Taking a Break

What is inside of a pause, inside a break? What is allowed to come to life because of a pause we took and what space is created by that pause?
We tend to look at taking a break as doing nothing, being unproductive, being lazy, et cetera — when what we really are “doing” is being, resourcing, refilling the empty cup of what we have to share, tending the waning flame of our vitality, putting that almost-literal self-battery on the charger.
I once heard someone say, “When our electronics are low on batteries, we charge them or put them to sleep or turn them off so they have enough juice to get through the next period of time, yet we have such a difficult time doing the same for ourselves.”
Taking breaks and exercising the act of resting is not a privilege; it is our responsibility.
We have to be replenished in order to offer our own resources. If we give from an empty place we, at best, are giving a small percentage of what we actually could — at worst, what we are attempting to do is harmful, both to others and to ourselves. Just think: if we continue to not rest, break or pause, we are reinforcing our actions as a valid way to live for those who are watching us: our peers, children, partners, et cetera.
During the first many months of Covid quarantine, we had the silver lining of it being a teacher.
Some of us reveled in what was showing up in the space of the forced break; some of us didn’t like what was coming up at all; some of us experienced a bit of both.
Remember the creativity coming out of that time? The vastness, the expansiveness? Now we are returning to the hustle and bustle of life before Covid, and it worries me that we’ve learned nothing from this tragic, yet valuable experience.
Remember that resting is not doing nothing. SO much is happening when we rest and break. For those of us who struggle to give into the value of taking a break or resting, it can help to be given concrete, scientific benefits. Here are a few powerful reasons to surrender to a pause:

– improved mood balance
– stronger immune system
– better weight control
– optimized brain function
These reasons above are enough, but — because we are operating inside of a very “do or die” societal system — these subtle yet powerful benefits are easy to set aside and ignore in favor of the highly rewarded “productivity” mindset and way of living.
While stats are always helpful to know, equally important are the data we can collect from empirical evidence and the accumulated experience of what Mother Nature has to teach us. Tuning into and living with the rhythms of nature — and of life itself — can provide you with your own reasons for incorporating pauses, breaks and time to just “be” into your life. Don’t take anyone else’s word for it. Try it and see what emerges.
There are some things we can’t just do or hit the books to learn or achieve or perform. Some things, some truths, need to be allowed to wash over us. We must be in humble submission, out of the typical columnar and chronological aspects of life. We are asked to stand aside and allow these truths to come in; we can’t necessarily go and “do” them. And they come when we are ready (which you may find often occurs when you are in a paused state of being).
This won’t be cognition. This stuff will land in your body.
These truths are the uncontainable, amorphic parts of life and they are somewhat, if not completely, inaccessible to us when we are in doing, achieving, performing mode. The fact that they are less tangible — less “do this to get that” oriented — is what makes them more difficult to allow in our lives. We still live in a framework that has subscribed to the notion of the “if you’re not doing something, you don’t deserve to take up space on this planet” way of life.
Why talk about breaks now in the middle of a vigorously hot summer month when just last month we talked all about how invigorating and transformative heat can be? Because of the nature of nature. Take a look at this taiji symbol and what you will see, on the face of it, is one light paisley and one dark one, each with a dot of the opposite color inside. So what? Why is this significant?
Let’s examine this symbol briefly first. These 2 shapes you see, the white and the black, actually are each other — but they show up to us, the dualistic human, as two separate things. They are not separate, though; they are one thing with a multitude of expressions — and one expression cannot exist without the other, which is partly why you see the smaller circles inside the larger portions of the shape.
The white side represents the vigorous, awake, energetic aspects of life and self, while the dark side represents the calm, asleep, quiet aspects of life and self. The largest part of the white side represents high noon, the hottest time of day on any given day — and, since life likes to present in fractals, it also represents the hottest time of the year, summer. If we zoom out some more, it also depicts the growth stage/first half of life during any given life span which we discussed in last month’s episodes:

Identity Formation
Play For All Ages
Fake Romance
Seasonally speaking, though, we are in the heat of summer … and where do you see the speck of black? In the largest part of the white paisley, which tells us this season, summer, is a very good time of year to not forget what winter tells us. We are not asked to observe winter’s guidelines to the fullest; just a hint is fine. An afternoon siesta, a family vacation away from the office and day-to-day hustle and bustle, a cool dip in a pool during the hottest portion of the day … you get the idea.
So, following the rhythm of nature, we encourage you to set up breaks for yourself — whether it’s a sabbatical (dream big!!), a week-long vacation, a weekend doing absolutely “nothing,” a mid-week luxurious bath to break up the mad dash of your day-to-day hustle, or even three deep breaths at your desk if that’s truly all you can fit in.
At what time has taking a pause, a break, or slowing down and getting quiet affected your life?