Leaping From Comfort to Change Through the Power of Pause

To live is so startling it leaves but little room for other occupations.

(Emily Dickinson)

By KM Huber

We live breath by breath with little regard for the power of pause, that moment between inhaling and exhaling, releasing one breath for yet another, a moment of wakefulness always available to us.

The power of pause is the quiet courage of the heart resonating throughout our bodies while our heads wonder what might be next. The power of pause requires us to listen as if we were hearing for the first time. It is that crisp, that charged.

The power of pause resides not in analysis but in awareness, a reach into the unknown. It requires us to empty our minds much like Randall Jarrell’s bored, sick child who entreats all of existence: “all that I’ve never thought of think of me.” It is a trusted leap from comfort to change, the voyage in to all that we are.

Within each one of us is a unique, natural rhythm of living. Only we can discover our own flow, our tributary that connects us to all life. It is a “startling” discovery, not lending itself to a life of daily lists or to the inertia of self-absorption but to commitment without being attached to its outcome. We take a breath, and go “all in.”

Rather than outcome, we focus on compassion, gratitude, love, and joy— the ego-less emotions—emerging from the thoughtfulness requisite to the power of pause. We go within ourselves to discover the best we have to give to the world and then, we deliver.
The Pause of Life 101313

The power of pause requires us to quiet ourselves, to allow the storm of the world to swirl round the eye of our inner selves. In the stillness, we discover who we are beyond the business of the world of to-do lists. In the moment that it takes to breathe, we see the spark of us–our own light–reveal our way.

There is a well-known story regarding two scientists who travel halfway around the world to meet with a Hindu Sage, eager to hear the Sage’s thoughts on their theories. They meet in the Sage’s garden. He pours tea and continues pouring although the cups overflow with the tea.

Finally, one of the scientists says, “‘Your holiness, the cups can hold no more.’ The Sage stops pouring and says, ‘Your minds are like the cups. You know too much. Empty your minds and come back. Then we’ll talk'” (Leroy Little Bear in Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening).

No matter how frequently we find ourselves in situations reminiscent of the scientists and the Sage, the energy of awareness pulses through us, emptying our minds so as we breathe in the new, we relax into the power of pause before releasing into the next breath.

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

(“The Red Wheelbarrow,” William Carlos Williams)


KM Huber is a writer who learned Zen from a beagle. She believes the moment is all we ever have, and it is enough. In her early life as a hippie, she practiced poetry, and although her middle years were a bit of a muddle, she remains an overtly optimistic sexagenerian, writing prose. She blogs at kmhubersblog.com, may be followed on Twitter @KM_Huber or contacted by email at writetotheranch[at]gmail[dot]com.

© 2013 KM Huber. All content on this page is protected by copyright. If you would like to use any part of this, please contact me at the above links to request permission.

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