05 Apr The Power of the Pause
“The power is in the pause” -Melanie Salvatore-August
A bright shining light of a human being, noted author, yoga instructor, Melanie Salvatore-August (@melsalaugust), would often say during my 200 hr yoga teacher -training, “THE POWER IS IN THE PAUSE.” She used this phrase to describe the many ways that pausing is good for the mind/body connection: a pause at the bottom of the breath (with empty lungs) as the transition between Downward Facing Dog to Warrior 1, a pause at the top and bottom of the breath (called Kumbhaka) during a pranayama practice (breath control), a pause to set an intention before practicing, and a pause after a full practice to reflect on the shift and peace which yoga creates.
Yet, there are many ways to pause BEYOND the perimeters of your yoga mat, as Melanie describes in her book, “Fierce Kindness.” The following types of pauses are outlined in Melanie’s book, but I’ve added my own take on them. That is, I want to share how I personally use the techniques described in the book to facilitate a deeper mind/body connection, peace, and gratitude – all of which contribute to optimal health and wellness.
1. Beginning & Ending Pause: Begin each day with a pause to reset your intention and create a positive vision. Every morning upon waking, I pause and set my intention for the day. For the past few months, my morning mantra has been, “Something wonderful is going to happen today!” Additionally, before I turn on a podcast (which, if it hits the right balance of interesting/boring, puts me to sleep at night) I pause again, ending each day with a reflective pause of gratitude.
2. Transition Pause: This pause helps you regroup and redirect your intentions before arriving at a new place or a new task. I use this pause when moving from what seems to be never-ending work to cooking dinner for my family. My pause goes something like this: I stop. I breathe. I regroup. I say to myself, “My work is not nearly as important as our family dinners, and it is from a place of love and gratitude that I begin the task of preparing a meal for the people I love the most. Breathe and take it in. You are blessed.”
3. Repetitive Pause: This pause helps you to pull back down to earth to refocus, reground, and breathe during times when you might otherwise lose yourself down a rabbit hole. I find myself in this position often. (Ugh.) When I’m doing a deep-dive into a project, I will often set a timer on my phone or use a timing cube to remind me to take breaks, to re-ground, to stretch, drink water, and be present.
4. Emotion Pause: This is a big one, folks! We often mistake emotional needs for other needs. The most common of these substitutes are food (and not the healthy kind) and alcohol. Before I reach for that bite of a cookie (or that glass of wine), I pause and ask myself, “Am I REALLY hungry, or am I needing something else?” We often eat (or drink) because we are bored or grumpy or stressed or _______ . (Fill in the blank.) Pausing to check your emotions before opening that bag of Lays Potato Chips cultivates mindful eating and is a powerful tool to help you gain control of your eating habits.
5. Cued Pause: There are words and phrases (said aloud or internally) we all use that can become a cue to when we need to take a pause. These usually begin with “You never,” “Everything is,” “It’s always like this,” and “But I…” When I find myself complaining, comparing myself to others, or blaming others for my current situation, I pause. I reflect. I own my role. I attempt to learn something new about myself, and I move toward love and empathy. Pause when you find yourself coming from any place other than love, empathy, and compassion – both for others as well as for yourself.
6. Savoring Pause: Melanie instructs her readers to add a 5-second pause onto every important moment – a hug, eye-contact, or a hand-hold with a loved one. It’s amazing what these little savory pauses do to deepen your relationships and nurture gratitude. I pause every evening at dinnertime, after the food is on the table and my husband and our kids are seated, to deliberately take it all in. I also use this Savoring Pause before I send an important response to an email or text (we all know what happens when we press “SEND” without thinking) and especially in difficult conversations. Use these pauses to ground and establish a mindset coming from a place of love and compassion.
Practicing these little pauses fosters mindfulness, which helps you to reset and take charge of your life. There really is SO much power in the simple act of taking pause!
So close your eye. Take a breath. And Pause.