The Gift Of The Pause

By Susa Silvermarie

pause button


Today my sister spoke of getting up from her kitchen lunch counter after eating part of a meal, pausing the eating process to put her attention on something else. She shared how, upon returning to her plate, it was easy to have clear awareness of further hunger— or the lack thereof! The gift of the pause. We spoke also of another kind of pause, using whatsapp to talk to each other via sequential voice messages. It gives us a pause to lift our listening up, a pause that elevates each communication into an island rising above the fast waters of our normally speedy conversation.

A pause in a line of music, or a line of poetry, has the lovely name of caesura. Perhaps that’s what it is when I meditate, that pause that happens naturally at the end of each exhale.

It is as if my body is waiting to discover whether there will be another, or whether this breath may be the conclusion of the Susa story. The Budhist teacher Pema Chodron teaches us to step into the present moment with a pause practice; Create a gap in your discursive mind, she says, recommending three conscious breaths anytime we feel stuck or need to bring forth awareness of behavior and thought patterns.

Cultivating the practice of the pause can gift us with the freedom to choose a different pattern.

My Mexican life is full of pauses that emerge when expected events, as planned by puny humans, do not materialize. I am learning to experience this kind of pause with curiosity.

Mexican acceptance is rubbing off on me, and it is much deeper than its surface appearance of passivity. What opening am I being offered?

What doorway into what was not expected? Acceptance becomes a joyful, Beginner’s-Mind kind of wondering—and then, a wandering through a new gate into some unplanned experience!

Such pauses in the turn of events, in an earlier time of my life, would have engendered resistance in me. Sometimes they still do, of course, but this culture seems to hold close the spiritual wisdom of impermanence. It is the path that unfolds, not the path that is planned, that is holy.

I emigrated from a culture that values control more than acceptance, but I am grateful to be growing into a softer attitude about all the pauses and changes that are a natural part of life. And I am grateful that, in its wake, this brings me equanimity, health and alegría. I would be happy to hear your experiences with the gift of the pause at

(Ed. Note: So would we here at the Ojo!)


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