Sunday, November 30, 2014

Simply Savor

We just hosted Thanksgiving with my sisters, their partners, my niece and three family dogs. There were nine people at our table and we were all grateful to be together and share an outstanding meal. Our menu: Baturducken (a chicken inside of a duck inside of a turkey, wrapped in a bacon lattice), stuffing, roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower (olive oil, garlic and rosemary), chai mashed sweet potatoes (mascarpone, butter, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon), celery root and butternut squash gratin, homemade cranberry relish, pumpkin and pecan pies. The leftovers were as good if not better than the main meal.

Our family guests stayed for two nights. I am always grateful when I see my extended family members, as well as any guests we have in our home or people we share meals with in other venues. I am becoming increasingly aware that my siblings and I keep changing as we get older, our kids are all growing so fast that it's hard to keep up with their developments, and a year can pass without me even realizing I haven't talked with certain friends in far too long.

My father-in-law once mentioned to me that we are all "slipping away" from each other day by day. This is a true statement. This life we live is not permanent. Nonetheless, we cherish it. The fleeting nature of all relationships, all experiences, all emotions--this impermanence reminds me to savor every pleasure to the fullest, which is something that's easy to forget. I can be very forgetful. I forget to really look at my children when they are talking to me. I forget that this face they have today will be not be the same even in a few months. I want to look at their faces now. I want to hear my husband's voice now, really hear it...he is pretty loud in general, but I still want to hear him with my full capacity for hearing. I want to hear him now before we slip away from each other.

I want to taste and smell and see and hear and feel my life while I still have it. I want to savor it. There is an art to that. It's not just automatic. To truly savor anything, we must be present to it, and to ourselves. Presence is also an art, and it must be practiced. How do we practice presence? How do we teach ourselves to be fully present just where we are? I try to teach myself through yoga, through savoring my breath and my movement, savoring rest, savoring direct sensations. When I meditate, I practice savoring stillness. I know that if I train myself in these ways, the ability to be present and savor the other parts of my life will come easier.

In this month of gift preparing and gift giving and generous gathering with friends and loved ones, our spiritual practice, our physical practice, all of our practices can be aimed toward the goal of savoring all of our gifts. Our very life is a gift. In the grand scheme of the Universe, if we blink, we can miss it. I don't want to miss mine. I need my yoga practice to help me be present to my life.

This life and this body are gifts I wish to simply savor; therein lies the gratitude.

When we savor each moment, fully present in our experience, there is no past to cling to or future to anticipate; so much of our stress can dissolve that way.

Do something each day to train yourself in this art.

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