The sacred pause

Within minutes of posting my morning message from Holloway Memorial Chapel (“Important work like sittin’ around fishin’), an article from Tara Brach came along to serve as a timely complement, “The Sacred Art of Pausing.”

“We fill our days,” she observes, “with continual movement: mental planning and worrying, habitual talking, fixing, scratching, adjusting, phoning, snacking, discarding, buying, looking in the mirror. What would it be like if, right in the midst of this busyness, we were to consciously take our hands off the controls? What if we were to intentionally stop our mental computations and our rushing around and, for a minute or two, simply pause and notice our inner experience?”

There’s an ancient spiritual discipline called statio. It’s an intentional, conscious pause as we finish one thing and prepare to begin the next. Instead of rushing headlong from one thing into another, we come to a full stop, if only for a moment (several seconds is better). But that momentary pause can make a huge difference in our experience. As a result, “We begin to trust in our natural intelligence,” Brach writes, “in our naturally wise heart, in our capacity to open to whatever arises. Like awakening from a dream, in the moment of pausing our trance recedes and Radical Acceptance becomes possible.”

Forget multitasking, statio says to me. Slow the frenetic pace and do one thing at a time, giving your full attention to the one thing that lies before you. The benefits are almost immediate. Like a little, momentary sabbath, that intentional pause can bless with holiness everything that borders it.

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