A quiet morning surrounded by books, coffee, my journal and a podcast. I know it’s what I need, I know that after just a couple hours I feel more at ease, less restricted, more open. I can feel the stiffness slowly leaving my body.
And I have also had a very difficult time carving out this time. It’s not productive, I’m just sitting here listening to a podcast, I tell myself. I should be checking something off my to do list at the same time and making the most of my weekend time. I’ve wasted my morning doing nothing, my thoughts tell me. They, these thoughts, leave me feeling frustrated, torn and guilty and like I’m doing sometime wrong, something I shouldn’t be doing. That taking a moment to pause is not worthwhile. When in fact, pause is the complete opposite. Those thoughts may feel real (*thanks* ego), but they are not true.
It is okay to just be. To rest. To pause and be slow. To take a few moments or even hours to just be.
I have a list of activities and things I can do for self-care, and I find that sometimes they just feel like a chore. Just another thing I need to check off my to do list and schedule into my day (I’ve had ‘paint nails’ on my list for weeks now – they are still bare). I know (through many, many moments of practise) that when I feel like I don’t have time, when self care has become effort, it’s time for me to simply pause. Sometimes I’m successful at hitting pause, other times I’m not. And that is also okay. It is a practise after all.
Self-care is action. It is a tool. An act of kindness to towards yourself [Note: self care does not equal beautification. Self-care can mean taking time to focus on beauty rituals (a pedicure, hair cut, facial, personal grooming, etc) but it is not limited to beauty]. Self care is a way to create that soft space within you that allows self-love to grow. And sometimes I get into a headspace where self care feels difficult. This where I find pause can be helpful.
For me, pause doesn’t look like hitting the stop button on the world, simply pulling up the covers and hiding (and honestly some days you just need to add Netflix to the mix and call it a night). Instead, taking a moment to pause is more like a slo-mo button, where the world slows a little and I can tune into some smaller details. It’s about being present and aware of what’s around me. Pause is an interruption. It is a way to ground yourself. Every yoga class ends with savasana – corpse pose. You lie down on your back and take a few moments to allow all of the movement and poses settle to into your body. You rest, you relax, you feel. You are aware of your body; you are not asleep. You simply pause.
A ‘savasana pose’ for your day-to-day life could be taking a few deep breaths before getting out of bed, it could be watching the sunset, petting your dog, going for a walk around the office, making a cup of tea, sitting in a chair just looking out the window, or doing a short meditation. Or it could be taking a whole day off to do so called “nothing.” The key is the deliberate slowness and the awareness of your surroundings and/or your body (I say and/or because it can be difficult to do both). I can be petting my dog, but really I am planning what to eat for breakfast. Or I can be petting my dog, and noticing the way her fur feels between my fingers, how she smells, how I feel more calm, and that half of her whiskers are black, the other white.
I started to bring a deliberate pause into my daily life a few years ago by changing up my morning coffee routine. My budget had gotten pretty tight and I wasn’t able to grab coffee out anymore. But I couldn’t imagine giving up my daily coffee (let’s be real, coffees). Instead, I decided that I would buy the nicest bag of beans my budget would allow, prepare my coffee by the cup in a pour over (or my French press), sit at the kitchen table or in a comfy chair and slowly drink my one cup of coffee. I would savour it, like my lazy Sunday morning coffees I enjoy so much. Turns out my caffeine consumption dropped, my wallet thanked me and I now had this lovely morning ritual of preparing and enjoying my coffee. My slow coffee. My daily pause and morning rituals have certainly grown since then I think it started with my slow coffee.
The past few weeks I have been struggling with keeping up many of my practices, including self care and pause. Life caught me. And at the very moment my life requires pause, I seem to tell myself I don’t need it or it can be done later. Even though, I know that when I do slow down, when I take regular moments of pause and check in with myself, I am happier, more efficient and clear headed. The thought “I don’t have time” is becoming a warning flag to myself that I really do need to pause, even if its only for a moment. At first, pause feels counter intuitive; it may feel like giving up, it may even feel like wasted time. I promise it is not.
I find that after a pause it can be a little easier to be kind to myself and those around me. To be compassionate. I am not as reactive to the people around me (like the slow driver in front of me on the way to work doesn’t immediately make me angry). We live in a world where we are told to go faster, to be stronger, to collect more shiny pennies, to wear all the hats and get it all done. We are never told the missing puzzle piece – that rest and pause actually makes you stronger and more resilient. There is a reason the tortoise won the race after all.
As always, sending lots of love + light,