I find that the holidays are a time of Absolute Overwhelm. Making sure I have purchased gifts for the family equitably (like we all sit there with a calculator on Christmas morning), prepared joyful cards and letters for delivery before year end, made sure the holiday menu includes all the family traditions (Caramel Bubble is a Christmas morning must have), arranged travel home and back to college for my kids, arranged for a tree and getting it decorated by said children before they head back to college after Thanksgiving… is overwhelming. Having one less week between Thanksgiving and Christmas makes me feel like I’ll still have turkey leftovers on New Year’s Eve. Whew. Time to hit the pause button.
In Tara Brach‘s book Radical Acceptance, she recommends the “Sacred Pause”. This is a break from constant striving. Isn’t that the American way? To constantly strive. Who has time for a pause? You do; especially this time of year. Have you ever woken up on New Year’s Day and wondered where the holidays went? That means you never paused. Take in the moment. Drink it up. Take a break and be present.
Here some ways to hit the pause button:
1. Stop. Stop what you are doing. Put down the dishes. Stop liking on Facebook. Get out of your inbox. Put your phone on the charger and walk away. Close out all the windows on your desk top. Turn off the TV. Don’t try this while driving, unless of course, you are not the driver. Just stop.
2. Space. Find a space to be. Sit in your favorite chair. Stand at the window. Lay down on the couch. Go for a walk outside. Sometimes a complete change in environment or temperature can help break the spell. If you are outside raking leaves, you might want to go inside. If you are inside and have been sitting at your desk for two hours straight, you might want to go outside (this may require a jacket and gloves…use your best judgment). Be in your space.
3. Eyes. Close your eyes. When our eyes are shut, it’s so much easier to reconnect with ourselves. It turns on our other senses. You smell the coffee. You hear the wind outside or the hum of the light bulb. You feel the temperature of the room or the gravity of your feet against the floor. You taste the sourness of the orange juice. Shutting your eyes turns off the constant barrage of information.
4. Breathe. Take some deep breaths. Feel your chest rise and fall. Feel the air come in and out of your nostrils. Feel your body soften as the air leaves your body. When I find my breath, I become centered. Present. There is no grocery-list-making when you are focused on your breath. Just breathe.
5. Inhabit. Tara recommends inhabiting the pause. I love that image. Inhabiting the pause. Living in yourself. Being yourself. I invariably feel tension in my shoulders. I concentrate on letting go. Release the tension. Let go and inhabit the pause.
Find a time to hit the pause button. Before you take a shower, head into that meeting, decorate the tree or bake your sugar cookies, find a time to just pause. Don’t wait till New Year’s Day and find the holidays are gone and you never just connected with the moment. Do it NOW.