3 Ways To Practice the "Pause" in Your Daily Routine
I am currently sitting in my little chair, strategically placed at the edge of my bed beside an end table. This is the place I sit when I need a moment to myself. Sounds a little like a timeout, but I am convinced the only humans on earth that don’t appreciate a good timeout are children. The irony, right? This chair has become my spot. The space I carved out in my itty bitty dwelling within someone else’s home. I read here, write, journal, eat breakfast, pray, drink my morning coffee, and use this space for just about anything that could be considered a “pause moment” whenever I can.
And there it is.
I truly learned the value of this practice through out the tail end of last year. My oh my, last year kicked my butt. The bruising didn't last forever, but the lessons hopefully will. There’s a much simpler, slower pace of life I’m seeking after now. I’m no where near where I’d like to be, and there are a few more drafts and edits to come before the finished paper. But, per the usual, what I’ve learned so far I’ll share with you.
Here are 3 ways to practice the “pause” in your daily routine.
1) Morning meditation
For some people, this might sound slightly new-agy. And, in a certain context, you’re right. But for me, this looks like pouring my morning coffee, hiking back up the stairs and sitting down in my chair for like five to ten minutes. I don’t read. I don’t talk. I don’t write or do a run down of today’s schedule. I try to get as quiet as possible and simply ask God to do this: “Clear my mind and heart to receive Your truth today. Prepare my spirit to perceive what You are doing. I’m just gonna sit here and wait for You to say something before I start my day.”
And I’ll just sit there.
Eyes closed and coffee in hand. I do my best to quiet all my thoughts and not worry about what comes next.
I realize some of you might not have the luxury of sitting quietly in your room without someone needing you for something. Like, kids. And for that, I have a suggestion. Now, obviously I’m not a mom—but I nannied three kids for a year. Which basically makes me an expert, right?
But I’ll do my best to adjust the method for ya. While I nannied, I lived with them, cooked for them, woke up at 5am every morning making sure the baby was fed and diaper changed, making lunches for school, and prepping their clothes for the day. It was complete chaos somedays, but I still practiced this “pause” in the morning. This is how: whenever I would feed the baby, I would sit in another room, quietly pray, and ask God to speak to me—or just talk to Him. Sometimes the older kids would barge in and interrupt the peace, but for the most part they knew that bottle feeding time was quiet time. Likewise, if I had a minute when the kids were changing themselves into their clothes for the day, I would pause and try to find a moment of rest for my mind, even though my body couldn’t rest yet.
What I learned was this: being a mom is really hard. So, a million and a half kudos to all of you mamas out there! You guys run the world and that's all there is to it.
Okay, ladies. There is this little myth that has been fed to us as truth since we were little girls. And its called “multi-tasking”. Oh, how we pride ourselves on our multi-tasking abilities, don’t we? “Look at me hold a baby and a bottle, pour a cup of coffee, open my laptop and send an email, then fold laundry all at the same time! Look at me!”
That baby needs his head properly supported and your dripping the milk down his cheek onto your pants (embarrassing), that email legit has like twenty typos (let’s hope autocorrect didn’t have its way with you), and the laundry is going to need refolding later. And you know it. “But females are more mentally efficient!” Well, yes, but what that actually means is we have an easier time figuring out how to get something done with more efficiency and with less energy—not doing more at the same time.
See the difference?
So, let’s stop the attempts at this mythical ability and settle on some single-tasking. Here’s why: when you single-task, you get more done and you do it with far greater excellence. Multitasking is essentially trying to do something while getting distracted by something else. Neither of those two things will get done well. Or maybe not even at all. That's not to mention the sheer levels of stress when we experience when trying to focus on too many things. It’s like having two conversations with two different people: you’re going to miss a few details in both because your brain literally cannot focus on both sets of information input.
It's science, really.
"So, where does the pause moment come in, Alexa?” I’m so glad you asked! With single tasking, you can set a certain amount of time dedicated to getting that one thing done. When the time it up (finished or not), you take a break and take a walk. Go get a snack, fill up your water bottle, take a minute to step outside into some fresh air, let the sun meet your skin. You can do this without being stressed because you just accomplished what you intended to before. And now you can re-engage with a new task refreshed and with a clear focus on it.
3) Bare All
That's right. Get naked.
And then jump into the shower.
And then get mentally naked, too.
Confused? Okay, so here’s how it goes.
Being naked in the shower is probably one of the most vulnerable positions to be in. Sometimes you can even get a little self-conscious by yourself---which is super weird, because it's not like you haven't seen yourself before. But it's just this slightly awkward in-between moment of taking off your clothes and actually getting into the shower that you try to keep as short as possible. TMI? #Sorrynotsorry. You just literally have nothing to cover you up (thanks a lot, Eve)!
So, take a cue from that experience and take your thoughts in the shower with you and let it all out. As you clean your body, try a little mental cleaning too. Take these ten minutes (or thirty, if you’re one of those people), and examine what's been rolling around in that head of yours all day. What consumed your concern? What captured most of your attention? What was it that emotionally hijacked you?
Get mentally naked and strip it all down. Then decide what you’re going to let go down the drain and what you’re going to let stay.
I would also recommend journalling these things, but I know not everyone likes to write stuff down or they simply don’t have the time (I gotchu, mamas). But everyone should be able to snag five minutes in the shower to clean it up real quick.
Try these out tomorrow or sometime later this week. Or maybe pick one for the next three days and see how it helps you slow yourself down internally. We don’t all have to become monks to enjoy a life of rest. It’s not about keeping your body from working hard. Just find what works for you. What I've learned is that “pause moments” and finding that slower pace of life we all wish we had more of really comes down to small choices. You can either scroll through Instagram for those five minutes you have to yourself OR you can close your eyes and pray, simply sit in silence, or read something encouraging.
It's all about what is going to give value to your life in that moment. You get to choose the quality of your pause moments. And they can be practiced by anyone, in any situation, at any time.
Alexa | Joy