Week 4: Practice Pausing
Practicing living in the moment and pausing seems like a concept reserved for people with time and few responsibilities. But when I found my keys in the front door one too many mornings and found the salt in the fridge one day, I decided it was time to give mindfulness and pausing a try.
Like all things new, start small.
Take advantage of red lights: Traffic, commuting to and from work, and running errands can be a tedious task. When rushing from A to B, we rarely focus solely on driving; this is when people often make phone calls, eat lunch in the car, listen to the radio, or bubble over with road rage. But it can also be an opportunity to calm the mind and hone in on the here and now. Take a few deep breaths when you’re stopped. As a bonus you’ve unknowingly started meditating.
Savour your food: So often, eating becomes something we quickly cram into our days. We dine while working, in front of the TV at night, or while browsing the internet. But taking a moment to pause while eating can help you connect with the present moment. With each bite, chew slowly and focus on the smells, flavors, and textures of your meal.
Detach from your phone: In the smartphone age, it seems humans live in fear of any idle time. We grab our phones while riding up an elevator, when a friend makes a trip to the bathroom, or while sitting in the lobby at a doctor’s office. Try a full body scan. Mindfully pay attention to everything from your head down to your toes and without judgment or bias, acknowledge feelings and sensations that come up. This not only brings awareness to the body but also provides the opportunity to release tension before it builds up.
Pause before moving onto something new: It’s easy to leave work with unfinished tasks on the brain or to sit through your kid’s soccer game while thinking about taxes and bills. Try to make a point of not doing this by fully engaging in one task, and then completely switching over to another, while leaving the previous endeavor behind.
Practicing pausing is a process. But it isn’t one that has to involve copious amounts of time. Learning to live in the moment, slow down, and single-task can be achieved by dedicating just a few minutes a day to practicing to focus on the here and now. It’s these little moments that can really add up and make a huge difference.