Pausing

We’re wired to think we’re always on our way somewhere–the next thing to ask, say, or do. We frequently worry about what will go wrong. We can break this process once we learn to pause and bring a gentle, mindful attention to what’s happening inside us.

We need to reconnect with the life of our bodies, to feel our hearts. That’s the sacred pause. At any time, we can take a few breaths, relax, pay attention.

Most of us keep speeding up to drown out our anxiety. We may stay lost in thought, dissociated from the body. Being brave enough to pause entails feeling that anxiety in our bodies. But we also find some space of presence and kindness underneath it.

Try it now, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths.  Then let the breath become natural and easy.  Notice your physical body, sensations in the body, where you feel them.  Notice where you feel your breath in your body.  Then inquire as to your feeling state, the emotions present.  Notice your mental state.  Rather than following emotions or thoughts along the story line path they present, stay focused rather on what you sense in your body, what emotions are present, what thoughts arise, and keep coming back to your breath.  Let the breath be an anchor to hold you tenderly in the present moment of your experience.

The psychologist Carl Rogers said, “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” Acceptance means we’re accepting the actuality of what’s happening inside us–hurt, anger, fear, shame. Such honest presence with our experience is a precondition for healing and change. After it come wisdom and compassion.