Savouring the moments


by Marcus Loane


24/12/2009

 

How to extract maximum value out of any moment.

 

 Often in our lives, our thoughts are not on what we are doing, we are thinking of something else and this can prevent us from really savouring what is going on in the present. Trying to do too many things at once can also have the same effect. An example of this is eating while watching TV which can result in having very little memory of the eating experience.

 Here is an exercise to practise savouring the moment. Next time you are eating, really focus on the experience. Eat slowly and notice how it feels and sounds in your mouth. Notice the colour, taste, weight, texture, moistness and aroma of each mouthful. Think about the ingredients and picture them growing in a field or being flown in from their country of origin. Imagine all the ingredients coming from different areas in the world eventually coming together to give you this experience.

 You can apply these techniques to almost everything you do. When talking to someone you can give them your full attention and really be interested in them and try to understand the world the way they do. This is especially important with those closest to you, your spouse, your child, your parent. The general idea is to be much more observant than you usually are and try to notice things which you normally glaze over. Having breakfast with your husband or wife? Imagine it is the first or last time.

 This can feel a little like a game which you can play at any time and it is a great strategy to really appreciate being alive. Another example is when you are having your morning shower you can notice the sensation of the water hitting you and revel in the pleasure of it rather than thinking about what you have to do that day. You can learn to savour everything and everyone you encounter as if for the first time, or through new eyes. It is about making the familiar new and experiencing the world with curiosity and wonder. Doing this is like turning up the resolution (the level of detail) in your everyday experiences. Part of it is noticing raw sensations from all the senses. It has been described as “mindfulness” or being more "present" in your life. When doing routine chores such as washing dishes, rather than rushing through them and thinking of what you need to do next, you could notice and enjoy the sensation of the warm soapy water on your hands, or notice how the light reflects off the bubbles and creates interference patterns.

With intention, you can find ways to enjoy each moment of what you are doing.

 A useful goal or intention is to try and never wish it was any other time than the present moment. Sometimes I catch myself wishing something was over and I will quickly correct it because life is short and I do not want to waste one moment of it. If you are wishing you have finished something and wishing it is later in the day or week or year, then it is difficult to be content and happy in the now. With practice you can find ways to extract something positive out of nearly every moment, even if it is to regard it as a valuable learning experience which makes you more patient, wiser or more serene. If you have the intention to be happy in the present moment and look for aspects in everything you do which you enjoy, then your life becomes a string of moments, most of which are engaged, content and happy.

 On your drive to work you can look for things you have not noticed before. In your interactions with people, rather than falling into your usual role and demeanour you could say something unexpected and sincere (I've always admired how you...) or ask a personal question (do you find life gets better or worse as you get older?) to learn something new about them. You can inject novelty and memorability into your day by stepping outside of your usual patterns. Take a walk at lunchtime. Visit a shop you have driven past for 5 years. Make conversation with the staff. There are so many simple things you can do to add texture and nuance to the everyday. Rather than just reacting to events and living on autopilot, you can create your day, like a work of art, moment by moment.

 Savour your moments. They are your life.

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