I often say to clients – ‘let’s just pause on that’. It is so easy to get caught up in the story of our lives that we miss the experience of it. We love to tell stories and to explain the what, and the why of it. Through our stories, we can be heard and understood. On one level. However, it can provide a way to keep us out of our bodies, our emotions and, of course, our pain.
When we pause …
We have the opportunity to reflect, to notice and to feel.
We are in a transitional space between thought and feeling.
We come into the present moment.
There is space for something to emerge, for our unconscious to speak to us.
We can open to the subtle messages of our body. We might become curious about the slight flutter in our stomach or that we suddenly notice our heart beating faster.
As we stay with our attention and awareness we have the space to release and let go.
As we pause we become alive to ourselves and present to those around us.
Pausing and slowing down is how we can become more grounded in who we are and what is important to us.
The pause is where the work happens to move into a fuller knowing of ourselves.
It brings to mind the phrase ‘pregnant pause’. Therapy is full of pregnant pauses where something can be birthed. Spaces where we can create, explore and play together.
Slowing down and pausing can be hard – why is that?
When we are used to going fast we have often developed habits to avoid being in our experience. Using our intellect to analyze, explain, and interpret can give us a sense of control especially over vulnerable experiences. In addition, we may have developed tendencies to minimize our experience or distract. In long standing experiences of trauma and abuse, we may have developed the ability to dissociate from our bodies.
So when we slow down it can feel very uncomfortable to notice what we are experiencing. Returning to the distractions and intellect feels safer.
We have to consciously slow down and go against these habits.
In some ways, we need to go slow with slowing down. To practice a moment or two so we can build tolerance for what we are experiencing. To begin we are often learning to regulate the discomfort that arises as we bring this kind of attention to ourselves. Finding the place within us that we can tolerate awareness of our experience is what regulation is all about.
For some, the pause confronts the lifeless numbing and frozen tension which is a discomfort of another kind.
It takes practice and support to notice and move carefully, to tolerate what comes and learn new skills to be comfortable with ourselves. We need help to find the moments of joy and excitement amidst the tension and pain. To reacquaint ourselves with the bodies vibrant well-being and relaxation. To be at peace with the world and feel the safety and love of those around us.
It is in the pause that we can take it all in.