Pause. I have started to use this word a lot lately. It floats like a little mantra through the back of my mind. I let it come up when I am emotionally triggered and believe it’s wise to take a moment. A moment to bring me back. Back to myself. To basically connect with the wisest part within me.
Pausing. A second, a minute, half an hour. Whatever is needed or whatever the moment or situation allows. Just the word itself can be enough to bring me back. And to handle whatever needs to be handled from a place of calmness, clearheadedness. And not from a place where emotions or thoughts are in control.
When we get irritated, angry, overwhelmed, annoyed, tempted, fearful, nervous, when we’re about to explode, are negative, when thoughts are taking a runner with us, and so on. And yup, that can be quite often haha.
And the thing is, the more I pause, the more I pause. I start to recognise more moments where a pause is required or useful. I’m actually starting to see them as opportunities; to see my material for growth and make the most of the moment.
By pausing I don’t mean ‘doing nothing’ or switching off, like pouring a wine or watching TV – that is distraction. It is exactly the opposite. It’s 100% switched ON. It is going within, and connecting with who we really are, the part where our deepest wisdom sits.
What could happen in a pause?
A range of things, depending on why the pause is needed and how long we’ve got! But its anything that brings presence, self awareness. Such as:
A breath (not optional). A breath can create so much space and bring awareness. A breath removes the intensity of the moment.
Feel and let it be (just feel the anger, frustration, desire, sadness, etc). Allow it in, without having to act on it or judge it as something you shouldn’t be feeling or thinking. (https://www.closethegap.nz/self-love/)
A question: what really needs attention right now? What we think this triggered moment is about often is about something else. Something a lot deeper.
Observe: taking ourselves out of the situation and observing ourselves. Watch what we are thinking or doing. What would our wisest part say about what it is seeing?
Connecting with our values and who we really want to be. If we want live by our values, what does that look like in this moment?
Its easier to not pause
When emotions get intense, bringing presence often goes out the window. It often is much easier to not pause and act on the trigger. To get angry, offload or explode; to say what we think; to ‘quickly’ get all our stuff done and push on; to give in on the cookie jar, checking our phones as a habit or any addictive-like behaviour; to talk to that person to get confirmation or look for an answer; to push on even although we’re not feeling okay; negative self talk; negative talk about others; judging; blaming; seeking attention. The list goes on…. anything of which we deeply know is not the ‘real-me’. Anytime we hear our inner soul whisper and say: “hello, you know better than that. Or maybe not yet, but I’m here to help you, if you could just pause and listen.”
When we can’t act from wisdom, let’s do it mindfully
None of the above is wrong. We can still go back to our usual behaviours. And I do. I am not always pausing. Or I do, but still act not accordingly with my deepest wisdom. But… at least I paused this time. I recognised it. And this can just be the invitation. To recognise when there is a need for a pause. To pause or not – and be aware of that. And when we still behave not in line with the inner wisdom, maybe we can try to do it mindfully and slowly – and watch ourselves, observe ourselves when we ‘give in’. That is bringing awareness to the present moment. And again part of being kind with ourselves. Every tiny bit we see, can no longer not be seen. It always is progress.
Freedom takes courage
In her book Radical Acceptance (which inspired me around this topic), Tara Brach quotes D.H. Lawrence:
“Men are not free when they are doing what they like. Men are only free when they do what the deepest self likes. And there is getting down to the deepest self! It takes some diving.”
Pausing is getting to know and listening to the deepest self. Not necessarily by dedicated meditation or to relax when it is easy to relax. It’s using real, daily life and all the human challenges that come with that. Pausing is actually really hard and a very courageous thing to do. But as the quote states… its about being free. And a pause can change and shift everything.