The Power of the Pause

The Power of the PauseIn our busy, reactionary lives, we sometimes to forget to intentionally rest, breathe deeply and pause. We take advantage of momentum and get lost in busyness. Our thoughts and worries and fears keep us on high alert and our to-do lists and inboxes run our days.

Some may say that we have too much to do to slow down, but I’d like to suggest that we are afraid to slow down.

We are afraid that …

  • we will become irrelevant
  • we won’t measure up
  • we won’t get enough done
  • people won’t respect or appreciate us for us
  • we are what we do
  • we will miss out

Instead of coming to a full stop, easy into a slow down by practicing the pause. Making time to pause gives you a chance to take in your surroundings, check in with you how you feel, quiet your mind and appreciate the present moment.

How to Practice the Pause

Take pictures. Beauty and awe is everywhere, but when we run through the day with tunnel vision, we miss it. I use my camera to capture beautiful ordinary moments everyday. My family teases me a bit about my obsession with the sky, but I can’t get over its magnificence. It’s so nice to pay tribute to something beautiful by taking the time to capture its image.

Drink Tea. Leo Babauta says, “I find that if I’m having trouble concentrating on one thing, pausing to brew some tea is a great way to regain that focus. I’ve gotten some of my best writing done with the aid of a cup or bowl of tea.” Use the ritual of drinking tea to practice the pause.

Stand up. If you sit at a desk, in your car or in front of a computer for most of the day. Stand up throughout the day. Give your eyes, back and brain a break. Take pause with a big stretch.

Respond thoughtfully. If you are used to multitasking and reacting to email, voicemail and other things all day, batch your decision-making. Spend an hour thoughtfully responding to email and then close your email and turn off your alerts. You don’t need to know when someone emails you or updates their Facebook page. Instead, check in when you are ready. Pause and respond a few times a day instead of reading and reacting all day long.

There are other ways to take pause. I’m about to board a plane and while internet may be available on the flight, I won’t take advantage of that. Four hours of being completely disconnected sounds like a great time to appreciate the power of the pause. (and to take in the beauty of the sky)

How will you practice the pause today?


  1. says

    I think that sometimes people see it as not being responsive when they don’t jump on every email, update, or phone call. By batching, we can be more effective and present to the task at hand. I have heard some people say, “Oh, I can’t stand routine. It would bore me to death.” I used to be one of those people who justified my busy-ness. I am always on the lookout for ways to improve and simplify. By placing exercise first thing in the morning (where I can see that beautiful sky to which you’re referring, Courtney!),I ensure I am taking care of myself every day. Only then can I be effective in my work and relationships!

  2. Tina B says

    I have a one-hour commute to and from work each day. There isn’t a lot of traffic, so I enjoy looking at the scenery. I love looking at the cows grazing in several fields. I watched the construction of a new hospital. The clouds are always beautiful and unique. Most of all I love watching the giant planes as they land at our large international airport. They look so graceful, slowly floating in. While I wish I didn’t have the length of the drive, I do enjoy the things I get to see along the way and I find it very relaxing.

  3. says

    I thought your original title was fine Courtney. You made your point clear. Some place more importance on the drama of politics and television news than every day life around them. It is easy to pretend you care by spouting off political rhetoric.

    My favorite way to pause is to hike and take photographs. I plan on taking a nice pause tomorrow.

    Dan @ ZenPresence

  4. Sharon Harding says

    I suspect that another reason people are afraid to take a pause is that we are not really comfortable in our own skin. A few years back I got very sick and had no choice but to take an enforced and lengthy pause. I discovered I was terrified of being still and quiet. I chose to stay busy and distracted so I wouldn’t have to face myself. Once I had no choice I found it really wasn’t that terrible. I discovered that I was enough, just as I was.

    • says

      Sharon, I am so glad you discovered that! Your comment really hit home because, in 2006, my health tanked. I am happy to report that, like you, I am enough! Thank you for sharing that. I still have to remind myself…

  5. says

    I take time out each day to walk the dog.
    This used to be a chore when my mind was filled with planning and busyness.
    Since practicing mindfulness my walk has become a pleasant timeout, I often stop to take a photo or two along the way.

  6. Candice says

    It’s such a shame that you had to alter the title to your recent post “Your Vote Doesn’t Count”. If people would have paused and taken the time to actually read and absorb the full post before responding, you probably would have received far less negative feedback. I “pause” in the mornings by using my Japanese Hario coffee pot to brew my coffee rather than hit a button on an electric drip maker (which I use to own). It takes some time and effort but it always calms me as I watch the water trickle through the coffee and fabric filter and smell the wonderful aroma of coffee filling the kitchen. I enjoy being active in that process.

  7. says

    So happy to have stumbled upon your site – I love it and everything you have to say.

    Your tip on taking pictures as a way to slow down is…genius. I’m going to share it with my clients for sure (and send them to you for a daily dose of feel good). Thank you! Francesca

  8. says

    I am so glad I came across this post and your website. I cannot agree more with what you wrote and I found the idea of taking pictures, to bring you back to the present moment is a great idea! I personally like to get on the mat or in the kitchen.

    I wrote recently about our need to slow down and take the time to do nothing. And I have to say that experiencing ‘Sandy’ last week reminded strongly about being in the now.


  9. Dawn says

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post and I’ve shared it with two of my friends as well as my husband. Thanks!!