The Mindful Pause: A Component of Mindfulness

What is the Mindful Pause? Traditionally a component of “mindfulness” it can be thought of simply as “a moment of full present awareness”.

A simple example of mindfulness happened a few days ago when my husband, Ken, and I met with Hilary Jacobs Hendel, author of It’s Not Always Depression, and her husband, Jon Hendel. Sitting on a restaurant terrace overlooking the pool and the beautiful Hollywood vistas beyond, the four of us were engrossed in our conversation about her book tour and about Ryzio.

Suddenly a waiter came to our table and anxiously announced that we would have to move because a big wind was coming and it might blow the awning away. People all around us were quickly scurrying about as though we needed to avoid a catastrophe. Then John and Hilary looked at each other, we all took a breath (mindfulness practice) and he calmly said, “I don’t feel any wind at all. I don’t think this is an emergency.” We all smiled and slowly moved to another table.

After we were settled we discussed the fact that John had just demonstrated one of our Ryzio principles. It has to do with the “Mindful Pause.”

Taking a Mindful Pause to quiet the mind is part of mindfulness.When emotions begin to stir, when you feel anxious or unsettled, often the norm is to move quickly, to do something. When we act hastily it often takes us off course. It often takes us out of what we call your “Window of Presence,” or state of “mindfulness”, that place where you can feel cool, calm and connected.

When you find yourself in a situation that calls for action, or you are feeling your emotions rise (frustration, fear, anger, etc.) here are three things you can do to achieve the best results:

  1. Pause. This Mindful Pause is the split second between your awareness that something is going on that needs attention and the action you will take.
  2. Breathe. In sync with your awareness that you need a Mindful Pause, take a breath. Just one mindful breath will help settle your nervous system. This will support you to take appropriate action.
  3. Resource. Put your oxygen mask on first. Ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” Sometimes it’s to slow down and just listen. Or, it may be that you need to accompany a team member down the hall to deliver some bad news, but first, you may need to grab your jacket.

If you need to move into high gear to manage a difficult situation, you need a clear head and an immediate plan of action. That means you need to pause, breathe and be sure you assess the situation and make a productive move forward.

One of my perpetual reminders to myself is, “If you want to move faster, slow down.” Add the Mindful Pause, a breath and checking in with yourself before you take action. It will pay rich dividends.

This article was written by Marti Glenn, Ph.D., Ryzio Clinical Director