We live in a time where we are constantly moving at a pace that we aren’t actually able to sustain. We’ve traded the long exhales and stargazing for to-do lists and overbooked schedules. Then, when we attempt a pause, we aren’t even able to truly sit and be with ourselves. Oftentimes we wait until we get sick, or simply burnt out, before realizing that we have been sacrificing our well being. And for what? - an endless striving towards an ideal we can’t even define for ourselves.
The sad part of all of this is most of us are moving so quickly that we don’t remember why we’re doing it in the first place. Personally, I will say all the doing is “for the future” when really all I’m doing is cultivating a habit of never actually being here. I don’t believe that it is necessary to completely retreat from the world and sit in a hammock all day; I’m simply suggesting that we start to value the sacred moments of pause as the precious moments of incubation that they are. The slowing down is what gives birth to the why behind it all. Usually we are in favor of the do-er, the labor-er, the get more and more done-er, but we don’t need to work harder… we need to work more intelligently.
Where do we go from here? Start with the small moments. A pause before rushing out of bed in the morning; relishing in a beautiful sunset. Whether it's 30 seconds or 5 minutes - commit to sweet moments of pause throughout your day. Sometimes the gentleness of a full exhale is really all we need to come back to ourselves. Movement based practices (yoga, tai chi, hiking, etc.) - help to distribute the excess mental energy throughout your physical form, leaving you feeling more embodied. It is important to cut back on stimulation from technology throughout the day and, specifically, in the evening as you try to unwind into your evening. Small things done with consistency always have long term effects. These little things are big moves if done over days, weeks and years. They affect our ability to actually be present for the life we are living - which we all might agree is the most important thing.
Find the pause between breaths
Inhale 5 - hold 5 - exhale 5 - hold 5
Take a long slow deep breath in
Find pause at the top and try to hold without anticipation or resistance
Slowly exhale without rushing
Find the soft pause at the bottom of the exhale
Let the inhale energize you
Let the pause show you what it’s life to be really full
Let the exhale soften you
Let the pause at the bottom teach you patience
Breathe 3-5 minutes, longer if time allows
Sit up with a long spine
Listen for sound without attaching to it
The sound of a car, helicopter, squirrel, phone ringing, anything
Try picking one sound and listen for the sound until you can hear it no longer
Listen patiently for the end of the sound
Any sound will do
Deepening your listening in this way not only drops you into the present but it also deepens your tenacity and willingness to be with yourself.
Over time, this will help you cultivate the attentiveness necessary to listen to and understand yourself
Make a list of the following:
- How you spend your time currently; and be honest (down to the minutes)
- What your top priorities are in your life (ex: family, health, passion for writing)
- Write down the unnecessary time you spend on things not on the priority list (ex: scrolling on instagram for 20 minutes, to do list making) and use that time as you now “sacred pause” moments of your day - the time for you to slow down, connect deeply to yourself, and to not have any responsibility for the moment