When I lost my health due to stress and overwhelm in 1994 (or was it 1993, I don't remember, truthfully, life was a blur at the time), I didn't know where to turn for a solution. All I knew was that I was deeply, deeply, tired and just plain worn out.
Somehow, I knew to listen to that tired self who encouraged me to bend down even lower, put my inner ear next to my body, and pay attention to what it said it needed to be well. Organic healing from the inside out.
I paid attention to what I thought and felt through writing (journaling helped). I rested—a lot! I walked the beach for hours and simply listened to the waves lapping upon the shore, seagulls dipping and soaring overhead. Actually, I didn't do much of anything at all but to BE ... and I looked and listened deeply to what was going on around me.
I immersed myself in the present and allowed that "method" to begin to heal what ailed me.
I somehow knew that savoring was part of a healing process. (I'd been moving too fast to savor much of anything up until then.) Savoring is the act of allowing yourself to be absorbed into and to fully enjoy—to appreciate— your current experience, whether it's looking at a brilliant sunset or sipping a cup of flavorful tea.
Webster's describes it this way—perfectly. "She wanted to savor every moment: relish, enjoy (to the full), appreciate, delight in, revel in, luxuriate in, bask in."
(That was me then. It's still me today.)
Savoring saved me. Savoring brought me back to the simple blessings of a slower-paced, more intentionally lived life.
Walking was and is one of the avenues I use to savor. Thich Nhat Hanh style, when I walk, I walk. I try not to think too much; just take in my present experience. Doing so allows me to log in what I see as a pleasant experience—especially natural beauty.
This week I'm reading Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson. He affirms what I've learned organically about the healing power of savoring with some of neuroscience's newest findings. Dr. Hanson calls savoring "taking in the good." He writes, "When you take in the good, stay in the present, enjoying what is flowing through your awareness without trying to grab it as it goes by, opening to it so that it sinks into you."
It's the sinking in part that neuroscience speaks to. When we take in the good, "feel good" hormones take over, cortisol is minimized, and beneficial neural connections are made. He recommends staying with your experience for at least 10 seconds to let the process kick in. The more we do this, the more our brain changes, the more new neural pathways are created; pathways that can bypass old ineffectual ones that are conditioned to send us messages of stress and anxiety (and so much more).
In time, we'll feel inner struggle dissipate. Peace comes. Happiness arises and decides to set up housekeeping if we stay attuned to the good, the right, the true—that which nourishes body, mind, heart and spirit. We are, literally, retraining our brain to "see" the good and, as a result, we reap the benefits of body/mind ease, open-heartedness, and "at-one-ment" with life as it is.
For me, savoring—this taking in of the good—is one of the most self-compassionate things I can do for myself. That any of us can and should do for ourselves if health and healing is our heart's desire.
(That's a "good should," by the way. ;-)
May you savor something today and feel the body/mind benefits of supremely en-JOYing yourself wherever you are.
p.s. The lilacs pictured above are from my latest walk. They were the most fragrant lilacs I've ever smelled ... in my entire life ... no kidding.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.