Finding Awe at MEA.

March 19, 2023

Finding Awe at MEA.

May 29, 2023

Have you ever experienced something so powerful that it leaves you in awe?

As defined by Dacher Keltner in his book "Awe: The New Science of Everyday Wonder and How it Can Transform Your Life," awe is the feeling of being in the presence of something vast that transcends your understanding of the world. Based on research from 26 countries, he identified eight wonders of awe: moral beauty, collective effervescence, nature awe, music, visual design, mystical encounters, stories of life and death, and epiphanies.

When people talk about finding awe, they usually talk about seeing something like Machu Picchu or connecting with their soul at Burning Man. Most people describe awe as "peak experiences," flow, joy, bliss, or enlightenment. An example of nature awe comes from the man observing a double rainbow in his Yosemite backyard and posting the video, generating over 50 million views. Worth 3 min of your time to see one man’s awe experience.

A couple of weeks ago, I was awestruck with all 8 wonders of awe in 7 days - at MEA.

#1: Moral Beauty

I sat on the yoga platform, watching the sunset over the Pacific. Following a day of uncovering deeply buried emotions and witnessing my compadre’s courage opening their hearts, my eyes were filled with tears. Psychologist Alan Fiske proposes that we tear up when seeing acts of "communal sharing." The MEA's mindfulness teacher, Teddi Den, walked by and sat beside me. At that moment of compassion and kindness, I felt not only lifted but loved.

#2: Collective Effervescence

From birthday dance parties, baking bread, “mentoring stones,” sunrise yoga, hikes above the ocean, walks on the beach, learning to surf together, collective effervescence filled the Baja salty air. I'm still buzzing with the life force that Dacher Keltner says merges people into a collective self, a tribe, an oceanic "we," solidified by some Peter Gabriel's beats.

#3: Nature Awe

Too many whales to count that week, but one particular animal came right into the surf at dawn. An early morning invitation to follow her along the beach, merging a whale and a human into a "peak experience," realizing how insignificant we are.

#4: Music

Deeply human and touching Music and Poetry sesh, and our own faculty member Zee Clarke's violin skills filled an afternoon with beauty and human connection.

#5: Visual Design

The lush tropical gardens, turquoise pools, colorful Mexican tiles, and bright Frida Kahlo paintings, MEA’s campus transported me to a different world. An oasis in the desert to rejuvenate your soul and reimagine a brighter future, came at the perfect time.

#6: Mystical Encounters

Saul, the local shaman, held my hands at the top of the mountain, while our eyes found our souls. Magnificent frigate birds, ospreys, and brown pelicans flew silently below us. A shiver ran down my spine. Up there among the rocks, the cactuses, and the starry sky, something awoke in me, discovering the "primary, good, and larger than the self."

#7: Stories of Life and Death

I went to Pescadero to spend a week with someone I deeply admire - a mentor, rebel entrepreneur, creator, and genuinely amazing human being on a mission to serve humanity. Ram Dass says: "How you spend your life in each moment is the rehearsal for death. Be here, now." Dealing with uncertainty about his medical condition, Chip exudes nothing but presence.

#8: Epiphanies

Epiphanies (or Baja Aha's) are united facts, beliefs, values, intuitions, and images into a new system of understanding—too many to list here, but one stands out - we’re all interconnected.

When we open ourselves to everyday awe, life becomes richer.

"How does awe transform us? By quieting the nagging, self-critical, overbearing, status-conscious voice of our self, or ego, and empowering us to collaborate, to open our minds to wonders, and to see the deep patterns of life," writes Dacher Keltner.

They call it MEA, but it can easily be called the Eight Wonders of Life Club. Your experience and mileage may vary, but it's worth a try. I’m not surprised my cohorts picked “Alchemists of Awe” as our cohort name.

Awe may just be the secret to unlocking the good life.

We only need to pause, open our minds, and be fully present.


Milena Regos is an MEA Alum, founder of Unhustle, on a mission to inspire individuals and teams to redefine success and reclaim their flow, well-being and impact. She lives full time in Baja. Follow her 365 days of finding awe on her Instagram account.

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