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The Art of the Pause


Everything around us functions in a cycle of activity and rest. In Spring, flowers bloom and put their beauty and fragrance into the world, enticing bees and pollinating and sometimes fruiting. In Winter they are dormant, quietly gathering and saving energy to use next Spring. Many animals follow a similar cycle; in Spring and Summer they are busy procreating and foraging and hunting, and in the cooler months they settle down to rest. Without these periods of rest, the world of nature would not be able to function; it couldn't maintain its level of activity constantly. It has to pause, to gather it's resources, and emerge into activity again when the time is right.


This cycle of activity and rest repeats itself everywhere, at every level: day follows night follows day, societies rise and fall,  my dogs race through the yard and then flop down in the cool grass to relax. We humans also live in cycles. We tend to spend the warmer months being more active, and during the cold months we generally stay indoors more, conserving energy. We have active hours at work, school, or play and then take a period of rest and sleep. We eat and then we digest. We inhale and exhale and in between there are slight pauses. We read a lesson and then we take time to reflect on it. If we didn't take these times to pause, we would not be able to meaningfully maintain our activity for long.


Our society tends to place the most value on the busy-looking part of our lives. We are pushed to produce more, to do more, to be more outwardly active. We are losing the vital art of the pause, but without it our cycles of life aren't complete. The next time you have a delicious meal, take a quiet moment afterward to simply savor the experience. The next time you hear a beautiful piece of music, hit the pause button and let the last note linger in your mind for a moment. Let your gaze gently linger on a lovely flower or a happy face. Practice the art of the pause, the sacred time when our experiences and ideas have a chance to be integrated into our beings and processed fully so that we can make the most of them.  Without the pause, we cannot function to our full, whole potential.