This is a picture of Kings College chapel, University of London, where I sang during my first degree. In 1985 I went on a tour of the South West of England (ironically) and we sang at Downside abbey. This is where I had an amazing awakening experience (The Psychologist, September 2018, Steve Taylor). The choir were practising with the organist, i.e. there was no congregation and yet I felt myself being filled with the most ecstatic joy and at the same time was hyper aware of everything around me and every voice and note. Unfortunately I cannot remember now so many years later what piece of choral music we were singing, but it is not the only awakening experience I have had. I have only had a handful, but they are quite common and now being researched by psychologists such as Steve as part of the positive psychology movement. They usually only last a few minutes and mostly happen with music or nature or during meditation, or surprisingly during grief or depressive episodes. They are similar but different from “flow”, which happens when concentrating on something and being so involved e.g. in sport or exercise that the moment feels effortless; and also similar but different from the small awakenings you get when practising mindfulness. Nevertheless they are moments to be cherished and I would like to hear about other people’s experiences. Apparently the three key characteristic are:
- Positive emotional states (including a sense of elation or serenity).
- Intensified perception.
- A sense of connection (to nature or others).