Have you noticed how your appreciation for something increases when you know it's about to end? Perhaps you savour the views on the last day of your holiday. Maybe you hold your kids more closely just before they leave for school camp. It could just be relishing an extra 10 minutes in bed before the alarm goes off!
Whether you know it or not, in those precious moments when you really appreciate what's happening in the here and now, you're practicing the sacred art of coming into the present moment. It's a delightful experience of mindfulness that has long term positive effects on your health and wellbeing.
Whether you've heard it from your yoga teacher or read it in a self help book, it's likely you've come across the instruction to ‘come into the present moment.’ That's sound advice, but how can you practice that on a day to day basis and what are the benefits?
Being present means letting go of ideas from the past and projections into the future so that you can fully appreciate the present moment. An every-day way to practice this is to is to take some extra time to savour things around you. Most of us were taught to focus on the end result – pass an exam, get a job, find a partner, hit a deadline, achieve a goal.
Consequently, we’re very good at living in the past (ruminating, comparing or projecting past experiences onto present moment activities) and excellent at living for the future as we set goals and race ahead to achieve them. What we’re not taught is how to enjoy the journey along the way. We postpone our happiness, convincing ourselves that tomorrow will be better than today. How often do we go on autopilot and fail to savour the present moment? There’s a big difference between munching on food while watching TV and eating mindfully and being aware of every aspect of the experience.
Several studies have shown that people who are good at savouring are also more self-confident, extraverted and gratified. (Bryant 2003). Sounds good? Here’s how to practice the art of savouring.
How to Cultivate Savouring
1. Relish the mundane
In a 2006 study, psychologist Martin Seligman and his team asked participants to take a few minutes each day to savour something they usually rushed through – like walking to the bus stop or finishing a meal. As a result, the study participants showed significant increases in happiness and reduction in depression.
Find as many opportunities as you can to celebrate good news. Congratulate friends and family on happy events and achievements and celebrate each bit of good news to the fullest. No piece of good news is too small to mark with a celebratory meal or phone call.
3. Savour your favourite things
Put together a scrapbook that contains images, writings and items that you can savour. These may be photos of your family, a favourite poem, a picture of a painting that makes your heart sing. Take time every week to savour the contents of your scrapbook (you can do this on Pinterest too, but there’s something special about holding the images and words in your hands!)
Savouring is one of the techniques we explore in the meditation courses at Adore Yoga and our teacher trainees learn to share this simple happiness enhancing practice with their students. If you'd like to know more about learning meditation with Adore Yoga, you can find out about the next available course here.
Nikola Ellis is the founder of Adore Yoga, yoga therapist, counsellor and teacher trainer. She conducts regular trainings that help people of all ages, shapes and abilities enjoy the benefits of yoga and meditation, including Meditation Facilitator Certificate Trainings; Level 1 200hr Teacher Training and Post Graduate Yoga Teacher Training in Mental Health, Adaptive Asana and the Foundations of Yoga Therapy and a highly regarded professional 650hr Graduate Certificate of Yoga Therapy.