What is pausing?
Pausing is taking time to reflect, noticing what we are doing and/or feeling and allowing ourselves to be fully present.
How can we pause?
A month ago, in June along with my sister, and brother-in law we ran our first Mindfulness and Pilates holiday in Andalucía. Ten participants joined us for a week away from our daily working lives. It was a great success.
For a week, our participants were able to immerse themselves fully in strengthening their bodies, calming the mind and relaxing. They were undisturbed and taken care of.
The challenge however, comes when we return home from holidays like this. How do we stop ourselves getting caught up in the hurly burly of the everyday?
It is POSSIBLE to find peace and quiet in the small moments in our busy lives.
But….…. How can we pause when we have so much to do?
Many people assume that to meditate or practise mindfulness we have to be physically still. This is not true. Even the simple act of washing our hands, making a cup of tea can be meditative and mindful. What we are ‘pausing’ is the chattering mind.
Consider that we humans have around fifty thousand separate thoughts each day, many of these thoughts are concerned with the fears and pressures of everyday life.
- What will happen if I lose my job?
- Who will look after my children when they are poorly?
- What if I never find a partner?
Pausing is an opportunity to quiet the chattering mind.
For example, if you are sitting in a chair while reading this, do the following:
- Feel your feet resting on the ground
- Feel the chair supporting you
- Relax your jaw
- Now take a deep breath and exhale slowly.
That probably took 15 seconds – but during that time your attention was on your body not on your thoughts.
Two more simple methods for calming the busy mind:
- Make a cup of tea with the 5 senses
We are unconsciously expert at many every day activities. For example, we do not stand before the mirror, toothbrush in hand, saying ‘I wonder where the instructions are for this?’ Nor if we are physically well, do we scratch our heads when we wake up and wonder how to get out of bed.
Because we can do these things with ease, they make good activities for calming the mind, especially when using the FIVE senses.
So next time you make a cup of tea try the following:
- Feel the weight of the kettle in your hand when you lift it
- Walk to the tap, conscious of the soles of your feet
- Turn the tap, listen to the water filling the kettle
- Fetch a cup, notice the colour of the cup, the design
- While the kettle boils, stand quietly, listen to the kettle boiling
- After you have made your cup of tea, smell it, does it have a smell?
- Taste the first few sips
Be aware of the desire to DO something while the kettle is boiling – whether it be to pop to the toilet, wash up some cups, check your phone. Do these things either before or after – but while the kettle boils, stand, quietly – take this minute or two to pause.
Notice also the JUDGEMENTAL mind. Instead of taking in the colour, shape, and texture of the cup, you may be thinking, “this cup has a stain on it, I wish people washed the cups up properly here”. Now you are no longer noting colour, you are judging it.
- Start counting
Next time you have a break from your desk count how many steps you take to and from your destination. Counting will encourage you to focus on your feet and also allows us a rest from the work back at the desk.
The danger of not pausing
The danger of not pausing or reflecting is all too evident. How many times have you found yourself saying what happened to that year?! Where has the time gone!?
We are all mortals and our lives are precious. Therefore, if we don’t give ourselves time to slow down, and reflect then we are in danger of never fully living our lives.
If you’d like to learn and practise more techniques like these, then there are 3 things you can do: