Every day I wake up to some mind-blowing piece of news. Something wonderous, unimaginable, incredible – often to do with the latest scientific and technological discoveries and developments. We really do live in the ‘Age of Awesome’.

Last week I read about a runaway super massive black hole that was accidently discovered by Professor van Dokkum from Yale using Hubble images. Its speed as it tears through space is heating up the gas around it, giving birth to stars in its wake. The wake is a gas trail longer than 200,000 light years, twice the diameter of the Milky Way galaxy, serving as an incubator for hundreds of thousands of new stars.

This story caught my eye because for as long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by all things space. A visit to a planetarium as a young child led to incredulity about the vastness and scale of the universe and its unfathomable time frames. As I continued to read and learn more and more, I recall how that growing awareness filled me with awe and wonder – resulting in my life-long practice of stargazing.

Reading the article about the black hole hurtling through space at an unimaginable speed, birthing stars in its galactic wake took me back to that sense of childhood wonderment.

It prompted me to reflect on the extent to which we can preserve our sense of awe in an era when we are constantly surrounded, even bombarded by, ‘awe’some revelations. Could we be in danger of developing ‘awe-fatigue’ where we take for granted amazing new discoveries?

Awe is triggered when we encounter something inexplicably vast or extraordinary.

That sense alone can help us to feel connected to something larger than ourselves. It lifts us out of the mundane, makes our spirits soar and untethers our imagination.

It is interesting to note that research suggests that there is a positive correlation between experiencing awe and good mental health. A 2012 study published in the journal Emotion found that people who reported experiencing more awe in their daily lives also reported higher levels of well-being, greater life satisfaction and purpose, and lower levels of stress and burnout. Similarly, a study in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science in 2017 found a correlation between the experience of awe and higher levels of compassion and empathy. So, being ‘awe-inspired’ can literally help us to feel better.

This blog is a gentle prompt to remind us to find the experiences that evoke within us a sense of awe and wonder. What does that for you? Music or poetry that moves you deeply? Nature in all its glory? Sunsets? The night skies? Whatever it is – make time for them regularly.

By cultivating a sense of awe and wonder, we improve our mental health, nurture our well-being, and develop a deeper appreciation for the world around us.