Practice the Pause
Practising the pause can make a world of a difference in our lives. It allows us to take the time and the space to breathe, observe rather than react automatically, reflect, stay in our calm, relax the building tensions, unclench our tight muscles, allow our body’s metabolic response to relax, including allowing the blood to flow freely without excessive clotting agents. It is essential to our well-being and in understanding what is happening around us before we start taking any rash decisions or acting upon them.
“Practice the pause. Pause before judging. Pause before assuming. Pause before accusing. Pause whenever you’re about to react harshly, and you’ll avoid doing and saying things you’ll later regret.”
Lori Deschene, the author of the quote above and the founder of Tiny Buddha also provides a list of when it is vital to pause.
Pause before sending emotionally charged emails.
Pause before posting heated comments on social media.
Pause to examine our own biases.
Pause to listen more before being too quick to speak.
Pause before talking badly or gossiping about someone.
Pause when feeling impatient.
Pause when feeling stressed or exhausted.
Pause before becoming overwhelmed.
Pause before being so quick to defend yourself.
The list is a good start and can help us think of some other additions which are more relevant to us and the way we tend to act out of an automatic habitual response.
Even if there is no immediate trigger, learning to pause when we are tired, before our irritability and stress levels get too high, is essential for our physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational wellness.
Knowing when to pause and rest when we are emotionally overwhelmed is just as crucial as pausing when we are physically tired. Our bodies and minds work at optimal levels when fresh, not when stressed. Time is important to allow our overworked systems to cool down.
Another version of the quote goes like this:
“When in doubt, pause. When angry, pause. When tired, pause. When stressed, pause. And when you pause, pray.”
Practicing the pause makes a world of a difference. It allows us to take the time to stay calm, relax, and talk to God or our inner being. When we do this, we understand Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God.”
How do we do a Mindful Pause?
Breathing can be very very effective in Practicing the Pause.
Pause and feel your in-breath and out-breath for 10–15 seconds. Then increase the time. Simply observe the breath flowing through your body.
Allow yourself to ask:
Who am I being right now?
What kind of a person am I showing up as right now?
Who do I wish to show up as?
Another great method is to Practice the Pause using the STOP:
S — Stop. Pause.
T — Take a few breaths. This gives us time to notice the stimulus or trigger better.
O — Observe your present state without judging it. What are you feeling or thinking about in the moment?
P — Proceed with awareness.
In what ways do you deal with your triggers and states of overwhelm?