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The Sacred Pause

Updated: Mar 22, 2022

Pauses are built in to the natural order of things. The fullness of life in the spring and summer pauses in fall and winter. Even in the windiest places, the wind calms for a while. We even pause between breaths. There is a beautiful moment between the end of the out-breath and the beginning of the in-breath.

We would do well to heed these teachings of pause that are all around us and bring them to bear on our lives. It is oh so easy to become caught up in the doings of life and get swept downstream by the swift current. Deposited in the ocean of old age without knowing how we got there.

This is one of the reasons why stopping and meditating each day is so important. We need it to stay stable, sane and to regulate our nervous systems. Just like the body needs the pause of sleep at night, our heart and mind need the pause of meditation each day. Pulling out of the swift current of life and settling into an eddy of being with the body and breath is hugely nourishing. It's kindness towards ourselves and self-care.

It reminds us of our connection to a deeper meaning of life. A meaning that is not of the popular culture. But we have to be quiet to hear it. We have to pause and be still. In that space, that pause, the heart remembers and responds. This is why it's called a sacred pause. Because it helps us to remember what is deeply important to us.

I want to offer this piece of writing by Thomas Merton. Many of us are drawn to help others in various ways, through our professions or in other modalities. And yet, it can be that in the helping we can easily get swept away if we don't remember to pause.

“There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence to which the idealist most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence. The frenzy of our activism neutralizes our work for peace. It destroys our own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of our own work because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

Thomas Merton

The next time you go to do your meditation practice, see it as a sacred pause, and a gift to yourself, and in turn, to the world.

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