Savoring in the Face of It all

Can you feel it?

I know you can.

The world is pressing on you – the suffering, the uneasiness, the restless “get me out of here, make it safe again” feeling.

People are worried, edgy, afraid. For good reason.

How do you savor life in the midst of all of this?

Here is what I and the gals at the Savor & Serve Cafe are doing:

  • Knowing that not only does small count, small acts of services is all we can do – because we are not gods and goddesses – yet.
  • Massage our faces and necks and feet and hands and say “I am here” – being with our essential aliveness is so important right now
  • Remind ourselves it serves no one to not savor life because others are suffering
  • Forgiving ourselves for the hundred times a day when we don’t savor our lives – not letting it become an perfectionist goal
  • Make small gestures of connection like taking a meal to a local Japanese family to lighting a candle at here to giving a dollar to Philanthroper
  • Not telling ourselves stories that our writing and meditation and projects are insignificant – practicing self-full service by attending to our heart’s desires
  • Practicing being aware that there is no security – and finding comfort in that knowing
  • Validating the significance of these events because it connects us to each other and letting that ache be the connection
  • Looking for – and creating – stories of compassion, connection, resiliency– rather than the sky is falling or I can’t do anything so I might as well eat Ben&Jerry’s and watch America’s Top Models
  • It helps too – hugely – to recognize that you may be in a crappy, fearful, snappy mood and to name it to someone you trust. We do that a lot at the Cafe and even on Twitter. Name what it is. Drop your story about the feeling and feel the feelings.

I noticed today I am skipping my meditation and yoga practice today – wanting to run away from feeling, from being with these feelings. I’m having mercy with myself but also knowing that each step I take away from being present with what is – in all it’s unfathomable vastness – is a step toward shutting down, toward living in a box – and that is less and less appealing.

So far what I’ve learned about savoring in the almost one month of this experiment: it’s a deeply spiritual practice. It is not for wimps.

What helps you savor in the face of this loss? I would love to know.

 


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Melissa - March 15, 2011

Jen, Thanks for another great post. For me it helps during dark times to aim for small bites. Getting grounded with five minute savors, a few minutes of mindfulness, a small lovely thing–one flower, not a dozen. Being fully with my breath. I think when it’s hardest, I most benefit from doing something physical–not just being IN my body, but remembering that I AM my body. And giving myself permission to just do it all one. step. at a time.

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Rebecca Johnson - March 15, 2011

your idea to massage my neck and face gave me the idea to wash my face and then spray some rose water on it…I feel like there isn’t much I can do about the BIG stuff…but this one little thing I can do…and who knows…maybe after I do this one little thing… I can do another little thing…and another…or not. Either way it’s ok.

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    I can feel it!

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Janice Cartier - March 15, 2011

Jennifer,
Savoring in a time of extreme suffering is like being able to taste sweetness, bitterness, saltiness and sourness with a bit of Umani tossed in all at once. The key for me has always been to look for balance. Not forsaking one part of the palette in spite of another being overwhelmed… we have to allow for all of them. Incorporate all of them as we go about our day and extend whatever gifts or strengths we may hold, extend them to ourselves as well as to those who suffer.
I am a Katrina Survivor. I only watch the news a little at a time…And wonder, what is it I have to give to them? And I take special care to take care of myself so that I may possibly find that thing. Lovely post.

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    Janice, lordy, that is beautiful, thank you!

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jenn - March 15, 2011

Hi Jen,
I find meditation is the only thing I want to turn to in times of outer turmoil. The still quiet place within is deeply comforting, and hugely beneficial to my nervous system. Plus I limit the amount of news I watch, hardly any TV, skim the headlines, and in yoga, we send our OM’s and Shanti’s out to the world. I also love to put on soothing music and it reminds me to breathe.
It’s true that if we’re not really anchored, it’s compelling to flee. Recently my teacher said, Look, just do what you can, sit for as long as you can, and don’t beat yourself up about it. (I’m paraphrasing). The more agitated the mind gets, the more I need to rein in those horses….check out http://www.wopg.org for video clips and quotes on inner peace. (words of peace)
thanks for this thoughtful post,
jenn/musemother

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    I do the same with my om’s – first one to me, second to people I know, third to the world in need. so good

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Bridgdet - March 15, 2011

I find the easiest way to savor and serve is to touch. To hug. To hold. To pat.

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    especially four leggeds!

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Lisa - March 15, 2011

Listen to music that soothes my spirit. Send love and light out into the world. And absolutely, feel the feelings…all of them.

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    i can see you dancing!

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Dinah - March 15, 2011

“Remind ourselves it serves no one to not savor life because others are suffering.”
It is always helpful for me to remind myself that it serves no one for me to be in a state of lack, of suffering, of pain, of doing without. It doesn’t take away their pain, poverty, insecurity, illness, etc. Interesting how we unconsciously just to that conclusion however! It’s seems automatic. That’s why bringing the story we are telling ourselves to light helps. We become conscious choosers within our lives vs. reacting unconsciously. Big difference!

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    exactly wise one!

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mary anne radmacher - March 15, 2011

So far in the day I’ve tripped, sworn, lined the cupboards in my new kitchen, sworn, worked, answered email and sworn again. Swearing-tripping-too-much0-to-do-in-one- minute days and I don’t encounter each other very often. So. I trip. I swear. I sit and drink hot tea and then I line more shelves. And I recognize that:

We are a resilient bunch, we humans. Look at all we survived even in those moments that we wondered, “How in the world?” Just ‘fessin’ up, as you suggested, Jennifer, makes me feel a whole lot better. There is, indeed, so much sweetness to be found in this world…and when I’m done tripping and swearing, I’m going to see it and connect to it!

