Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Advice

I’m not big on advice, but what the heck, it’s my blog. So here it is. It might be fun to practice savoring during the holidays. When savoring, one experiences the specifics and detail of the present moment. Noticing all the different aspects of an experience might include sounds, smells, textures, tastes and emotions.

For instance: I’m lying on the beach. I feel the sand warm under my back. I smell the ocean and sunscreen and feel a light breeze play across my face. My hair moves slightly against my cheek and I feel my eyelashes meeting above closed eyes. Along with the surf, I can hear the occasional shriek of a gull and children off somewhere playing and calling to one another. I'm relaxed. I feel still, at east and connected.

I could go on with my observations (and wishful thinking). Notice what I didn’t include. I’m not worrying about what’s going to be waiting for me when I get back to work. I’m not wishing I was on a beach in Cannes instead of Florida. I’m not thinking I should get productive and take a walk or read. I’m not looking at my watch, checking my email or texting.

You can savor anything. We are all familiar with the idea of savoring a fine wine, cigar or other gustatory experience. Have you ever savored a success? Getting the promotion, finishing the dissertation and completing your first 5K are all opportunities for savoring. So is listening to a symphony or smelling a rose.

So my holiday advice: Find a few things (or many) to really savor and enjoy. Maybe it’s a special food someone makes at this time of year, or the giggle and smile of a particular niece, or the walk you have the time to take in the crisp winter air. Make the most of these experiences and be really present for them. If you’re used to being on the run and multitasking, it may take some practice, but I think you’ll find it well worth the effort. And it’s good for post- and pre-holiday times as well.

For more tips, see an article about the Harvard Medical School Portable Guide to Stress Relief.

A song that captures savoring and the holiday mood: Let it Snow

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