Wisdom in the pause

How standing still can actually help you progress.

Our human brain has a tendency to overestimate its power to ‘do it all’, doesn’t it? The last few weeks I found my mind being absorbed with 7 different yoga & writing projects. There was simply much to do in a short amount of time. My first reaction? Bring me my superwoman cape, and let’s rock this thing! Turns out: a pretty decent strategy for the first few days, but not so much of a sustainable and supportive one in the long haul. When I noticed myself prioritising ‘getting things done’ over my wellbeing in the moment, I knew it was time for a pause. A giant one. Cause – paradoxically – the moment our mind lets us believe that we simply don’t have time for a break – or a yoga session or another act of self-care – is the precise moment we need it most. Tricky little thing, our brain… 🙂 

Our society thrives on striving, doing, achieving and becoming. And that’s a good thing… Sometimes. Most of the time, however, it can actually get in the way of what we desire. We over-act, over-do, force and create tension and exhaustion in our body and mind. We mistakenly believe that by hitting the pause button – and thereby stop ‘doing’ for a while – we stand still.  And standing still is a sign of stagnation, right? Oh, so wrong! Here’s why.

When we allow ourselves to pause and rest – especially when we need it most – we allow our whole system to unwind and replenish. When we invite our attention back into the present moment, our mind naturally calms down and refreshes. Similar to opening the windows of a dusty attic, we allow the fresh breeze of the present moment to clear out the fogginess in our mind, so we can make room for new ideas, creativity and focus. Turns out we are much more productive and effective in reaching our goals after we had a break, than we would be by pushing through to the very end. And let’s not forget: it definitely is more joyful! 🙂

I would like to invite you to enter your new week – and this December month – with a little extra awareness:

How do you react in busy moments? Do you tend to push through or do you allow yourself to pause and rest?

How often can you check in with yourself throughout the week and grant yourself a (small or giant) break, when needed? 

Make sure you regularly reset your body and brain by pausing. After all: we are named human beings, not human doings. So wouldn’t it make sense to honour the name of our beautiful species and make sure that – in between all our doing – we don’t unlearn the precious art of simply being? 🙂 Not sure how? Here’s a short and gentle reset you can practice, at any given moment of the day – especially when you’re busy.

Daily practice – taking a pause

Take a moment in between your daily ‘doings’ to sit comfortably in stillness. Allow your eyes to close, melt your shoulders down, and take a gentle breath in through the nostrils. Open your mouth and exhale slowly. Allow your body to sink further into your seat, as your lungs become completely empty. Allow your breath to return to its natural rhythm and gently guide your attention towards your face. Your face is a home for hundreds of muscles. Good news: they allow you to express joy, show your worry and release your sadness. Not so great news: we all tend to tense up our facial muscles more often than necessary. You can train yourself to consciously soften facial muscles, thereby giving your brain and body the message: hey, in this very present moment, all is well. 

So explore right now: how soft does your face feel? Is your forehead relaxed? What about your eyebrows and the space in between? Is there any subtle – or not so subtle – frown going on? Let your eyes rest back into their sockets and allow your cheeks to soften. Finally, slide your attention towards your jaws: one of the creme-de-la-creme body parts that store tension. Let your lips part from one another and slowly start to wiggle your jaws around. This is your moment to get funky and make silly faces, if you feel like it 🙃. Come back to stillness and let your lower jaw drop down by the gentle pull of gravity. 

Expand your attention to your whole face again. Notice: How does it feel to let your face bathe in softness and ease? How does it influence your rhythm of breath? Or the pace of thoughts flying by in the mind? How does it affect your inner state? Is there an inner smile wanting to emerge?

Can you let the softness in your face be an inspiration and invitation to your entire body to release and sink a little further into the present moment, that place of deep rest? 

Here it is. A delicate mellow moment and a graceful reset for your body and soul 💛. Easy to be overlooked or forgotten, but oh so precious. Allow yourself to take it as often as you need.

I would be delighted to guide you through a relaxing reset during Monday’s online Yin yoga class. You are most welcome to join, by signing up here

Or go for a fundamental, extensive pause and let yourself be fully recharged after a warm, mellow and intimate (mini) retreat. Find out more about the workshops, special classes and retreats, and treat yourself to one of the most precious gifts for your health and wellbeing: deep rest.

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