Savoring the Pleasant: A Supportive Practice

Supportive Practice

You can use your mind to change your brain to change your mind for the better.

Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Neurodharma and BeingWell Podcast

I first learned this simple practice of savoring the pleasant from Dr. Rick Hanson. He writes and teaches about the cross section between neurobiology, mindfulness meditation, and psychology. 

Many psychologists, including Dr. Hanson, suggest that humans have a negativity bias. This is evolutionary and was intended to support our survival. However, it does not always serve us now. Thus, we have to retrain our brains to tilt toward the positive. Because of brain plasticity, we now know that we can grow new neural circuits in the brain, thus hardwiring happiness. One way is to pause and soak in a positive experience when it happens, or even recollect the positive experience at another time. Let’s give it try.

The Practice

Practice as a Guided Meditation (5 Minutes)
  1. If you are experiencing a positive or pleasant experience, pause (skip to step 3).  Otherwise, take a moment to recall a recent experience that brought a smile to your face or felt good. It can be small, brief, ordinary.

  2. If recalling, visualize the scene with a lot of detail. The point is to get back into that moment.

  3. As you recreate this experience, allow the sensations that were felt arise once again in the body. If you are currently experiencing, bring your attention to the sensations in the body.

  4. Where do you notice these sensations in the body? What do they feel like? Perhaps a warming sensation or sense of ease or relief. Perhaps you notice a lack of feeling like tension or anxiety. Allow this positive experience to sink into your cells like water soaks into a sponge. Allow yourself to be embraced by this positive experience for about 20-30 seconds. This is a gift to yourself. It is food for your brain, for your mind, for your body and your heart.

  5.  As you move back into your day try to be attentive to the goodness that surrounds you. Allow yourself 20 seconds to soak it in. See how this affects the rest of your day, the rest of your week.

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