“Have you ever gazed into the infinity of space on a clear night, awestruck by the absolute stillness and inconceivable vastness of it? Have you listened, truly listened, to the sound of a mountain stream in the forest? Or to the song of a blackbird at dusk on a quiet summer evening? To become aware of such things the mind needs to be still… beyond the beauty of external forms, there is more here: something that cannot be named, something ineffable, some deep inner, holy essence… Could it be that this nameless essence and your presence are one in the same?” (pg. 82 The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle)
I start with these words not only because they illustrate the point of today’s post so well but because I have always had a deep sense of wonder about the world around me and it has served me well. I have always sought the comfort of nature to take me out of the everyday grind but on a recent trip to California, one that I’m sure will not be my last, I came to a profound awareness that has shifted every cell in my body. I came to realize that in high concentration this feeling of wonder can change your life!
While in California I felt so alive and full of possibilities. It is a place I’ve been drawn to since I was a young girl but had never visited before. Maybe this was because I was traveling alone and creating my own itinerary or maybe it was my beautiful surroundings or the newness of it all. What I do know for sure is that this sense of “openness” to whatever may come made my experience, although I didn’t fully realize it at the time, in a word – magical!
Wonder is a natural state for me to be in when I’m not rushing about my day like everyone else. However, I seem to find something each day to wonder at. The sunset casting beautiful shadows on the clouds or the way the sunrise reflects its beauty on the building across the street sending all it’s windows into a fiery glow. Naturally, my state of awe took over and as you will soon find out I made it a point to stay “open” and let my intuition guide me.
While walking the streets of Catalina Island, I soaked up every inch of my surroundings. I etched every minuscule detail into my memory with a feeling of joy and aliveness. Looking back I realize now I was creating a cellular memory of this vast feeling. Although at the time, I was not actively aware of the memories I was creating. I also didn’t know that this was just a taste of what was to come. Later as I drove up the Central Coast of California and through the mountains, I was so filled with the beauty of my vista that I literally screamed in the car to myself. I felt that my heart might explode. The fullness I felt of joy and aliveness was and is indescribable. I felt that my senses could not possibly take this all in. What was happening to me? I began to feverishly snapped photo after photo at each stop of my journey into the wine country and surrounding areas. Once I had reached the ocean I was able to be present and breath it all in. This made me realize that my always healthy and robust sense of wonder was completely on overdrive. Instead of stopping it though, I melted right into it and let it take me over.
Over the course of the next few days this sense was on high alert and at times I had the feeling of not being in my body at all. I made a point of being by the ocean each day. I sat in the warm sand and inhaled the beauty around me. I felt so alive. The intensity of this feeling was taking me over but it was not foreign to me. It felt familiar of course but not like any other time I had felt being in nature. It felt like home but not like any other home I’d known before. My trip of eight days felt like I had been gone a year. My perception of reality was shifting and changing rapidly. I felt that I was letting go of so much while attaining this new sense of myself. Still unable to understand what was happening to me, I resigned myself to go with the flow as they say and be with it. It was not until my return to Toronto, a place that now felt foreign to me that I was able to integrate and articulate what I had experienced.
Just as was stated above in the excerpt from Tolle’s The Power of Now I had been awestruck and found the sense of stillness that is the present moment. Prior to this trip my analytical brain had only truly felt present during yoga, meditation and being in nature. While in California this feeling was amplified ten fold. Countless times on every part of my journey, looking back, I felt this powerful feeling of oneness of being truly alive. I was in full wonder mode everyday! I had been so open to all the beauty and newness of my surroundings that I had literally put this already healthy sense of childlike wonder into overdrive! I now know that what I was experiencing was a shift in my consciousness, in my perceptions, and in my world. I was glimpsing what it would feel like to always be in the present moment and not concerned about the past or the future but be here and NOW.
When you allow yourself to wonder at the world around you, even if it’s as seemingly insignificant as a squirrel running in front of your car, you allow this sense or feeling of awe to take over. This means you are opening up to the divine, to the stillness and the essential nature of who you are. As a result you touch your very soul. Never was this made clearer to me than on this trip. You might be thinking that this was because I was on a vacation. Perhaps, I do agree that taking yourself out of your comfort zone can also inspire such moments but I believe that this was just an amplification of my already natural state of wonder that had never left me from childhood. This is what I speak of. I have many times tried to explain this feeling of wonder to people. I have often described it as the feeling you get when you’re first falling in love. What I’ve come to realize is that it is that very same feeling but the love is not the romantic kind that we often fantasize about. It is the real love that is deep within you that is connected to all things that is essentially YOU!
So this feeling that I would normally get while hiking in the forest, or looking at a sunset, or being near the ocean was received in such a large concentration on this vacation for the purpose, I believe, of truly locking this state of being into me. I can now recall it any time I’m caught up in my mind and bring myself back to that feeling of intense oneness with all things, of Love. This moment of presence is the only time that you can make a true connection to that which we only perceive to be disconnected from: the divine in all of us.
The message I want to impart in this post is this: develop and feed your sense of wonder. Don’t go through your day on autopilot. Literally stop and smell the roses. I can’t begin to tell you how my life has changed because of this experience but I can tell you that having a childlike sense of wonder about the world around you is the way that you can connect to something greater than yourself every day. That sense of wonder is the place that you can connect to stillness, fill yourself with love, and find your true self. Don’t live your days asleep. Appreciate the living vitality in all things. I carry this feeling in my heart now locked in forever and it is my hope that you seek this out for yourself too. It doesn’t need to be on a vacation. It can start right in your own backyard or on your drive into work.