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Power of Pause

by Stephanie Kato

I’ve noticed many meditation businesses and events have popped up all over LA. Could this trend signal a need for us to slow down and pause? Most definitely! Many of us understand the need to relax, unplug and unwind–to calm the mind and the senses. We rush to get out the door in the morning for school and work. We rush out of work to pick up the kids and hurry to get food on the table amidst homework and extra-curricular activities. With all this rushing around, it’s no wonder we gravitate toward mind-body balance.

Pausing as a mindfulness practice

The intention for this article reveals how pausing in other areas of our lives creates a powerful change in our psyches, feelings and bodies. I created a mindfulness practice detailed in my upcoming book, encouraging us to stop and listen to what our minds believe as truth. When we notice discomfort, pain or contraction in our bodies, we need to pause, take a breath and ask, “What was I just thinking about?” Once we understand this, we connect our thoughts with the physical discomfort often resulting from fear induced feelings. Pausing the thought process allows us to choose a different mindset leading to a new outcome physically and emotionally.

Ending an external conflict by pausing

We’ve all engaged in arguments leading to heated exchanges. It seems as hard to stop mid-argument as it is to stop a speeding train. Think about what happens during a fight. Both parties want to be heard and understood. If that is the goal, how can we accomplish anything when we speak angry and hurtful words? Pausing creates the power of communication. Either party has the option to take a breath and pause. From there, one person can diffuse the situation by admitting fault and taking responsibility for their part. Practicing pause this way encourages our partner to take stock and claim what is theirs. Recognizing the destructive nature of relational combat prevents further hurt and emotional damage to the person we love. Pausing also helps us see if we are projecting unresolved triggers that have nothing to do with our partner.

Ending an internal conflict by pausing

How often have you noticed unkind thoughts directed at yourself? Have you paused long enough to re-direct or transmute such thinking? Beating yourself up only creates guilt and shame. Without present mindfulness, it becomes easy to allow self-harming thoughts leading to feelings of worthlessness. Pausing while noticing inaccurate beliefs provides an opportunity to self-correct and choose self-loving thoughts instead. You have value and worth because you exist. Denying this sacred truth because of low self-esteem doesn’t alter this; it only serves to delay healthy self-talk promoting optimum physical health and well-being.

Pause to feel

Too often we stifle uncomfortable feelings and push them down into our bodies, often to our gut. Over time, this has the potential to create physical illness and dysfunction. What is a healthier option? Pause to feel our feelings. The ironic thing about stuffing our emotions is this: we prolong the inevitable. Logically we conclude that if we bury our feelings, we avoid the emotional pain begging to surface and threaten our idyllic lives. This works (for a while) until the suppressed feelings manifest into physical issues impossible to ignore. At this point we then have to deal with the original painful feelings and the secondary physical issues.

Vulnerability is one reason we avoid our feelings. It seems the weaker position when, ironically; it is the stronger and more powerful one. Strength originates from vulnerable feelings because of the courage it takes to feel. It’s better to pause and feel when the feelings first come up than create additional issues that disrupt our peace and joy. E-motions (or energy in motion) do just that: move. The first and best course of action is to pause.

Pausing the (fear-based) mind

Many of us live in our heads, constantly trying to figure things out. This also distracts us from our feelings. We rationalize if we stay in our heads we avoid feeling emotional pain, however when something or someone triggers us our carefully suppressed feelings release inappropriately or with surprising force. Pausing the mind is tricky because a fear-based mind will try to convince you nothing is wrong. It wants to stay in control and in charge. The power of freedom exists in pausing and letting go of what we cannot control or change.

How do you pause your mind? By recognizing when your thoughts loop or become obsessive. Take a deep breath and pause your mind by stopping your thoughts. Notice if doing so creates discomfort in your body. Breathe oxygen to these parts and reassure yourself that you are ok; you are changing a habit or pattern, and it might take some time.

Present mindfulness is vital to notice when you need to pause. Vulnerability is necessary to take responsibility for your part. To take action, we need a willingness to change. Pause has the power to change your life.