Before you read any further – pause and breathe.
Yup right now.
Pause and take a conscious breath.
You see pausing is an essential habit of well-being.
When our days are very busy, we don’t take the time to pause even for a moment.
We treat pausing as a reward for getting things done, except we never get everything done, so we never take a pause. We think of pausing as a luxury rather than as an investment in being more conscious and intentional in our choices and actions.
A consistent habit of pausing and paying attention allows us to develop awareness and clarity in the moment and refocus our thoughts and actions.
And when it comes to pausing, taking a few conscious breaths is the most powerful thing you can do.
It’s easy peasy.
You don’t have to change the way you are breathing.
Simply breathe in a way that is normal and natural for you.
The game changer part of this technique is that you’re not only pausing, you are also paying attention to your breathing.
I guarantee that you are breathing right now.
Pretty sure you have been doing it all day.
Chances are though, you haven’t been paying any attention to the fact that you are indeed breathing.
Now that’s not a bad thing.
Imagine if you had to consciously breathe 20,000 times.
Yup that’s how many breaths you take in a day.
When we do pause and consciously breathe, we actually notice that we are inhaling and exhaling. We become aware of this beautiful life-giving act that we do repeatedly on auto-pilot day after day.
It’s this simple act of pausing and paying attention to our breathing makes all the difference.
Pause and breathe to savour the day
That’s why pause and breathe is one of the guiding principles that can help us savour the day no matter what the day might bring.
You see in order to be able to go with the flow and manage the inevitable ups and downs of life, we need both mindfulness and resilience skills.
And the simplest and easiest way to mindfully return to the present moment is to bring our conscious attention to our breath.
This action allows us to centre ourselves in our bodies. We are not thinking about the past or the future. We create embodied presence right here and right now.
The second thing that happens when we breathe consciously is that we activate the parasympathetic nervous system.
This helps to calm the stress response in our body by slowing down our heart rate and lowering our blood pressure. Then we have a greater ability to use other resilience techniques in our toolkit.
So whenever you need to quiet, calm or focus the mind, pause and breathe.
Just focusing on a few breaths—in and out, in and out—can relax the mind and body so you can calmly observe and respond to the world around you, rather than mindlessly reacting to what is happening.
A handy dandy tool
The wonderful thing is that your breath is always with you. It’s always there for you to access as a powerful tool.
When you use this technique of pausing and breathing throughout your day, it can quite literally change your life.
That’s because once we pause and breathe, and begin to settle our mind and nervous system, we can also take a moment to notice what is happening within us and around us. That information can then help to inform our choices in the moment.
When our choices become conscious and intentional, rather than habitual or reactive, well life changes.
When we pause, we have an opportunity to ask powerful questions, such as
What do I need right now?
What is the best use of my time and energy right now?
Pausing also creates a space for shifting our thoughts or energy in the moment so that they better serve our goals and priorities.
Pause and breathe is a technique you can use any time in your daily life. It’s not only a great thing to do if you are feeling distracted, overwhelmed or irritated, it also works well as you transition between activities so you can bring mindful presence to what you are doing.
So look for opportunities to simply pause and take 3 conscious breaths during your day.
While pausing to take a few conscious breaths is powerful on its own, there are certainly lots of other things you can do when you pause.
For now begin with one pause and one breath and go from there.