The power of the pause
The week between Christmas and New Year's, whether we're back to work or still on vacation, always has a slightly unreal, out-of-time feeling. The holiday frenzy is over, and yet we don't have the start-fresh motivation of January 1st.
While this undefined state can be uncomfortable for some, there is great value in the "pause." In Kundalini yoga, after completing a demanding sequence I love how we sit in stillness and silence for a few moments before moving on. It's lovely to notice the relief settling into burning muscles, the tingling of blood flowing back into extremities, the pulse slowing. One of my favorite teachers often says, this is "where the magic happens," and that has stuck with me.
We often think that it's "work" -- exertion and endurance and effort -- that brings us results, yet that's only half of the story.
If you've ever tried to pour hot water through a coffee filter too quickly, you know the importance of the pause. Balancing exertion with resting and witnessing is not only a very appealing equation but also essential for growth and integration. We've all seen the research showing how meditation and mindfulness increase creativity and productivity. We need to alternate effort with ease, focused thinking with diffuse thoughts. We need to let actions and ideas sink in and take root, and this happens best in silence and stillness.
However, it requires a bit of intention to take the pause. It's very American, for example, to skip savasana, the deep rest at the end of a yoga practice, because doing "nothing" can be uncomfortable, sometimes even frightening. At the very least it can feel like we're not "accomplishing" anything.
Still, yoga teachers know that savasana is the most important posture, just as bodybuilders know that giving their muscles time to repair makes them stronger. When at rest our bodies and our minds can incorporate and integrate the effects of our efforts.
Just a few days remain before 2019 is upon us. Your body, mind, and spirit have had a busy year, and more demands, goals, and challenges lie ahead. Embrace the pause.