”Learning to pause”, I say, because pausing absolutely does not come naturally to me.  I was abashed to discover years ago, early in my journey of self awareness and discovery, that in my family it wasn’t OK to rest…not acceptable to take a pause.  As long as there was somebody doing something  — the dishes, tidying, any old chore would do — one needed to offer to help, or just simply just get up pitch in.  Sitting on the couch?  Nope!   Don’t even think about it.

So it has happened that resting has not been a natural thing for me.  It resulted in a kind of drivenness. I’ve written before about this, my agitation, ‘never enough’ feelings.  (What’s the Hurry? Slow Down! and Devouring or Savouring? for example.) I’m not proud of this, but it’s good to see and own.  So when I came across Tara Brach’s talk, The  Sacred Pause, I was really touched.  I found both the talk and the meditation valuable.  She says, “When we are lost in the trance of doing, our lives are on automatic, and contracted by sense that something’s wrong or missing.”   Sound familiar? It does to me.

Most everyone knows, in principle, that pausing is good.  Taking a rest, relaxing, breathing, walking, going slowly, is getting a lot of good press these days.  Here’s Thich Nhat Hanh on the topic:  Smile, breathe, go slowly.  

Hard to rest

I know all this in principle, and still have challenges in practice.  So I’m moved to share some concrete benefits I am finding from practicing The Sacred Pause.  When I get fired up, wired up, — working at the computer, making a salad even — I still can find myself falling into my deeply grooved patterns…but occasionally now, instead of getting agitated, even frantic, I am able to catch myself and STOP! Yeah! What a relief! I can feel my heart rate lower, can sense and appreciate what’s around me, I relax and smile 🙂

But it’s not a snap. Even now after much work, where many days are often a kind of lovely flow and quite enjoyable, I still discover that I get going really fast, doing several things at once, not being present to myself at all.  

Taking a pause really changes things.  It helps to actually say, “Stop”, and to do it.  Stop, notice, become present, sense inside, relax. Learning to pause flies in the face of nearly all my standard habits.  It’s so simple, and/but not easy, at least for many of us, including me! Tara B again: ‘Explore the challenges of learning to pause, and the blessings that arise when we step out of our incessant mental and physical activity and reconnect with the being-qualities of presence, wisdom and love.”  

The Sacred Pause

We are in this together, and I would be really pleased to know if/how you are learning to pause…how and when you incorporate taking a pause, or sacred pauses, into your life.

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback, forwards, tweets, likes are most welcome. We’re in this together! 🙂

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