Mindful living. Slowing down. Power of the Pause.
What ever you call it, the idea of taking a pause – a break or time off – to renew oneself is not new. However, interest in the topic saw a boom in the last decade with the publishing of the book, The Power of the Pause: Becoming More by Doing Less, in 2011. It is so popular that you will find resources on it everywhere. You can find Harvard Business Review articles to TEDx videos that explain how it can help you in various aspects of your life, from career change to connecting with your inner self. This is not surprising given how we all need to take time to pause, whether it be for a few seconds of deep breathing or a two-year sabbatical.
Meditation and the power of the pause
Mindful living encompasses all aspects of our lives. It is a way of being.
The power of the pause, on the other hand, is a tool that can help us live in a more mindful manner. It is central to the practice of mindfulness, because it is the first thing we need to do each time we meditate – stop.
In practicing mindfulness through meditation, we try to focus our attention or awareness to the present moment. However, to be able to be fully present on the now requires that we stop and let go of everything. This means letting go of the past, even that past that was just five minutes ago; the future, from our to-do-list to aspirations; and anything else that ties us beyond what we are experiencing at that very moment. It is the ultimate pause.
Of course, anyone who has ever meditated knows that thoughts and feelings that do not belong in the present invariably creep in. They distract us from focusing on our breath, the droning sound of the fan, and the feeling of peace that has just started to settle in our being. At that very moment though, mindfulness still prevails if we acknowledge those feelings and thoughts without judgement, learn to accept that they are a part of us, and let them go so that we can move on with our meditation practice. With every second that passes, we need to stop to be able to take stock of what is to truly be in a state of mindfulness.
Harnessing the power of the pause beyond meditation
The power of the pause, as in mindful living, goes beyond the practice of meditation. You need to take a pause regularly to avoid burn out, be more effective in the different roles you take on, and live in a manner that nurtures your whole wellbeing.
Taking a pause for self-care
In trying to live more mindfully, harnessing the power of the pause for self-care is essential. You can incorporate little breaks throughout your day, and in your weekly and monthly routine. Little breaks can mean getting up from your desk and stretching your back for a few counts, spending a minute for quick mindfulness exercises, or taking a power nap after lunch. It can mean having a cup of coffee while everyone is still in bed, putting on headphones to tune the world out while doing your bedtime routine, or going out for a walk with your dog.
Pauses can also come in the form of what others may see as self-indulgence. It is more than just taking a short break to keep your sanity. It is much needed self-care, and it does not matter what the activity is, as long as you get away from the hectic pace of daily life and spend some time with yourself enjoying something you love to do. Things you can do for your special alone time can be anything from scheduling a weekly massage and trip to the nail salon, a monthly museum or fishing trip, or even a dinner date with yourself.
Taking a pause for self-growth
Taking a pause does not always mean doing nothing. Instead, one way to harness the power of the pause though is by doing something else that will help you grow.
Take time off from what you do on a day-to-day basis and push yourself out of your comfort zone. As the saying goes…
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.“
Remember though that one of the key things in pursuing personal growth is that pushing yourself to do more and be more all the time is not the healthy way to go about it. No one can do everything all at once. You have to be mindful of what truly matters to you.
Take a pause from the things that drain you physically, mentally, and emotionally and then focus your time and energy on those that take you another step closer towards your personal goals. You need to stop doing things that do not add value to your life and invest your time in those that you will help you achieve your goals.
Take a pause from binge-watching and sign up for daily yoga/art/cooking/language classes – whether offline or online.
Take a pause from tumultuous relationships and go on a journey of self-discovery “Eat, Pray, Love” style.
Take a pause from excessive online shopping and start investing your money in something more meaningful.
Take a sabbatical and pick up where you left off on that passion project that you thought you have given up on.
Take a pause from social media and take time to nurture relationships face-to-face, one-on-one, in real time.
Remember, pauses may be quick or long, temporary or permanent, but in the end pause is a must if you want to get where you want to be.
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