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The Sacred Pause

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In minutes, I am heading for my weekly restorative yoga class. In this class, I become my opposite. Not doing, being. Not rigid, yielding. Not active, passive. Not striving, but surrendering. When I walk in, I lie down on my mat, the first thing I take is a big breath and sigh. Aaaah, home. It is time to pause.

Podcaster, author, and Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach has a lovely name for the moment we desist from our relentless activity: the Sacred Pause. I am learning to understand the power of the sacred pause. It is the moment of reflection that gives us choice. The choices I make after a pause are, without fail, better than those made without stopping. We need only think of an email we wish we had not sent or some words we cannot take back to conjure up some examples of times when we regret not pausing. 


I use the pause more often, these days. To keep myself focused and productive, I work in 25-minute sprints, with five-minute breaks in between. After six sprints, I take a longer break. In the breaks, I try to remember to stretch, breath and tune into my physical and energetic state. I use a little app, Focus Keeper, to manage my time. Of course, I don’t always stick to the sprints and rests perfectly, but I find that those pauses give me time to reflect on what I am doing and why. It’s surprising how often I find myself driving away from the tasks I intended to do, and the pause helps me remember to get back to what is most important. And, at the end of the day, I have a count of perhaps 12 or more sprints to add to the sense of achievement I feel from the tasks I have ticked off the never-ending To Do list.

Writing Hackathon

At my fortnightly Writing Hackathons (2 hours of focused writing time), I use the focus keeper with my clients, too. Before each sprint, we set our intentions out loud to each other and then write quietly for 25 minutes. In the breaks, we share our progress (or not) with each other. It’s a great way to ensure niggling writing projects get done: a keynote speech, a blog, a proposal, a book chapter.

90-day review

I pause every 90-days to hold a ‘company retreat’ for a day or two. With my assistant and daughter, Audrey, we celebrate what we have achieved, look at what we have learned, and set our intentions for the next 90 days. I learned this rhythm when I was a member of the Thought Leader Business School, and I kept it even after I left. While the TLBS gathers for its ‘immersion’, I am also immersed in this pause to my business operations.

Delivery free fortnight   

Every few months, I also schedule a two-week break from delivering my mentoring and training programs to clients. I may take a short or longer break in this time, nurturing my health and spirit, or I may keep working on non-delivery tasks, such as sales, redoing my website, writing a book, and so on. This allows me to regroup, and replenish, and make sure I have the energy to give fully and completely to my clients on my return.

Why sacred?

The dictionary definition of sacred is cherished. How perfect. I cherish these exquisite moments of rest. In the pause, comes change, and choice. In the pause, comes a chance to reset, and start again. Having a bad day? Pause, and reset. Not getting through the work? Sprint, pause, and sprint again. This choice is always is always open to us if we remember to pause.

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