Friday, October 7, 2011

Savoring by Bill O'Hanlon

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, to savor is "to appreciate fully, enjoy or relish." Savoring involves paying full attention to something in one's experience. Savoring also involves engaging in the experience. Too many times in our busy, multi-tasking life, we miss the actual experience we might be having. It is said that few people who visit the magnificent Grand Canyon in the American Southwest actually see it directly any longer. They only see it through the digital camera or video screen they have in front of their eyes so they can see later what they would have been seeing if they'd bothered to look.

Savoring is not equal to pleasure, but refers more to appreciating and noticing and engaging in some experience. One could even savor a bitter-tasting food, or a feeling of melancholy.

One can distinguish three ways to savor one's experience:
The first and most common type of savoring is Present-Oriented Savoring, in which one is enjoying and engaging fully in some experience in the moment.

Some activities one might do to experience present-oriented savoring are:
  • Cellphone-, email-, TV-, computer-free time periods
  • Sensory focus moments (using visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory or gustatory senses)
Watching sunrise or sunset
Feeling the breeze with eyes closed
Smelling food or environmental scents
Tuning in to bodily sensations
Tasting/savoring food
Slow eating with no distractions
  • Mindfulness practices
  • Tuning in to feelings of the moment
The next is Past-Oriented Savoring, in which we vividly recall something we experienced and treasured in the past. This type of savoring might also involve reliving or re-experiencing a significant experience by telling it to others.

Some activities one might do to experience past-oriented savoring are:
  • Replaying happy days
  • Keeping a savoring photo album
  • Remembering acts of kindness
  • Recalling best moments
Last is Future-Oriented Savoring, in which we anticipate something good we expect to or want to have happen in the future. These are essentially vivid, engaging daydreams.

Some activities one might do to experience future-oriented savoring are:
  • Vividly imaging an anticipated event
  • Imagining what the future without some current hassle or problem would be
  • Exploring your best possible future self
  • Detailing the components of your ideal day