Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Power of the Pause

I was just reading an article in O Magazine entitled "The O Power List" and I read something that I thought was excellent. In this article, 20 women from many different disciplines are recognized for their contributions in everything from business to the arts. One of these women is 73 year old Pema Chödrön, a former elementary school teacher who was the first American woman to be ordained in the Tibetan tradition. The portion of the article about her is entitled "The Power of the Pause".

You can read the full text if you follow the link to the article, but this portion really touched something in me:
"In the next moment, in the next hour, we could choose to stop, to slow down, to be still for a few seconds. We could experiment with interrupting the usual chain reaction, and not spin off in the usual way. We don't need to blame someone else, and we don't need to blame ourselves.

Pausing is very helpful in this process. It creates a momentary contrast between being completely self-absorbed and being awake and present. You just stop for a few seconds, breathe deeply, and move on."

That truly is a powerful touchstone for me. It's so easy to react and lash out in the old, usual ways when I feel wronged or misunderstood or under-appreciated or whatever. I think it's true that it's easy to seek to place blame somewhere, whether it's on another individual or on myself.

But, what would happen if we all just paused? What if we did short circuit our ingrained behavior to react? I think to do so would mean a truly powerful transformation would occur in the relationships we have (both personally and professionally).

I will strive to integrate the power of the pause in my daily life. A few deep breaths each day are bound to be good for me (and for those around me too)!


olivier said...

Thanks for sharing this Karen, it's as helpfull as your very nice paper about Oracle statistics in my Oracle DBA life ;-)


Joel Garry said...

Sarah Silverman? Man, she makes South Park look Victorian. This raises O in my eyes, but seems a WTF?

My aunt was also a Buddhist nun (Zen Theravadin, starting in the '50s), taught me a lot when she visited in the '60s.

When I was a government contractor, I had to take a lot of deep breaths. One of the reasons they hired me was I appeared able to deal with all the... balderdash.

word: mardshra