At a recent Mindful Practice in Medicine facilitator training workshop participants were asked to lead contemplative practices. One of the participants invited us to focus on the word savor and to explore aspects of savoring as we sat together for the next 10 minutes. During this exploration I considered the many ways we go about developing the capacity to and the practice of being in the present moment.  These include how we offer our presence to others, to oneself, and to this very moment. This participant showed me how new words or new explorations of known words can function as powerful prompts to rearrange habitual patterning of framing and conceptualizing ideas, activities, identities, goals, and desires. After this practice, I dove right into the rabbit hole of an inquiry of savor.

As a verb, savor often translates into something along the lines of to taste, to delight in, to taste or smell with pleasure, and to enjoy. Other definitions include to delay or be tardy in acting or doing, to dwell in expectation, or to abide or stay in or at a place. As noun, savor includes the taste or smell of something, a particular flavor or smell, and a distinctive quality. Synonyms include words like enjoy, relish, enrich, revere, value, and even venerate. Another related word includes linger, and this word along with the already mentioned to abide in and distinctive quality are particularly interesting to me.

Among the various practices for cultivating the qualities of mindfulness, one common feature is to explore being with the flow of experiences as they arise, from moment to moment. I recall teachers of mine instructing me and others to “rest in awareness” and “take up residence in whatever arises in this moment,” and “make a home right in this present moment.” My experience of working with these and other instructions included lingering right in the here and now, abiding in the present moment, and opening to the distinctive and truly singular and distinctive qualities of now. And having explored these and other facets of savor, I find that as a word it serves as a useful reminder, description, and motivation for developing presence, finding meaning and joy (distinct from happiness), and for now at least, a larger frame for bridging the gap between contemplative practices and the true meditative practice, that of living one’s life.

So let us each savor, linger, and abide in the distinctive qualities of being alive, finding meaning, joy, and a true sense of belonging, which includes the receiving and giving, from day to day and from moment to moment.