Almost every spiritual tradition has some form of pause built into its spiritual practice. Whether it’s meditation, or some kind of preparation ritual, or just a moment of stillness, spirituality teaches us to pause regularly and intentionally throughout our lives in order to live more fully, mindfully, authentically, and vibrantly. And there is tremendous power in this pause when it becomes an integral part of our lives.
This week, in the EvoFaith Podcast, we explore the power of the pause and why it’s such an important part of any healthy and authentic spiritual practice.
I have been a musician in one way or another almost my whole life. I sang in choirs from when I was very little, beginning as a boy soprano, and started trying to learn guitar not long after that (although I only finally managed to learn when I was sixteen). In the years since, I have sung in churches, for recordings I’ve done in my studio, and more recently, in my rock band.
In all these years of singing, I have learned the importance of warming up my voice. If I’m going to give my best vocally, then I need to prepare my breathing and my body and not just dive in cold. I have to withdraw, pause, and take time to get myself ready for the task ahead. And then when I am properly prepared—vocally, mentally, emotionally, and physically—I can take on the music and bring my best.
Most of us go through life just waking up each day and diving in—at least some of the time. We dive into relationships, jobs, arguments, purchases, and life-changing decisions without pause and without preparation. And then we wonder why we feel rushed, stressed, and anxious. I’m not saying we bring stress on ourselves. Definitely not. Stress comes with being human. It’s just part of the package of being alive. But we are less able to navigate our stress in positive and healthy ways when we dive in without pausing first. And sometimes, we add a little to our stress by ‘going off half-cocked,’ to use the old idiom.
PRACTICING THE PAUSE
This is why almost every spiritual tradition has some form of pause built into its spiritual practice. Whether it’s meditation, or some kind of preparation ritual, or just a moment of stillness, spirituality teaches us to pause regularly and intentionally throughout our lives in order to live more fully, mindfully, authentically, and vibrantly. And there is tremendous power in this pause when it becomes an integral part of our lives.
So, here are two quick ideas for how the pause can enrich our lives and relationships.
The Pause is Proactive, not Reactive
It is so easy to fall into the habit of living from a reactive stance. Whatever comes our way dictates what takes priority in our lives and we react automatically from instinct or emotion. But we end up feeling out of control, unable to choose what is most important for us. And how we will respond to what comes our way.
But the pause is a way of being that is proactive, not reactive. It is mindful, not mindless. It is on purpose not purposeless. It is deliberate, not accidental. It is about choosing our words, thoughts, actions, emotions, and intentions carefully and meaningfully and in alignment with our carefully chosen values.
The Pause is a Choice
It is common for us, in our pressured and too-busy lives to say that we have no choice about most of the things that fill our lives. And while there are many realities over which we have no choice, we have more choice over our own lives than we may acknowledge. Part of the challenge with choosing is that we then have to take responsibility for much of our lives and well-being. And we don’t always want to do that. But until we do, we will never master our world. And the pause is deeply empowering because it gives us the power to choose.
What I mean, is that practising the pause is a habit of making time to choose our responses to the constant data, experiences, and circumstances that come our way. The pause frees us to make intentional and well-chosen responses a habitual and second-nature way of being. It is to resist living at the mercy of whatever demands our time and attention and to protect our power to choose what we will prioritise and give our energy to.
THE SIMPLE POWER OF THE PAUSE
There is lots more that I can say about the pause and there are other suggestions I can offer for how the pause can benefit your life. But hopefully, this is a good introduction for you. If you want to go deeper, then why not join the EvoFaith email list where you get expanded versions of my posts and discounts on all premium EvoFaith resources?
Now let me end with a quick story. A few days ago, I was in a meeting that had to consider some challenging projects and decisions ahead. When we were done, a colleague needed to head straight into another meeting. But instead of just inviting the next group into his office, he asked them to wait, closed the door, and took a few moments to himself. He explained that he just needed time to rest his mind and prepare before addressing the next thing that demanded his focus. I was so grateful that I was there to witness this. It reminded me that I need to be more intentional about using the simple power of the pause in my own life.
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