Practicing the Pause

Have you ever considered that what you do when you’re under stress actually reveals a lot about what’s going on under the surface?

I just spent the last five days with my dear friends who were visiting from out of town, which is the best and I loved having them here, but whenever you host people it becomes a whirlwind of activity. Then this morning I woke up early and ready to take on my busy work day to discover a deer tick on me, which is scary enough but since I had lymes disease as a child it stirs up instant panic and fear. 

The cherry on top was driving to run an errand two hours later and a large insect flew in my window and down my shirt.

In the large scheme of things these are not life-altering, but when we run and run and the daily stressors of life begin to compound, if we’re not careful, we can start to act out of a place of panic and stress.

We are always seeking safety and security and when either of those things are threatened we act instinctively to return our minds, hearts, and bodies to a place of “homeostasis”. In the middle of the tumult this morning, a friend texted me and said, “I’m praying that this is a small gift from God to let you “pause”, and has nothing to do with lymes disease!”

At first I thought, hmm… I feel like this type of situation would cause (and was causing ) the exact opposite of pausing but then I thought again and remembered another friend’s words who would always encourage me to “practice the pause”.

Stressful moments can be opportunities to react or respond. When we practice pausing in moments of stress we gain access to the option of responding thoughtfully rather than reacting mindlessly. When we pause we can tune into what’s happening inside our hearts and minds, we can be aware of where we are tending to go in stress, and what it is we actually need in order to return to a state of peace and rest.

You know how they say “the devil is in the details?” Well, usually the big life lessons are hidden in the simple moments of life. The chaos of this morning reminded me of these three things:

  1. Surround yourself with high quality people who cut through the chaos of the circumstance to speak a word that’s meaningful and prompts you to pause.

  2. Circumstances can either create a reaction or a response depending on whether we pause long enough to realize we have that option.

  3. When we pause we can become aware of what’s happening internally, where we’re going in stress, and what we actually need to find solid ground again.

So, what’s happening in your world today that can be an opportunity to practice the pause?