The Sacred Pause

It’s been a while since I last shared a post with you guys – I felt a deep sense of longing to release my habitual state of ‘doing’. I felt called to just be, rather than create, or be productive. As most of you know, I recently spent some time overseas, four weeks of which, was spent at my parents beautiful house in the country. After the intense energy from Sydney & New York the sense of stillness I found in Nova Scotia felt alien – weird, and a bit eery.

It’s so quiet I thought – no street lights, no traffic, and most of all, no sense of urgency. As time passed however, I started to settle in, and adjust to the pace of life – I had flash backs from my childhood – day dreaming and watching the leaves blow in the wind for hours. I began to feel nourished from deep down within. It had been so long since I last felt this sort of peace and stillness, that I was truly ‘coming home’ on many different levels.

One of my most cherished teachers, Tara Brach speaks often about what she calls a sacred pause….

“A pause is a suspension of activity, a time of temporary disengagement when we are no longer moving towards any goal…Taking our hands off the controls and pausing is an opportunity to clearly see the wants and fears that are driving us. During the moments of a pause, we become conscious of how the feeling that something is missing or wrong keeps us leaning into the future, on our way somewhere else.”

The clarity that often accompanies these moments of suspended activity, while illuminating, can also be quite sharp and penetrating. While in Nova Scotia I noticed, that even despite my best efforts, my life here in Sydney was bursting with a sense of striving, pushing and struggle. This realisation brought with it a bit of grief over the time I had lost trying to be better.

When we pause we notice that life is here – now, each sunset, each kiss, each moment in time, unique and very temporary. I began to question exactly what I was striving for…what I was pushing so hard to create. I noticed, that even in my yoga practice I was competing with myself – to be better than I was yesterday, to nail the pose, to do more.

I know I’m not alone in this. To some degree or another we all share this sense of push to move forward, and the pace and nature of our society promote it – after all striving gets shit done.

But what if we put an equal emphasis on the pause. What if we valued not doing – just as much as we value doing? What if – instead of wanting, needing, pushing to make things better – we just accepted what is.

For me, it wasn’t until I actually did pause, that I realised how much I needed it. Life began to come alive again. I even took a pause from my practice, and when I came back to it, it felt so much sweeter. All spiritual traditions have some variation on the sacred pause – and you don’t have to go on holiday to experience it ( although it’s pretty damn good ).

Here are some steps for practicing the sacred pause:

+ Before engaging in a new activity ( ie. making dinner, driving to work ) just stop, and take 5 slow breaths
+ Try incorporating 5 minutes of mediation, or mindfulness into your day
+ Before you react – just stop. Sense your breath, your posture, and what is asking for attention from within
+ Go on retreat – a spiritual retreat is a powerful opportunity to pause

A sacred pause can last a breath – weeks, months or even years. What matters most is that when you drop the constant business – your heart and soul have a chance to breath.

Have you found solace in taking a pause, or break from your daily activities – even if it’s just for a moment? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!



Sign up

Want to learn more about the slow yoga approach?
Some things are better said with video, sign up below and see for yourself!

1 comment


What a great reminder. Funnily enough lately I’ve been wondering why all the pushing, I’m a pusher from way back. I’m slowly starting to flow more and push less. This is a lovely post and reminds me to slow into the flow & trust.
Happy Oms,

October 17, 2014 (17:14) - Reply

Leave a Comment