"My research on the awe response identified at least eight common characteristics that almost every report of the experience contained:

"1. Whether awe was experienced in reaction to a natural phenomenon, an original idea, or a person, there is an experience of a sense of vastness that far exceeds our prior imagination and general explanatory system.

"2. Awe involves an experience of a diminished sense of self as the naturally created and defined boundaries of 'self' and 'other' become blurred.

"3. Awe is characterized by a feeling of anticipatory fear far beyond surprise that is sometimes elevated to the level of dread.

"4. As if the discovery of the 'something more' we've been looking for is more than we can handle, there's a feeling of an altered state of consciousness more focused on what exists 'between' than what's 'inside.'

"5. Awe is accompanied by distinguishing physiological changes, including goose bumps, chills, stuttering, gasping (with the feeling of having the breath 'taken away'), gaping mouth, raising of upper eyelids and eyebrows, deeply wrinkled brow, increase in heartbeat and/or a feeling of skipped beats, and a sense of warmth and openness spreading out from the center of the chest.

"6. Awe results in a sense of a severe challenge to our 'mental set,' resulting in the need to decide between 'accommodating' the awe experience through creating new ways of thinking, feeling, believing, and behaving; or 'assimilating' what happened by briefly enjoying it and returning back to one's prior way of thinking and being.

"7. Awe is often accompanied by a sense of, or intensified search for, contact with or becoming closer to God, the gods, unimaginable enormity, 'something more,' or a 'Higher Power.' It more often results in more searching and deeper understanding rather than a sense of closure.

"8. Awe comes with an intensification of the need to connect not only with what inspired awe but to make a commitment to more loving, caring, protective relationships with others and the world in general."