The Art of Pausing

In our technological age everything has speeded up. We don’t give things the time they need. We have forgotten how to be in rhythmic, organic time with our physical and spiritual selves. A deep self-courtesy is to pause long enough and often enough for our souls to catch up with our bodies and our over-programmed minds.

Phrases posted on Facebook June 2016

I watched a tango competition the other day and was struck by the small drawn out pauses between passionate explosions of movement. It made me wonder if the art of pausing isn’t the backbone of passionate living: something juicy to muse about in June.
Pausing to look before we change lanes or pull into traffic can save us from real crack-ups. This is true in navigating our relationships and our daily lives, too. It’s not only in our cars but also in our psyches that we have blind spots to take into account.
We can’t take back harsh words and judgments once spoken. To pause before speaking such is an art. In that moment of pausing we can choose a better means of communication. In essence that means we are choosing to honor our dignity more than a moment of quick retaliation.
Remember doing dot-to-dot pictures? With a pencil we drew from a dot to a dot and an image emerged that wasn’t visible before. Consider pausing as one of those dots. Find something in that moment to be grateful for. There is always something if we look deeply enough. Proceed through the day with dot-to-dot gratefulness pauses and by nightfall something will be very visible. I am certain we’ll never be sorry for doing this practice.
Senior moments are often unwanted pauses. But what if we used them not as occasions for feeling that we are losing it but as occasions for self-acceptance and humor? We’d find ourselves in kindness I think and probably also able to pick up the thread of our thinking that disappeared for a moment.
There are two key times to pause in the day that are central in spiritual traditions. One is first thing in the morning connecting with Spirit and centering our selves for the tasks of the day. The second is just before bedtime, renewing the events we have lived and surrendering everything to Spirit. Whether we believe in a higher power or not these two pauses are bookends for a life lived in more mindfulness.
Have you ever paused in appreciation before eating, looked at the food on your plate and enjoyed with your eyes and your nose what will soon nourish you? That pause will encourage us to dine instead of just wolfing our food.
A great sorrow demands the pause of reflection. Orlando is asking all of us to pause and to share unthinkable grief. It is in mutual pausing this way that horror can somehow slowly be integrated and held.
I like to pause before turning the key in the ignition of my car. It’s a chance for me to check that I can see rightly in all the mirrors, but also it’s a chance to be reminded that I am responsible for how I drive the car as well as how I steer my life in general.
At the top of my street is a yellow blinker. It tells drivers to slow down, to pause and be aware of not just the road ahead but of all eventualities. We get so busy sometimes narrowing our focus to our tasks, our phones, our tablets i.e. the road ahead. A yellow blinker – a cautionary pause – is needed to widen not only our attention but also our lives.
Taking a pause for pausing’s sake is, as a friend of mind says, to pause for nothing. There’s a lot of open space and unscheduled time outside of our agendas. Maybe we could call it soul time and soul space?
I like to take what I call tree pauses. On a walk I’ll find a likely tree, put my back against its trunk (bark to bark as a wise healer taught me) and then allow the tree’s lovely uplifting energy to clear and cleanse me.
Pauses can be moments of mutual respect. When we take a little time before speaking not only do our words have more power but also our listeners can sense we have heard them and are really focused on them. Such mini pauses take reaction out of our conversations. Though this is the last post on pausing I hope to practice this until it is a habit.