We do a lot of “awwwww”-ing in our world today. Today, emotional media is run on sentiment, nostalgia, and an ever-increasing amount of ‘cute’, which varies in the definition. What we don’t do anywhere near enough of in our world today is “awe”.
Awe, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is quite the cluster of experiences all rolled into one. As a noun, awe is “an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by the authority or by the sacred or sublime.” Meaning, awe is that overwhelming, confusing, rushing, exhilarating, slightly terrifying thing that comes over us when we feel the presence of something greater than ourselves, something pure, something that brings us wisdom, something grand- something sort of like nature.
Jason Silva, futurist and modern philosopher, simply stated that “Awe is the best drug in the world”. When we’re looking to create a world of recovery for ourselves or for a loved one, especially an adolescent or young adult, we’re looking to create a world which doesn’t necessitate drug or alcohol abuse. We’re looking to create a world which transcends the limitations of their varying mental health issues, which helps them relate to and experience the world through healthy exaltation rather than excessive self-harm of any kind.
Awe is a small science which impacts recovery in a big way, particularly through nature. Greater Good Science Center Magazine wrote about wilderness therapy programs in April 2019, citing the various contributing factors toward their success like challenges, green space, and time in nature. The article lends credit to a study led by Craig Anderson which “…suggests it could be awe- that sense of being in the presence of something greater than ourselves that fills us with wonder,” that makes wilderness therapy programs so transformative.
Participants spent days doing river-rafting in either California or Utah, filling out reports of their well-being before and after their trip, as well as keeping daily diaries of their stress, mood, emotions, and life satisfaction. According to the article, “At the end of the trip, participants’ well-being had increased dramatically, with youth particularly helped by the experience. Analyzing the diary entries, the researchers discovered that awe- above and beyond any of the other positive emotions- seemed to explain these improvements.”
To supplement the study, researchers looked at the effects of everyday nature experiences, not just the exhilarating kind found in activities such as river rafting. Still, it was proven, that people who spend more time in nature feel more satisfied with life and experience more awe- just by stopping to enjoy the flowers, admire a sunset, or take a look at the sky.
Wilderness therapy is more than an experience, it is a life-changing experience for mind, body, and spirit.
RedCliff Ascent is a therapeutic wilderness program, nestled between two mountain ranges in the high desert of Enterprise, UT. We focus on adolescents ages 13-17 who are struggling with various challenges from anxiety and depression, to school abandonment and the need to reconnect with their family. With over 25 years of experience, RedCliff uses a relational model and narrative therapy to drive an outcome and an evidence-based approach. RedCliff Recovery offers an experience like no other through a proven, 12-step, adventure-based wilderness program. For more information, call us today: 801-921-8488