Pauses. Pauses are very important. They allow us to assess what is going on in our lives and how our lives are currently evolving. Pauses provide reflective moments that help us to see inside to who we are as human beings. A pause is a lot like deciding to sit down in a chair and just ponder about the happenings of life. In other words, an individual sitting down in a chair and putting one finger to their chin and saying “Hmmmm….I wonder what would happen if I did this or I wonder what would happen if I did that”. As the individual scratches their chin repeatedly they simultaneously arrive at decisions and conclusions even realizations.
Very often, when sitting down in a chair and scratching one’s chin, we have earth-shattering realizations that propel us forward in our lives. Some people will say “I didn’t realize that just until now in this very moment”. These are called ‘a-ha’ moments because we grab a hold of a new piece of information and make a step forward. We grow as individuals and see a new reality in front of us – a reality that is blessed with sacred and newfound knowledge.
But why do we have pauses? Are they natural occurrences? Or do we do them purposefully and with intention like it’s an in-born trait that periodically comes to the surface? Why are pauses so important? How do pauses serve us and in what capacity?
To think about it more clearly let’s compile a numbered list for assessment:
1. Pause because of over-exertion: this pause tends to happen because we have simply done too much. We have over-committed ourselves to either too many projects or too many people. We have to stop, think and recalibrate ourselves for restorative purposes. If this is not done, the obvious risk is burnout and complete depletion of self.
2. Planned Pause: this pause happens because we planned in that way. It’s not necessarily introspection but it’s a conscious effort to stop and take a break to plan for what is ahead in the future. This can be as simple as sitting down before the start of the New Year to make resolutions that are going to help us have a better life. The important part to realize is that pauses imply stopping. When we stop we relax and take a deep breath fully breathing in and soaking up the pause. It doesn’t have to be an introspective moment, but it likely is and it will help you feel better.
3. Pause because I feel like it: this is a spur of the moment type of pause. It is done on a whim and completely natural – like taking a 5 minute break from your day job and focusing on a completely different activity such as taking a sip of coffee or talking with a fellow colleague about the weather or one of the latest sporting events.
4. Forced Pause: these types of pauses will often be issued by professionals, particularly medical professionals that are looking out for your health concerns. If a medical doctor is telling you to stop because of a medical reason it’s probably best to follow orders and do what the doctor says. Medical doctors have extremely esoteric knowledge and are looking out for your best interests. That being said, doctors aren’t Gods and they don’t know everything. Sometimes it is suitable to get a 2nd or 3rd opinion if you believe the medical advice being given to you is faulty or untrue. After all, we only have one life to live and we don’t want to be unnecessarily hindered or limited if we don’t have to be. Trust your feelings and intuition to possibly avoid a ‘forced pause’.
5. Spiritual Pause: these pauses are often the best type of pauses because it allows you to recharge your battery and really take a look inside to who you are as a human being and who you are becoming. You don’t have to have the input of other human beings to know who you are as a human being. Perhaps all you need is a pen and paper to jot down your thoughts and make thoughtful lists such as lists related to strengths and weaknesses; areas that need improvement and areas that are already solid. The point is that you need the extra down time to figure out who you are becoming and how you will become your very best self in the future. This type of pause may well be equated to an introspective pause.
6. Pause because of confusion: a complete lack of direction and uncertainty about what to do next is a good reason to have a pause. Think about it, if you were feeling confused while driving on the highway or freeway wouldn’t you want to pull over and stop to take a moment to think about what is going on? You would likely do this to avoid getting into a collision. Better to take a moment and wait for your head to clear and for the confusion to lift than to keep on driving and increase the chance of getting into an accident. All of us become bewildered for various number of reasons. As such, it is not uncommon for all of us to take pauses to wait out the confusion and for clarity to return to our heads.
These are just a few numbered points related to different types of pauses. I’m sure there are many more types of pauses. Perhaps you can think of new ones and add them to the already existing list and enhance the value of the list.
Pauses come in many shapes and forms. All different types of pauses are very important for a various number of reasons. Pauses can serve as warnings to avoid and overcome burnout. Pauses can be spontaneous because we need a brief break and want to take them. Some pauses, however, can be prescriptive and indicate that we need to take time to heal, receive treatment and get better. Better still, other pauses can be very spiritual and introspective as we try and begin to identify who we are, what we are doing and who we are becoming as human beings. Sometimes, however, we become completely confused and lose our way. In these instances, it is imperatively important to once again take a pause and reposition ourselves for what lies ahead.
When we pause it allows for an opportunity to take a breath and think about who we are. Although pauses are invaluable for fanning the flames of the soul, it is important to not stagnate for too long otherwise we might fall prey to the problem of being or becoming stuck. We all need downtime. Pauses allow for this.
It’d be great to hear from you,
Matthew R. Polkinghorne