‘The Pause’: How To Ground When Your World Is Spinning
Most of us – no matter how much we promise ourselves that we won’t – tend to get swallowed up in our daily hustles: work, family, to-do lists, repeat. Then weekends arrive, and we try to squeeze in all that we didn’t get to over the week in a day or two while also carving a few hours for downtime and fun, too. Then it’s Monday again, and we are back at it, hopeful that this is the week we won’t be victims of our grinds. So how do we break out of it? How do we learn to live more despite our daily hustles?
I have always been a fan of the pause, defined as a temporary stop in action or speech. Skilled public speakers know to employ pauses, which enable audience members to digest the speaker’s words and ideas and engage in the discussion. In long distance running races, I have come to revere pauses and have had some of the most amazing moments of self-reflection when I stop and take in the scenery; it is typically during those pauses, when I admire the world around me in my deteriorated physical state, that shifts occur within me. I realize that there is so much more to the world – to myself – than the daily checklists of my life.
In the arts, pauses abound. In writing, there’s the comma, colon, semicolon, parenthesis, em dashes, all of which enable readers to interact with words, absorb them. There are also the scene changes within stories or chapters, often designated by extra lines between paragraphs; this is the author’s way of reminding the reader not to rush on to the next paragraph, but to digest what one just read before moving on. In music, there are pauses, called “rest,” which are intervals of silence, marked by symbols indicating the length of each pause. In movies, we experience pauses, too. David Lynch, known for his surrealist films, often inserts pauses amidst the action. Pauses are moments – sometimes uncomfortable for us – in which while nothing seemingly happens, we are given space to process and reflect before we are immersed in the next segment.
Finding Ourselves in the Pause
Then there are red lights and stop signs which require us to physically halt and look both ways before we keep going. So why is it that in our always charging-forward lives, so few of us incorporate pauses?
To me, the pauses are often where we find ourselves. They are the moments in which we stop doing and begin to be; the moments during which we trust in ourselves and the universe and choose not to fill up space rather than experience it. Pauses lead to self-reflection, creativity, and perhaps, empathy. They remind us of what matters versus what we must accomplish. Pauses may be moments, hours, or weeks in which we stop, think, and listen to ourselves and the world around us. They come in various outlets and flavors: some like to fish, while others choose to walk around the mall, or read articles online. The key is to schedule pauses into your calendar the way you do everything else. Give your pauses the time, space, and importance that they deserve.
Finding Your Pause
How to find the pauses in our lives? Consider incorporating the following into your daily routine:
- Walk whenever you can – up the stairs, a few blocks to the store, schedule walking work meetings outdoors so that you can get some fresh air.
- Read – audiobooks are a great option if you opt to read during your walk! Reading allows us to go inward, to be with ourselves, and reflect and learn.
- Wake up before everyone else so that you have time some time for you to use as you please.
- Take the long road home – let your commute serve as a transition from your work world to your homeworld.
- Play with your pet and if you don’t have one, stop at a shelter or visit with a friend’s pet. Animals are incredibly soothing and witnessing them is often a great reminder to slow down.
- Leave earlier for appointments and meetings so that you have more time to look around versus rushing to arrive at your destination on time.
- Put your phone down. Creating time-out moments from technology creates opportunities to tune in to yourself and those around you.
- Book short blocks (15 or 30 minutes works) in your calendar during which you make time each day for you.
- Take vacations! There’s nothing better than a change of scenery to stop your spinning world.
Most importantly, recognize when reaching your limit and the daily hustle is just not working. Learn how you best recharge: it may be a yoga class, a massage, or a walk or a run. It takes time to figure what helps you to check out of the daily tedium and check in to yourself. Learn to employ pauses in your daily life. Trust that what can wait, will wait. Make time to take in the world, reflect on where you have been and where you wish to go, and most importantly, learn to savor the timeouts or pauses in your daily life as opportunities to cultivate inner harmony.
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