing in question--or if it's not a physical "thing," raise a finger in the air and announce, out loud and enthusiastically, "Delight!"

* Hmmm, delight = awe? Could be! I invite you to delight in delight!

A question for you, gentle reader:

Can you recall the last moment, however simple, you truly experienced something awesome? A penny for your thoughts!

Here’s what I hope is an--awesome--takeaway for you. Scientists have found that to experience awe prompts a clear mind. Can you recall the last moment you experienced a clear mind? If the answer is a bit cloudy, I get it.

I'd love to help you "get it," too. The opportunity is just around the corner...

I invite you to:

Press Pause with Barbra Brady:

Three Saturdays in September

To Uplift & Empower Your Life.

Simple practices to help you shift from anxious overwhelm to calm awareness, and uplift your soul.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Exhausted? Ever felt like your mind is spinning on a hamster wheel? Does "focus" feel out of focus?

There’s a yoga for that! Join Barbra to learn simple, sustainable practices of yoga, relaxation, community, and self inquiry to install an enduring balance to your life--

to make ease ... easier.

The three-part course allows time and space for this new found ease to steep on a deep, lasting level. You'll go home with accessible practices, and a renewed mindset for a lasting state of being in your truest Self.

September 10: 1:00-4:00pm

September 17: 1:00-3:00pm

September 24: 1:00-3:00pm

Venue: Sonoma Yoga, 577 5th Street West, Sonoma.

Investment for the Three-Part Workshop:

Early Bird price before September 3rd: $108, $149 thereafter.

Contact Sonoma Yoga to sign-up, 707-935-8600.

Please contact Barbra with any questions,

*Note: I’ll be guiding a practice at Sonoma Yoga on Sunday, August 26th, 4:30-6:00pm that will be an “appetizer" for the course.

I’ve missed so many of you, and hope you might join me in September!

…This September, you may just find yourself with a renewed spaciousness of radiant rest and awakened clarity.

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