Silence, Stillness, Solitude

Take a Pause

This year, both by force and by choice, I have been led to take a pause, to seek out silence, stillness, and solitude. In our frenetic day-to-day it seems you need to be mighty intentional about creating that space or something huge has to happen to knock you sideways and re-evaluate your life and priorities.

What if we didn’t only allow ourselves and others this space to reflect on who we are and how we live in response to dramatic events, but sought to make them part of our daily rhythm?

What if you lived in a way that leaves some space for silence and listening in the midst of all your to-do’s and to-don’ts? A way to stay in touch and live from your centre.

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There are no ‘shoulds’ here. Much has been written and said about ways of pausing and noticing through meditation, mindfulness, yoga, walking, prayer, and beyond. There is no one right magical way. The main thing is that you do something. It’s about finding ways that work and are a fit for you in your context.

If you like an hour of sunrise meditation in the early morning, do that. If five minutes sitting on a park bench quietly watching the ducks works, great. It could be lingering over your morning cup of tea, sneaking a few more minutes in the bathroom, or going for a daily walk at lunch.

Most important is that you find a way to stop and pay attention to your life: notice and listen to what is going on in your mind, heart, body, and soul.

Here are some steps to get you started:

1: Reflect on what works for you.

What helps you be still and turn down the outside noise? What would the ideal setting be? Research, ask, look around: What are others doing that you like or don’t like the idea of? What have you tried in the past that helped you hit the pause button? What would you like to experiment with and how could you get started?

2. Reflect on what works in your current context.

What environment are you in? Are there little people running around? Are you in the middle of a busy city or small country village? Do you work fulltime at an office? What are ways in these spaces for you to incorporate a pause into your daily rhythm? What is the best moment in your day/week for this? Things that used to work may need to be adapted to your new reality.

3. do it and do it regularly!

Make the space, put it in your schedule, tell others who depend on you that you are unavailable, and take that pause. Repeat. Notice what comes up when you do. Create prompts that help you check in and pay attention. If you want to go nuts on self-awareness get a journal and note down your thoughts, feelings, and insights afterwards (but first be still, be still).

 

Solitude & Connection

Paradoxically this moment of silence, stillness, and solitude is a conduit to closer connection with others. We are able to express ourselves, ask for what we need, and give what we desire to give from the centre of our being.

We sometimes cross the threshold into quiet spaces with trepidation, either for the unknown or for knowing deep down what we will find there, the questions and requests that await. But when we do, we make the way to get in touch with what is really going on, what we feel, what we want, what we fear, what we hope for. And it is then that we can act effectively in line with who we are and what we are about.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments on what works for you and how you (are going to) practice pausing in your context.

Sometimes

"Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest,

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories,

who could cross
a shimmering
bed of leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests,

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop
what you are doing
right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away."

~ by David Whyte
From ‘Everything Is Waiting for You’