There Is Peace In The Pause
"Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” –Viktor E. Frankl
My journal prompt the other day asked me, "What new habit can you start?"
A "new" habit? I've tried 'em all! Exercise, meditating, eating clean, reading, making art -- you name it, and I've somehow kept up with it. What came up for me and onto the page, instead, was a reminder to re-start the habit of slowing down, of pausing.
Naturally, the Universe wanted to reaffirm my answer by presenting to me, directly post-journaling, the quote above by Viktor E. Frankl. I was flabbergasted by the coincidence, as I always am, and which maybe I shouldn't be, because when you're living "in alignment" as much as you can in each moment, well, things start to feel... aligned.
We've been more or less forced into a version of pausing recently. We've been told to stay home, to work from home, do everything at home. Staying at home doesn't automatically mean that you've actually pressed pause, though. It's a bit more subtle than that, and it's easier than you might think to find the pause, that space that Frankl talks about between stimulus and response.
Take the breath, for instance. Inhale, and you'll notice the subtlest pause before it turns into an exhale. Finish the exhale, and you'll find another pause before that turns back into an inhale. How often do we bring our attention to these pauses? Somehow it makes the next breath sweeter, deeper, more present. We can liken each inhale to a stimulus and each exhale to a response. In that case, the pause between breaths is the space between the stimulus and the response. And then it turns into a cycle. We can ask ourselves, Do I want the cycle to be unconscious or conscious? It seems so inconsequential until we bring our attention to it.
Bring to mind a time when something's annoyed you or someone's made you feel angry. Our external reactions are so fast, and our internal ones, even faster. The pause seems so imperceptible, because we rush right past it to make our response manifest. We want our outrage to be heard and our fire to be seen! But if we find the pause in between an inhale and an exhale, we have that much more time to choose our reaction. We can keep the tension going, or we can soften it, and then soften it further, and soften it even further, until it's all calmed down, and our internal and external draws to react slow down to the pace of the breath. Do I want the cycle to be one of peace or one of war?
Sometimes I think my eyerolls are automatic. They happen so quickly. But I'm reminded that there's the tiniest pause between the thing that pissed me off and my making it known that I'm pissed off. It's the "new habit" I'm creating, after all!
I think that in each pause, there are multitudes of infinities. And each infinity holds a different quality of love: peace, presence, patience, joy, understanding, awareness, forgiveness, kindness, consciousness. More pause, more love. The beautiful thing about the pause is that it's always available to you. After each inhale, and after each exhale.