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Jamie Lauren Zimmerman, MD Headshot

On Savoring Life

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2014-03-04-Reeses.jpg

When I was a kid, my mom and I would split a two-pack of Reese's peanut-butter cups. She usually ate hers rapidly. I would take tiny little nibbles, letting first the chocolate, then -- as I approached the center -- the peanut butter, melt slowly and blissfully into my mouth. The flavors would burst and overflow -- so joyous, so divine -- and I was often left with 80 percent of my peanut-butter cup, when she had already polished off hers. Sometimes I'd give her a portion of my remaining food. Other times, I would continue to enjoy my cup.

Either way, I felt this approach made so much more sense. I enjoyed the food for much longer, while eating the same or a smaller amount.

Isn't life like this? Isn't the quality of our activities, rather than the quantity, most important?

When we rush from activity to activity or get lost in thoughts, we can sometimes find that hours pass without actually appreciating their texture. It's like eating a meal without paying attention to the food. When this happens regularly, we miss the sweetness of life.

Isn't savoring our lives at least as important as enjoying Reese's? For, like chocolate, this moment will be gone in a flash. So, it's probably worth paying attention to.

Of course, life doesn't always feel like our favorite food. Sometimes it can be really rough, sad, downright painful. Even in these moments, our awareness can prevent us from adding suffering to our pain.

Our awareness is like the sun that's always shining behind the clouds, even on the dreariest day. It's always available to us. When we bring our full awareness to a painful moment, we can sometimes soften into it. Or at least cultivate spaciousness around the pain, so that it doesn't feel so constricting. Maybe, as we notice the pain, we can bring compassion to ourselves and others. And, if we can pause for long enough, we can choose a wise response to reality of the moment.

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. -- Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor

When we breathe and into this gap, we can choose a response that is more compassionate, kinder, more loving. A response that won't create more pain.

And, sometimes, just sometimes, we can find some sweetness in the midst of the sorrow. Like a rainbow that emerges on a rainy day.

I don't know about you, but I want to taste my life fully. I want to live my life fully.

No matter the weather, mindfulness helps us with this endeavor. And, as much as I relish Reese's, savoring life seems even more important.

Adapted from a post at: www.sharonsalzberg.com.

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