No time to pause? That’s exactly when you should

One of the better known phrases connected with Mindfulness instructs us to ‘Pause and take a Breath‘.

As mindfulness continues to weave its way through mainstream culture, we  are encouraged to Breathe, Pause, and Be in the Moment. It can be a bit comical, right?

So, what’s up with this Pause idea?

1. Coming up with Answer.  The workplace honours speed and efficiency.  Inserting a moment – or longer – to just be with what is can feel like a radical act. When confronted with a difficult event or exchange, we feel it resonate in our bodies.  Pausing creates space to acknowledge our body’s reaction. When we check in with how we are feeling physically (tightening in the shoulders, butterflies in the stomach, racing heart), we lessen the negative affect this reaction is having on our bodies. Science tells us that noticing how we are reacting may in fact lessen the eroding effect of stress on our bodies. Pausing is good for our health.

2. Assumptions and judgements – we all do it!  A stressful situation arises at work, and often in our haste to be speedy and efficient, we may fail to really Observe what’s happening – with the situation, with others, and with ourself. Inserting a Pause allows us to Observe. And by really checking in with what assumptions we may be making, we may lower our reactivity, and ultimately avoid a poor choice or decision. Pausing may help inform better decision making.

3.  Another way forward. When we head off a problem  with a speedy reaction, we may be short circuiting a more fruitful next step or outcome. How many times do we respond with an autopilot ‘fix’?  Pausing may help us tap into a more creative way forward. 

Resist the urge to fill the gap – and see what unfolds!