The Power of The Pause

A mindfulness technique for self-improvement

I am a hot-blooded Hawaiian, a Jersey girl with a lot of edge, and to top it all off, a firey Scorpio. Everything about my wiring is an angry knee-jerk reaction waiting to happen. I can go from zero to 100 in a matter of seconds, and it’s one of those things I decided to work on years ago.

I decided to work on it because it was something I didn’t really like about myself as I was cultivating my sense of self-love. I didn’t like being reactive. I didn’t like being in a perfectly fine mood, only for something to happen that would make me sad or mad for the whole day. I wanted to be able to stop, recognize what actually matters, and then respond appropriately.

Maybe you can relate?

When a friend or partner is upset, they try to explain what made them upset, but instead of hearing them out, we jump right in to defend ourselves…starting an argument rather than coming to a resolution.

When we get an email that makes our blood boil, we want to start furiously typing a passive aggressive response…creating hostility rather than being able to hear another’s opinion or critique.

We see a news headline that upsets us or goes against what our beliefs are, we IMMEDIATELY criticize him/her/it or try to argue the point… fueling the Facebook fights & feeding the trolls, rather than hearing all sides of the story, and choosing not to form a judgment on it.

What if we were to pause in these moments? What if we took a step back and asked ourselves if this actually matters in the grand scheme of things? Or asking ourselves how WE would want to be heard, listened to, or spoken to? What if we weren’t so quick to judge?

Technology makes this a challenge. We’re almost EXPECTED to respond right away. Next time you come across one of these situations, I challenge you to PAUSE. Stop for a minute, or maybe an hour. Think about how your next action or reaction will serve you, will it create peace? Will it create hostility? What ever you are trying to cultivate in your life, that is the response your reaction should warrant.

A few months ago, while in Hawaii, my dear friend and soul sister came over to lead some morning yoga. In our practice, she spoke about the concept of equanimity. Equanimity is defined as ‘mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.’ I finally had a word for something that I craved. I was searching for this state since I was 22, and no longer wanted to be an asshole. Little did I know I would find one of the most challenging states to create and maintain.

The problem with equanimity is that we aren’t hardwired for it. We’re biologically hard-wired to fight or flee. It’s not always a literal response, sometimes the ‘fight’ shows itself as a passive aggressive response under your breath. Sometimes the ‘flight’ show itself as an internal dialogue of withdrawal, self-criticism, and self-doubt.

Newton’s third law concludes that every action as an equal reaction. If we bring this from the physical to the metaphysical, it rings true as well. Every action we take, will illicit a reaction. Every reaction is an action in and of itself. Being mindful in these moments, and taking the time to pause gives us an opportunity to play out these situations, and remember what kind of state we are trying to cultivate in our own lives.

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