Pause Refreshes All | Catherine Shainberg, Ph.D.

August is a month of suspended animation, a cauldron of highest heat, a tipping point toward shorter days and back to the demands of our busy lives. At the crest of the August wave – if we’re lucky – we can slip through the crack in the worlds to an idyllic Eden, near ocean or mountain, river or forest. We return to these oases to bathe, breathe,  hug, or in other ways embrace the natural pause we have before us. We can be at one,  with no time but the now.

How to give words to this hiatus where the tyranny of time gives way to timeless sunlight, where the busyness loses meaning, and our goals retreat to a vanishing point? We can enter into a state of euphoria: nothing matters but the next swim or nap, the next footstep, the next mouthful. This is the state of Adam.  Athletes call it “the Zone.”

Why is a pause so ecstatic? Think of music. Without the pause you won’t hear the notes.

Why is a pause so ecstatic? Think of music. Without the pause you won’t hear the notes. Without the pause between notes, the order of unfolding sounds would dissolve into cacophony. The music, its notes and rhythms, would blur into each other. Too much run-on sound would become noise, not music.  Too much chocolate and you’ll soon be sick of it. Too much togetherness and you’ll understand the meaning of “Absence makes the heart fonder.”

What is the secret of the pause?  The choice it gives you.

At a crossroads you have to stop to choose your direction. From breathing out to breathing in, this tiniest pause allows the switch to happen. Without the pause there would be no transformation. On the 7th day,  God blesses the pause  and declares it holy. And suddenly we’re seduced, led, and restored in a garden of delights God set aside for us. Jews call it Shabbat, the sacred time.

We can all return through the pause – short or lengthy – to timeless bliss, delight, song, dance.

How do we return to pause? By pausing before the beauty of nature, the birds, the bees, the frogs, the turtles, the trees, the mushrooms, the creepy crawlers, the sun and moon.  By experiencing them , dwelling in them even briefly,  our hearts expand at such varied magnificence. Our senses open. We breathe in. The switch has happened.

Exercise: Switch to Pause

Breathe out 3 times slowly counting from 3 to 1.

See yourself in the most idyllic landscape you can recall. Let your eyes wander to the many different plants and trees.

Now search for every animal that lives in your idyllic landscape.

How has time changed for you?

How has your body changed?

Breathe out. Open your eyes seeing your landscape with open eyes.