Savoring a Summer Shower
I was sitting in my home office with the window open a few days ago. It had been a typical Oregon summer in the northern Willamette Valley—some wet days early in the season, followed by a long dry spell. But on that day, the forecast predicted cloudy skies with maybe a chance of a shower or two. As the day wore on, I watched the skies darkening and the breeze picking up. And then…the smell! It struck so suddenly that it startled me, and it was amazing! People who know about such things call the smell of rain hitting dry earth “petrichor.” They say it emanates from a combination of the precipitation, decomposing organics, plant oils, and a chemical called geosmin. While that all may be good and true, to me, it simply smelled like magic. So, just for a moment, I put aside my work and closed my eyes. I started to breathe in the aroma and pay attention to the sensations as each breath hit the back of my nose. I realized I could feel the cool breeze through the window and that I could hear the raindrops falling on the leaves of the trees outside. With each breath, I felt a little lighter, a little more relaxed, a little more…here.
Mindfulness practitioners call this “savoring.” The practice of savoring has many benefits, not the least of which is helping you feel less busy on a busy day. Research shows that it has positive effects for helping reduce hopelessness in depression, minimizing stress, and mitigating the effects of family conflict in balancing work and life activities.
You can savor the present moment—like a summer shower, or a good meal, or a slow walk around the neighborhood. You can savor the future, perhaps by anticipating sharing good news with a friend.
You can also savor the past. This is my favorite. I call it “snapshots”—like lingering on a favorite photo in an album or gallery. Recall something pleasant from the past few weeks, or maybe a treasured place or experience. Imagine yourself in that “snapshot,” using as many senses as possible. What sounds do you hear? What scents do you smell? Who is there with you? What can you touch, or taste, or see? Notice what you feel as you do this. For me, often my shoulders drop, a slight smile comes over my face, and time slows down, just a little bit. I keep a real snapshot of my favorite place on my desktop, to remind me to pause and savor the good feelings once in a while.
There are many ways to practice savoring —why not give it a try?