So many different feelings, huh? 

Worry. Coziness. Heartache. Warmth. Frustration. Love. Solidarity. Curiosity. Disorientation. Reorientation. Fear. Anger. Gratitude. 

I know that I, for one, have experienced each of these and more in response to this pandemic. Heartache as I watch the virus travel to Gaza, to the ICE detention centers, across the African continent. Gratitude for trusting that, no matter what happens, I will be okay. Frustration knowing that the most useful thing I can do is staying home right now yet wanting to contribute more. 

Writing a newsletter now feels harder than it’s ever felt. This event is far too vast for me to wrap my little mind around, and to put words to it risks minimizing or discounting the experiences that so many different people— yourself included— are having. And, yet, not naming this experience doesn’t work either.

So, here we are. In the midst of a gargantuan, global pause, in which most of us are forced to take a break from business as usual. 

When I sat down to write to you today, I had to laugh because I realized that, weeks ago— long before schools got canceled and businesses closed down, I was already planning to write to you about “the power of the pause.” Still seems relevant, right?

So…

For parents at home with your kiddos who’ve gotten triggered by the umpteenth interruption while you try to get some work done, this is for you. 

For everyone working from home, trying not to go down the Corona-Posts-on-Facebook-Rabbit-Hole, this is for you. 

For anyone who can’t help getting worried when you hear the news even though you’re trying to stay grateful, this is for you:

The Power of Thirty Seconds 

I invite you to think back on a moment when you said something you later regretted, or you clicked “send” on an email that you later wished you could take back. 

Or, perhaps there was a time where a loved one or colleague told you about a problem they were experiencing, and you felt an urge to jump in and fix things even though they just needed you to listen and be present.  

Or maybe one day you planned to focus on a big project, but you got a phone call, jumped up to answer it, got distracted, and headed off in a completely different direction than the one you had planned. 

What do all these moments have in common?

  1. You heard something. 
  2. You felt an urge to react.
  3. You reacted. 

Like all of us fumbling human beings on this planet earth (at least, most of us!), you have the best intentions to be kind and supportive and focused. But when you get triggered, your heart beats faster, your body goes on high alert, and you’re bound to feel an urge to react in less than helpful ways. 

We are all bound to get triggered— to hear or see things that elicit an urge to react. What matters is how we respond when we’re triggered.

The Pause is the Moment of Choice.

Viktor Frankl wrote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

It’s a powerful quote. I invite you to read it a second time slowly.

Most of the time, when we humans are triggered, we move immediately from the stimulus to the response. We shoot right past the space between the urge and the reaction. And that’s when we end up doing things we later regret. But if we take a moment to pause in the space between the stimulus and the response, we can consciously choose a response we feel better about. 

One brief pause can make a world of difference. 

In the pause of one breath, you can notice your impulse, the pull to react, like an itch that wants to be scratched, and you can choose which direction will serve you.

In a bullfight, a bull seeks a space in the arena called a querencia, a place of safety, refuge, and renewal. If the bull remains reactive, enraged, and afraid, the matador has control. But when the bull finds his querencia, he has the chance to pause and reclaim his strength, and he becomes almost impossible to kill. Think of yourself as the bull in the arena. When you pause, it gives you the opportunity to find your own personal querencia, to quiet the mental and emotional noise within, to create the space to hear your inner guidance, and to access your inner strength.

Instead of automatically reacting in a way that disconnects you from others, you can choose to respond in a more caring way. Instead of jumping to fix things, you can slow down and genuinely hear the person who needs your attention. Instead of getting distracted, you can consciously choose to focus. 

You do not need to meditate for an hour or even fifteen minutes to get the benefit of a pause. Thirty seconds of warm breathing sprinkled throughout your day a couple of times is far more doable than an hour of meditation a week and often way more helpful.

A Few Deep Breaths

I invite you to practice now. Set a timer for just one minute. During this time, take deep, nourishing breaths. 

Notice your body. Slowing down, paying attention to what’s going on within you. Notice physical sensations, emotions, and thoughts.

By bringing your attention back to your body, you can also calm and support yourself in choosing a more skillful response. 

When the time is up, notice how you feel. You may find that thirty seconds can have a pretty miraculous effect. Or you may need a bit more time. If that’s the case, set your timer for three minutes, and take that time to follow your breath. You might be surprised at how long three minutes can be when you’re simply pausing!

From now on, I invite you to set an intention to integrate micropauses into your days. Take a deep breath during transition moments or before you respond to another person. And pay attention to what shifts: With practice, you’re bound to notice yourself paying better attention and responding in far more skillful ways.

And maybe a longer pause.

If you’re a frontline worker, working to keep our bellies fed, our streets clean, and our people healthy, thank you. I know that for many of you, this moment may feel like the opposite of a pause. You are in my heart.

And, for the rest of us, as our cities and states shut down in an effort to keep each other safe, we have an opportunity to pause. May we honor the parts of us who resist the pause, and may we also take it in.

Wishing you and your loved ones health, happiness, and safety.

Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Much love,

X

Forgot Password?

Join Us