The art of pausing to integrate change.
Have your noticed yourself changing over the years? Or perhaps one day something huge happened and you just knew you’d be changed forever.
Cycles of birth, death, marriage, divorce and transcontinental relocation have that power. These BIG events, have a very clear threshold and as you pass through the phase between old self and new self/ old life and new life, it’s as if you can almost feel the shift happening, it’s tangible and you know you are about to be forever changed.
And yet, at other times, life altering progress takes place more subtly, as a slow burn over months or years and you don’t realize its happening until you look back and see how different you are now.
I’m writing this blog post on the brink of a BIG life change. I can feel it coming and I know it’s going to rock my world and open up new paths of my souls growth. At 36 weeks pregnant with my second baby, I am not about to cross over into motherhood, that happened back in 2012, BUT it would be unwise to underestimate the birth of my second child as a ‘been there done that’ kind of event. I have a very tangible connection with this little baby already and can feel my body getting ready to usher my spirit through this next porthole of motherhood.
As I linger here on the threshold of change, I’ve been reflecting on times of growth and transformation in my life and lives of my friends and family and I’ve concluded that these big moments of change usually happen under one of two conditions.
At the front lines of life. (ie Birth and Death) When strong emotion and possibly chaotic conditions take you through a once in a lifetime experience, forcing you move into parts of yourself you never knew existed. These moments on the front lines of life, are rich for growth, though the challenge is to be able to find moments of ease within them to pause, reflect and integrate the growth under intense and possibly overwhelming conditions.
On Retreat. Whether you do this formally or not, what I mean by ‘retreat’ is when you extract yourself from your regular work, life and routines for a bit of perspective, fresh air and ultimately… a chance to pause, reflect and integrate. Ideally you’d do this for at least a week, to give yourself time to unwind and let go of the buzz of daily life and settle into a space where the mind can begin to reflect and create unimpeded. This process is deeply nourishing for the human spirit, and paves the way for greater clarity, purpose and growth.
Both of these pathways to growth and change involve taking pause to support our capacity to reflect without the cloud of ego (our personal PR machine) the pause allows us to settle into seeing clearly what is happening, and then once we see clearly we can begin to integrate the learning’s and move forward.
Developing a daily practice of pausing, whether this involves simply stopping to mindfully take 3 deep breaths; journal writing at the end of the day to unwind; or perhaps setting aside 30minutes for meditation—the art of the pause trains us to slow down. This way we don’t miss anything.
Pause, reflect, integrate - This simple process is one, I’ve found enormously helpful as I work to integrate the teachings of big life changing experiences.
Even if you are not on the precipice of change, pausing and reflecting can actually help an ordinary ‘boring’ day, become extraordinary. On the surface your day might seem dull and same as any other day, but if we pause to reflect on moments such as… What did we do? How did we feel? What are we grateful for? And what might we do differently tomorrow? Perhaps we will notice things that otherwise went unnoticed because we were moving too fast to see or truly appreciate them.
Tonight before bed, try this simple practice to mark the end of the day and clear the slate for tomorrow.
1. Take 3 deep breaths to clear your mind and centre yourself.
2. Run your mind back over your day-- how was it, what did you do, how did you feel?
3. Anything that came up the made you feel unsettled—LET IT GO. Take 3 deep breaths
4. List the things you are grateful for (you can use a paper and pen if you like to write, or just do it in your mind).
5. Cast your mind to tomorrow. How do you want to feel? Set an intention for tomorrow or mindfully craft a TO DO list (if this resonates with you and how you want to feel).