I’m remembering the last time I was at the beach. It was in March. My family and I hadn’t been on a road trip, even a short one, for over a year due to COVID-19. We decided to escape for the day and drove to the Oregon coast.
I remember the freedom we all felt as soon as we stepped onto the sand, the feeling of aliveness, and the joy and beauty of it all. Feet sinking into the sand as I walked, the salty smell of the ocean, the cool wind on my face, and the sound of the waves crashing in. The light was spectacular that day. Big storm clouds in the sky and light sparkling on the water. I felt so free and light after being stuck at home for so long. I bring this experience to my mind and body to remind myself of the joy of the day and to extend it.
It’s a practice called savoring that I learned from Deb Dana, author of The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation (Norton, 2018). Savoring regularly can interrupt the normal human negativity bias that we all have and help to build pathways of connection in our systems. It’s also simple for many of us, free, and takes very little time. A regular practice of savoring can build our capacity for more positive experiences, despite the challenging circumstances in our lives.
Steps to Savor an Experience
It’s ok if other thoughts come into the experience. In fact, it’s likely that they will. When they do, you can simply move on.
You can savor the same experiences again and again or new ones as they arise. If you think of it, next time you have a positive experience, try to hold it in your mind and embody it. The benefits come from practicing this skill and really feeling and extending those joyful experiences.