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    I know you connected, on this wild rainy day, and I’m tripping with you!

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Amy - March 15, 2011

Yes, Jen. Yes.

For me, like the others here, I go for the small simplicities in times like these. Appreciating the view from my window. Snuggling with my babes. Reading poetry that soothes.

And I appreciate the reminders of what we CAN do for our Japanese cousins, our Libyan friends, all those who are hurting beyond belief. Donations, words, acts of kindness. I can make a difference today.

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    Amy, yes, snuggling with it all, in a way.

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Katy Taylor - March 15, 2011

simply being with myself now. can i breathe and feel myself now? what is here to savor now? can i sense into the flower in my heart now? can i touch quiet Mind now? it’s all about what’s here now…

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    Katy, so precious, thank you for those words!

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Joanna - March 15, 2011

Finding the “sacred third” between despair and joy is the challenge . . . but I believe this is what we’re called to do. To stay centered and full of gratitude and not to let the despair run us ragged. A friend whose life work in improving livelihoods for the world’s poorest people said today that the important thing is to be giving from our personal abundance all year round, not just when disaster strikes. I’ll quote her:

“I give to the World Food Program for disaster relief every year and I give to the Clinton Foundation for long term development every year. This gives me a sense of calm and relieves at least some of the guilt and helplessness that these tragedies bring forward because I know my gifts were there in advance — I was not caught off guard.”

I thought that was eloquent and brilliant.

Thank you Jen.

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    Yes it is! So brilliant, thank you for taking the time to share it here. That is savoring and serving!

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Susan Gallacher-Turner - March 15, 2011

I wrote in my blog over the weekend, about my feelings of insignificance and just like you, today, find myself not getting my yoga, meditation done, avoiding my heart’s desires. Why? Guilt…selfishness…smallness…fear…sadness…

But You Are SO Right… “Not telling ourselves stories that our writing and meditation and projects are insignificant – practicing self-full service by attending to our heart’s desires” and “it serves no one to not savor life because others are suffering”

All I can say is…Thanks, I needed that!!!

And NOW thanks to all of you…it’s off to the studio and writing desk I go with music in the background!

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    i hope it was a delightful time!

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drmolliemarti - March 15, 2011

Your not for wimps comment both made me smile and feel deep gratitude for your courage in leading this grand experiment 🙂

It is an incredibly trying time for many of us who are called to serve. The demands on our hearts are deep with our brothers and sisters hurting around the world coupled with many of our clients experiencing new and immense challenges and looking to us for guidance.

Just as we tell our clients that baby steps matter – we need to remind ourselves that small acts of savoring and serving DO matter. Your tweet to me today that my recent week of increased savoring/creating white space did not take away from … but increased my service … was a small act from you – with a big impact on me.

Your point of being with what you’re feeling – while continuing to look for and create stories of compassion, connection and resiliency – also grabbed my heart. Thanks, Jen.

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    happy happy happy making – thanks Mollie and so glad you had white space!!!

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Emmanuelle - March 15, 2011

My boyfriend and I went to Japan last August, a dream come true for us.
When the news of what happened sank in, I was lying on my couch, sick with a flu, too weak to get on my mat or even focus in meditation.

What am holding on to? on the fact that I am a yoga teacher trainee, already teaching. That I, along with my fellow yoga teachers / yogis and yoginis across the globe, in our humble way, do some good in this world. There IS good in this world, and it starts right here right now with each and everyone of us.

We can make a difference 🙂

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    there is good, so much good, and we will continue to see it! thank you Emmanuelle!

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Kristin Noelle - March 15, 2011

This ritual is helping me a lot: http://tinyurl.com/4b2uly7

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    What a glorious ritual and post Kristin, it struck me so!

    Reply
Incredibly fun conversation w Jen Louden — Susan Piver - March 15, 2011

[…] we touch on her fantastic new initiative, Savor & Serve, writing, creativity, making a living, marketing while trying to be creative, being creative while […]

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jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

not selfish at all! at our meditation intensive this weekend, that was the most oft repeated phrase, “no matter what, I’m okay” it’s so deep and so vital to remember

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    Leila - March 16, 2011

    I want decisions, choices, generosity toflow from a place of love and grounding if at all possible – although compassion arises from sorrow and empathy of course. Truth being if I had my way I would probably not watch the news at all and remain relatively uneducated about the world. I know that is considered terrible but…truly terrible, terrible things happen in the world all the time, closer to home, in our hearts, our homes, with our neighbours and yes further beyond. I already have a hyper awareness of this fact. So for myself at least I am not served by having an awareness of suffering all of the time – so I protect myself as much as I can by being careful what information I let in to my space.
    And yes I meditate. i take one day at a time. I breathe. I use acupressure. I sleep well. That said – i look forward to feeling somehow thicker skinned and feeling able to give more to the world beyond my sphere. But until then I trust that we all have smaller and larger ways of giving to the world – personal and political and all are valid and worthy and helpful on some level. So good to hear everyone’s lessons and experiences too. Thank you Jen!

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      jenniferlouden - March 26, 2011

      and so good to hear yours!

      Reply
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Dcfog - March 16, 2011

I am sending healing and strengthening INTENTIONS to everyone in Japan, and to everyone in our universe–and sending out my gratefulness that I can look out my window and see the pines, the wildlife, and the sun poking through the clouds here in E. Washington State.

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    jenniferlouden - March 26, 2011

    well said.

    Reply
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jenniferlouden - March 26, 2011

oh Marion thank you!

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