The Art of Pausing...

Finding ourselves in situations we can't control often makes us feel helpless and distraught. As we desperately attempt to manage the situation, we can become emotionally embroiled into a downward spiral of fear, anger and resentment. This can lead to emotionally charged confrontations with others or with ourselves.

Or we fill our time with constant movement or distraction to resist stillness. Mental planning, worrying, eating, buying, consuming, watching, scrolling, readjusting, fixing; can all help to distract us away from facing the intensity of our emotions.

But what if we made the conscious choice to just stop for a minute or two? A pause when we begin to feel the rising heat of anger or resentment. A pause when we feel the crushing weight of guilt, or the tightening grip of anxiety and fear.

The art of pausing offers the opportunity to intentionally stop, sit and surrender to what is happening within to help process, accept and move through our emotions. A few moments where we are not moving towards any goal, where we let go of the impulse to control, where nothing outside distracts us, where we are simply noticing our inner experience.

I have learnt the art of pausing has been the pivotal step to surrendering, accepting and healing painful emotions. Some ways I practice pausing are by:

  • Putting down my phone to bring awareness to the sensation of being at home in my body.

  • Focusing on the sounds and stillness in nature.

  • Pausing what I am about to say in order to truly listen and hold space for a friend.

  • Sitting for a moment to identify my anxiety and the story it is telling me before I get out of my car.

  • Letting go of thoughts to bring my attention back to my breath during meditation.

  • Pausing when I feel suddenly angry or sad to allow the feelings to be present, to acknowledge where they come from and then allowing them to move through my heart space with compassion.

  • Stopping on my daily walk to experience the spaciousness of the sky or the magic of the sunset.

I find that by pausing this way, I can then resume my activity with increased presence and the ability to make more conscious decisions. It allows me to see more clearly the fears that drive my emotions, attend to the parts of me that want my attention to heal and reconnect with the present moment.

At first pausing feels unnatural. We are conditioned to keep moving, to keep busy, to keep moving towards the next thing. But the more you practice, the more natural it feels. Try taking a moment in the shower to stop moving and pay attention to the sensations of the water running down your back. Or sit, close your eyes and really listen to the intricate individual sounds playing in your favourite song. In these moments there is no grasping for or resisting anything, you are simply paying attention to the experience of the here and now.