Practicing the Pause
For the first time I’ve actually found a yoga teacher that keeps me coming back for more. Yoga is a huge part of my life and something I like to practice regularly for my flexibility, fitness and mindset. I view it as both a spiritual and fitness activity for myself. I’ve gone to Yoga by Degrees on and off for years because they embrace not only the fitness side of yoga, but the spiritual side as well. However, I had never found one particular teacher that I enjoyed…until now.
I love how each class feels like a therapy session that stretches my mind and body. Last week she mentioned “practicing the pause” and while going through the movements I got to thinking how practicing the pause is so necessary for everyone. My mind is always in the most lovely of states when I’m doing yoga. My thoughts just kind of drift in and out. I can have bad thoughts or good thoughts and I just acknowledge them and let them pass. This is very different from my normal state because I tend to be a very emotional person who reacts to whatever thought flits through my mind. I’m working on trying to bring my yoga mind to my daily life because I get some of my best blog ideas when in yoga not to mention being that emotional reactive to every thought is pretty darn exhausting! Anyways, back to my point!
To me practicing the pause means learning to pause before you react to something. It’s taking the time to take a deep, calming breath and THINK before you say something.
Not everything that pops into our heads needs to be said and sometimes not saying something is the better decision, especially if you’re angry and it’s just going to hurt someone else’s feelings. Practicing the pause has made a huge difference in my relationship with my significant other, friends, family and coworkers. It’s made a difference with pretty much anyone I encounter! Take the time you need when a thought pops into your head to think. Even if what you’re thinking isn’t negative! Sometimes simply talking too much can dilute a point you’re trying to make and confuse the person you’re trying to explain it to. I’ve made a real effort the last few weeks to try and explain my feelings in two sentences and confirm that the other person has understood what I was trying to convey before continuing on with the discussion. Two sentences is not a lot so it means I really have to ponder what I want to say and what point I’m trying to make.
Just like meditating, practicing the pause does not come naturally to me, especially when I’m anxious. My job is the number one thing that makes me anxious. It can take me from monk levels of calm to feeling so anxious my skin is crawling with just one email. A huge part of my chronic illness and pain is calming my central nervous system so learning how to not allow work to skyrocket my anxiety has been a very difficult, but much needed process for me. Practicing the pause has been a huge part of that. Instead of reacting immediately to a nasty email by firing back a snarky email in return I take a deep breath and if it’s not time sensitive I’ll sit on it for an hour before I reply. If I still am upset about it I’ll write a shitty email in return, but I won’t send it. Don’t actually write this in your work email, just do it in Word Processor or somewhere else that there’s no chance of accidentally sending it off. No need to cause yourself MORE anxiety.
If a bad situation has happened at work I take a moment to myself and remind myself that no matter what the situation isn’t life and death. Usually my body will calm down and I can think a bit more clearly since it isn’t stuck in the fight or flight response that screwing up at work or bad news sends me into. Then I’m free to deal with the situation with at least a slightly more level head and can make a list of what I need to do in order to fix the situation.
This can also be used on the negative thoughts you have about yourself. Negative self-talk usually goes hand-in-hand with low self-esteem and no one wants that! For example, if you find yourself thinking, “man, I’m really getting chunky” or “She is so much prettier than me” you can practice the pause and ask yourself if thinking like that is helpful. Often it’s not and that’s coming from the queen of negative self-talk. I could be offered a trophy for being the world’s best singer and I would find some way to bring myself down.
Practicing the pause also isn’t just for calming yourself down. It’s super important to enjoy the good times and that can be hard when we keep cycling through our to-do list in our heads. It took me almost 3 days just to relax on my vacation to Myrtle Beach because I had been so stressed out! When you’re feeling happy or doing something you really enjoy make sure to just take a pause and enjoy it. Capture this image in your head and live in the moment.
Take a deep breath now, wherever you are, and just let your mind go blank for a minute. Concentrate on your chest and stomach as you breathe in and out. Now open your eyes and go about your day remembering to just practice the pause once in awhile whether you’re feeling anxious, happy, sad or glad.
Did you like this post on practicing the pause? Please share! Do you have any ways to calm yourself down when you’re feeling anxious or to increase your mindfulness? I’d love to hear from you below!
Have a great day, everyone!