The space between heartbeats, the pause between words, the moment before you take that next breath, the silence between notes. Some say the pause is where you glimpse the meaning, the music or the divine. Sometimes it’s where we meet our sadness or unexpected joy.
The pause is the place of possibility. It’s the space we create so we can make a choice rather than just react. The pause happens when we’re fully in the moment.
Susan David, author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life, says we often rely on our established patterns of thinking instead of responding to what is right in front of us. The pause gives us the space to see our automatic response for what it is and then think, do or say something else. Without it we become automatons.
She says we get hooked when we’re not acting according to our values or clear perception. Here are some common hooks that she mentions in her book.
This is when we blame our thinking for our behavior. For instance, when you think to yourself that someone is avoiding you because they don’t like you, and so take the action based on that thought to cut them out of your life. You don’t really know why they are avoiding you or if they even are.
The pause would help you think the next thought mentioned above, that you don’t really know what is going on with that person. From there you could take action based on curiosity rather than a made-up story.
This type of thinking takes you out of the moment. It’s a run-on type of thinking where you start with a reactionary thought. For example if someone is late for an important meeting, your thoughts start to fire off left, right and center about how they always do this and how you’re going to let them have it this time, etc.
If you took a pause, you would create the space to stay in the moment and not let your mind run wild and get you all worked up. You might also stop yourself from doing something that will only cause more trouble.
Old, Outgrown Ideas
These are ideas that you still live by but don’t serve you anymore. Like, all men are jerks or I’ll never learn how to swim. They once may have helped you. Maybe a man in your life as a child hurt you and so you made a decision to not trust. As you get older, that idea may hold you back. You may avoid jobs or other situations that include men, and so stunt your growth and life.
The pause would allow you to take a better look around and see that your old idea isn’t true. Though it may have saved you as a child, it is now only hampering your life.
Why do we feel the need to be right or to have our unjust treatment confirmed? Why can’t we let it go? Our energy is wasted on this type of thinking. When I have to be right or get the last word in, a rift is created in a relationship. When I can’t let go of the past or even the present in terms of someone’s bad treatment of me, I stay in the hurt. I make myself a victim of people’s actions or circumstances and not only drain my energy but lose my power to respond appropriately and in a way that takes care of me.
To pause in the middle of the need to be right or to be confirmed is to give yourself an opportunity to see what you’re doing and then choose something else.
One of the ways you can train your mind to pause is to practice meditation. This week, I’m giving away some meditation tips, book recommendations and other resources to help you create a practice that works for you. You can sign up here to receive it.
If you want to go deeper, A Spell in the Shadows eRetreat helps you relax into winter and these last days of 2017. The first week begins this Friday, Dec. 1 and is all about meditation. The whole program is focused on how to help you slow down and create a more meaningful time during this sacred and hurried season. When you enter 2018 with the ability to pause in grace and gratitude, life becomes so much richer. It’s how you begin to live life from the heart.
Learning to Live