Just like you, my days are busy and full. There’s often a sense of urgency that I carry, and my go-to solution is to automatically try to do more and more each day so that sense of urgency can be quelled. Even with mindfulness as a core tenet in my life, I still have to remember that action doesn’t take me to my best, truest self. It’s pausing, just for a moment here and there, that brings me back to myself. My best and most knowing self. I believe this is true for all of us, and that we all are capable of finding ourselves in the pause.

What does it mean to find yourself in the pause? There’s a wonderful talk by Tara Brach called The Sacred Pause that talks about this extensively. I highly recommend it, even if you only have time to listen to a few minutes here and there. 

woman sitting on sand One of the ways she describes “the pause” is that it’s a stepping out of incessant inner dialogue and busy-ness. Even if it’s twenty seconds, “the pause creates a space that light comes through.” This is a rather poetic way of describing the effects of pausing, so here’s a way to describe it more clearly: giving ourselves a moment to pause tells us what we’re experiencing in the moment. It puts us in touch with a deeper part of ourselves, and generally, this deeper part of ourselves is the smarter, wiser part of ourselves.

How many times have we all raced ahead with our words and our actions? How many times has that led to real regret? If we’re furious, scared, stressed, or hurting, it’s way too easy to act from those places. If those emotions are in charge of that moment, what’s the likelihood that we’re making the best decisions? That we’re going to get the best outcome from our actions? It’s far more likely that we’ll do or say something that does more damage than good.

There are very real reasons that it’s hard to pause! One reason is that we are habituated to activity. Our culture is one that values action, and this tends to put us on autopilot. The other reason is that “doing” is driven by a primitive part of our brain. There’s an evolutionary part of us that knows that taking action can lead to safety (ie, get away from the threat). 

But this primitive brain only serves us in so many situations. It’s much less useful when we’re in a conflict with our kids, partner, boss, or friends. Big emotions often drive us into behaviors we’re not proud of. 

Think of this: if a dear person in your life reveals that they have a dire diagnosis, what’s easier for you? To rush to plan (medical appointments, research, making them food, etc), or to sit with them, saying nothing, and feeling what you’re feeling? What behavior creates more connection between you two, and what allows you more insight to what they might need in that moment? It turns out that we’re not only finding ourselves in the pause, but we’re able to find others there, too.

It’s the same with our kids. There’s so much we need them to know! As parents, the overwhelming concern we feel for our kids can drive a wedge between us and them. To be able to say “I’m scared right now,” takes us away from the ways we might be pressuring our kids and offers us a moment of reflection. “Can I let myself feel scared right now, and can I let them feel what they’re feeling right now?” If so, you’re one step closer to bridging the gap between you and your child.

This is a big topic! Today’s post is to bring up the “what and why” of the pause, and next week I’ll talk about the “how and when.” It can be challenging to build the muscles for pausing, and trust me, it doesn’t happen automatically! Support makes a tremendous difference in this work, not to mention a healthy dose of kindness toward ourselves. If you’d like to read more about other aspects of mindfulness right now, please feel free to check out another blog posting I wrote on nurturelifecoaching.com. 

And, of course, if you’d like to do one-on-one work around building “the pause” into your life, please set up a complimentary coaching consultation with me to see if you’d like to work together on this or any other topic. Empathetic support is a real game changer in this work. I’m here to help!

In the meantime, there will be more soon on the simple ways you can incorporate the pause into your life and experience some relief in finding yourself there. Be well!


By Published On: April 16, 2024Categories: Staying Mindful, Up-Leveling Life

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