One of the most productive things that we can do, is to do nothing. ‘The pause’ is sometimes the best option amid the many response choices we need to make in our busy lives.
The pause refers to a moment of mindfulness, which if used wisely and regularly, can be key to becoming happier, more content, and ultimately more productive.
Few people like to admit this, and it is something of an elephant in the room, but it can be reasonably assumed that our lives can all be a little too busy and stressful at times. Even if fear of being labeled prevents us from attributing such things to stress or anxiety, we can all identify with worrying about money, job security, health, our children’s welfare, relationships, family affairs etc. Regardless of what it is that gets us flustered, the pause can help.
Of all the things that we spend time stressing about, very few of them are actually happening right at this very moment. Right at this very moment, we are immune from the past and safe from the future. The present moment could be thought of as the eye of the storm. In the eye of the storm, conditions can be completely calm, despite all of the craziness going on all around it.
The pause is literally a moment where we stop, and enjoy what is going on at that very moment, regardless of what that may be. It is a moment of clarity, and generally where there is clarity there is greatly reduced stress and anxiety. The pause may be accompanied by a few deliberate and mindful breaths which can further calm our thoughts.
On a recent road trip to New England, in the north east of the United States, I practiced the pause many times throughout the three day vacation. The feeling of ease which the pause brings is a thing of real beauty. There were many times while journeying through Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York, that the pause allowed me to fully appreciate the beauty all around me, while I may have otherwise been fussing about the GPS, phone battery level, the next gas station or diner.
Sometimes on the trip, the pause allowed me to fully appreciate the fall foliage in the trees, the cool calm waters of the lakes, the beauty of the silence, and it added an overall level of enjoyment to the entire experience. How many times on what is meant to be a relaxing trip, do we end up feeling stressed by the journey? The pause can fix that, and keep you focused on enjoying every moment of a much needed break.
Meditation to those who do not meditate, can seem complicated or out of reach. The difficulty with learning to meditate can seem counter intuitive. But anyone can pause. Anyone.
The pause can range from a few seconds to around a minute, and has an instant affect. Try it! Just stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and feel the weight lifting from your shoulders. If you are able to do that, you are able to meditate, and meditation can bring so much contentment that it will make you wonder why you didn’t try it long before now.
The most profound pause came at Lake George, New York. We are just about to leave to drive back to New York City, where the sirens, airplanes, traffic, subway crowds and busy streets would be waiting. I took a last look across the lake and just paused. I paused all movement and thoughts, and focused on the beauty of the view. It was a final last look at the beauty of nature before going back to the city. These are the moments we so often miss. The pause allows us to capture that moment.