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The Power of the Pause

In a world that feels driven by urgency, it can be a truly revolutionary act to lean into stillness. I have been exploring this phenomenon more deeply after reading “Rest is Resistance” last year. The shifts in my experience have been palpable--resulting in greater ease and more presence. 

While the concept of taking time for stillness sounds lovely to most of us, what might it actually look like to do this in practice? Let’s explore…

First, it’s helpful to begin by reflecting on the difference between the “Action Journey” aspect of our lives (the doing, producing, achieving, accomplishing side of things) versus the “Inner Journey” experience (where we pause, savor, connect with something bigger than ourselves, and experience stillness and presence). Our modern Western culture places a tremendous emphasis on Action Journey work--so much so that (for most of us) it occupies the vast majority of our time, energy and attention.

When we begin to explore The Power of the Pause, we become open and curious about inviting in more of the Inner Journey into our experience. Below I share a series of tools and tips to facilitate you in making this shift:

  1. Observe: 

  • Notice the tendency to get pulled toward urgency, movement, or “filling up the spaces” in your day.

  • Have a sense of curiosity and compassion toward whatever you are noticing.

  1. Choose

  • If it feels right, make a deliberate choice not to follow the urge toward movement/action.

  • You might picture yourself in a hallway with two doors in front of you: “The Door of Urgency” and “The Door of Stillness”.

  • As you open the second door, silently affirm to yourself, “I savor the stillness” or “I lean into the Pause.”

  1. Savor

  • Take a moment to enjoy the stillness. This could simply be a few mindful breaths, the peaceful feeling of ‘thoughtless awareness’, or sensing-in to your feet connecting with the Earth beneath you.

  • Cocoon of Light: you might imagine yourself floating in a soft, white cocoon of light while you bask in this stillness. I like to picture that I am suspended in the sky amongst the stars in an inky black sky. 

  1. Inquire:

  • Ask yourself, “Where do I rush in to fill the natural spaces?” These could be the spaces between words, between activities, or something else. 

  • Again, simply notice--with a gentle attitude of curiosity and compassion.

  1. Be Deliberate

  • Begin to consider where  you can “harvest” (and savor!) the natural pauses that occur throughout your day. So if you find yourself having a lull between work activities (or stuck in a long line of traffic), see this as a gift that provides you with space and a chance to pause and go within.

  • You can also create deliberate pauses by choosing to do more of the things that help you connect to stillness--whether that’s meditation, time in nature, an afternoon siesta, or something else.

  1. Trusting in the Void

  • Begin to notice, appreciate, and trust the natural cycles between rest and activity. 

  • Allow yourself to welcome, and perhaps even choose to create spaces, pauses, and ‘voids’ in your life. Be excited about their potential to connect you with power and light.

I will leave you with two of my favorite quotes that remind us of the potent power of rest: “Take rest. A field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.” (Ovid) and “The pause is as important as the note” (Truman Fisher).

May we all learn to lean into the gifts of stillness that life affords us. Wishing you well,

~Dr. Abby Ampuja

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