I’ve been reading about mindfulness and stress reduction lately, trying to get my mind wrapped around how to bring this into everyday life without it feeling like another “rule” I needed to follow – it’s a delicate balance. It’s funny how life steps in sometimes to help you see something new; I was stopped at a light in downtown traffic, and normally when I would have very efficiently kept up with the flow of traffic as it began to move, for some reason I paused. I can’t say why, but I did, and it was gently enough to ensure no one behind me was impacted, but long enough to keep me from rolling into the car in front of me as it unexpectedly slammed on it’s breaks. That pause saved me time, money and the stress of having to file an insurance claim (and an accident report…and get my car fixed).
It made me wonder where else a gentle pause would be beneficial in my life. I decided to experiment. In a meeting my pause left room for someone else to take on work that was new for them (and freed up time for me to work on something else). At home, pausing meant that I didn’t jump down my son’s throat about an incident (for which I received a “Wow Mom, I was expecting you to be more upset about that…” in a very relieved voice). Pausing has very tangible benefits for everyone. And I can say it has reduced my stress.
But back to my original concern, how to incorporate more pauses in my day without it becoming “one more thing I forget to do”? Gentle reminders for gentle pauses seems to be the answer, especially since I already have many more rigid reminders telling me what to do; my life (like many people’s) is full of prompts and pings, so one more felt like the proverbial straw that would break the camel’s back (my calendar reminding me where I am supposed to be and how long it will take to get there, my watch telling me to stand, or to breath deeply, every hour). So instead, at the close of my workday I think back on one or two things I am grateful for in my working day, and when there has been a beneficial pause, that is usually top of the list. In honouring it in this way I find myself pausing more often, not because I have to, or because of reminders or notes telling me to do so, but because it has meaning for me; it just makes me feel better.
It’s a simple thing that is entirely in my control. One simple, discreet change that has rippled benefits out not just to me but all those around me too. What do you have to pause for? How would it benefit you? We are all worth it.
“It's not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.” ~ Kristin Armstrong