It can feel easy to get so caught up in ‘all the things’ you have to get done when the workload piles up that you feel like the only way through is not to stop until you’re done.
I get it. It seems logical. When it’s done, you can pause, rest, and figure out what’s next, right? Except the thing about life is, generally it doesn’t stop until we put those markers in ourselves. And it’s harder to know what we need when we’re running on empty all of the time and not slowing down long enough to listen to what our body is telling us.
One time, during a particularly busy period (in all the good ways), I realised I felt what I call ‘spiky’ – a little irritant, closed-off, short on patience. Speaking with my therapist, she encouraged me to close my eyes and breathe for a moment. That was an expensive way to do what I already know to do, but I was paying for the value of having someone guide me into what I couldn’t see for myself. That I wasn’t listening. I was so busy doing to create something, which in itself is a beautiful thing, that I forgot to keep listening as I kept on going.
The clarity that came to me when I did pause?
I need some time off. Away. To be still and at peace.
This was leading right up close to Christmas and suddenly all my soul knew was the need to book in 3 days, 2 nights away for myself that very afternoon that I could work towards as a goal. All the ‘things’ could still get done, but it shifted my energy from ‘going, going, eventually pause maybe someday, not sure when’ to ‘going, going, for the sweet, sweet break’.
That’s not even touching on the mindset shift that happens when you know you’re working towards a break. But it’s the power in the pause.
In that pause, I was able to know exactly what it is I needed to focus on next. In this case, it happened to be a break away to a small, beachside town to simply be. There have been other times I’ve paused while in the throes of busyness to see what it is I need to know. It’s not always “you need a holiday, Jess” though, considering the current intense lack of holidays I’ve had over the past six years, it’s not surprising when it does show up. Sometimes it’s clarity around which way to do the things I’m working on, an understanding of the ease of something that otherwise felt big and overwhelming, or suddenly finding the right words for that situation that felt too big to comprehend otherwise.
You know, those helpful kinds of things.
There’s an Old Zen saying that says:
“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
While I acknowledge it can feel like we simply don’t have time, the benefits we receive from slowing down and pausing (call it what you like) actually help us to get through this busy time, by way of much-needed clarity, more energy and focus, or understanding what it is that we really need to be doing.