I’ve been reading the book Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha
by Tara Brach, Ph. D., and deeply enjoying it. The last section dealt with the concept of the sacred pause. This is a practice I try to work into my life, and it was great to get a reminder.
The idea is to take a moment to stop striving, or goal-seeking, or activity to try and get somewhere, something or someone and just be with what is real for you in the present moment. It’s a sort of energetic reset. Just taking a moment to see what is so, without judgment or plan. It is a state of welcoming whatever is present, just as it is, and checking in with the core of ourselves.
Tara suggests the idea of picking a specific activity for practicing the pause. Something you do on a regular daily basis. This could be before you brush your teeth, before you leave the car, as you finish ting your shoes, as you sit down for lunch, or any activity that you do regularly where you can take a moment for yourself to pause.
I find a pause in my day to take a moment, or three, to just experience what I am experiencing consciously is incredibly invigorating and greatly sharpens mental focus.
You could try one right now before you read the rest of this post. Take a few moments to close your eyes, relax your body and breathe easily. Let your awareness scan through your current experience. How does your chest feel? Your jaw? Is there any tightness there or elsewhere? Are there a stream of thoughts going through your mind? How does gravity feel on your flesh? After a few breaths slowly open your eyes and go back to reading. See how that feels.
In OA (and other 12-Step Programs) they have a version of this sacred stop that you can reach for (as a tool) when you are in the grip of negative emotions or energy. It comes with the handy acronym – H.A.L.T. That stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. When you catch yourself lashing out in anger, fuming, stomping off, or telling take a moment and do an honest assessment. Are you acting out for any of those reasons, and if so what can you do to actually address the issue? It’s a wonderful way to get real with why you are acting the way you are. You can then make an informed decision as to whether your current course of action will deal with the issue, or if a different course is called for. Often in life we get driven to unskilled actions by misunderstood or unexamined feelings when we could actually address them and move on.
If the idea of the sacred pause appeals to you I highly recommend you carry it around in your back pocket for a few days, get some use out of it and see if it works for you. Let me know how it goes!