What does savour mean? Fred Bryant and Joseph Veroff best describe the term as to notice and appreciate the positive aspects of life, which is also the positive counterpart to being able to cope. Savouring is more than experiencing pleasure but rather, paying conscious attention to the experience of pleasure. (p.5). Savouring PPIs (Positive Psychology Interventions) focus on a particular experience and enhancing their overall effects for lasting happiness (Peterson, 2006). Savouring interventions encourages us to grab at every aspect of an experience, be it sensory, physical, social, or emotional (Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2009).
Savouring can often be confused with practicing mindfulness, but the two are not entirely the same. Savouring is connected to everyday experiences, such as eating, smelling, or observing, only with more orientation and focus to what we are consciously doing (Bryant, Smart, & King, 2005). Savouring PPIs can also be used to reliably treat depression and mood disorders, as these interventions produce happiness and self-satisfaction (Bryant, 2003).
We can learn to savour in our everyday lives through deep engagement of our senses and the environment around us. When we interact with our surroundings on a deeper level, we perceive our experiences as meaningful and important. When we focus on every aspect of our experience, we will later find that our minds accurately capture the experience and we can relive it at any time.
When it comes to the Jewish art of savouring, Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf writes that we need to fine-tune our senses to become more fully absorbed in the moment of a mitzvah, in our vision, sound, and accompanying feelings. When we savour the practice of mitzvoth, we keep our spirituality alive, whether we are eating the Afikomen on Passover or dancing at a wedding. The art of savouring awakens within us a love for G-d and His commandments. When we engage in every moment, we learn to celebrate life, and absorb the totality of every step we take.
There is no holiday more apropos to savouring than the holiday of Passover. Upon concluding the Seder, Rabbi Apisdorf explains, Jewish law instructs us not to taste anything after the Afikomen. The Seder night is conducive to the art of savouring: we discuss ideas, feelings, and create images of our ancient past in our minds. Parents teach and children learn about a time when their ancestors were slaves and were eventually freed. Through discussion, ideas, and togetherness, families grow together spiritually, savour their night of freedom, and feel different than they were yesterday.
What benefits can be gained through savouring? Dr. Martin Seligman tells us that when we savour, we become aware of the pleasure of positive experiences because of the conscious attention we paid to the experience. Now all those benefits are locked away and can be recalled at any time; we can evoke the feelings and emotions as we previously experienced. Our mind brings back the sounds, sights, smell, and feelings. What does savour mean? It means that when we savour, we can always save the benefits for a later time through our vivid memories. When we savour the Jewish practice of mitzvoth, we will be encouraged to continue doing the good that we do, and to build upon our past deeds. We will also find our love increasing manifold for our Creator.