Can I Afford To Pause?
If there is one word to describe the noise of our culture, it would probably be CONSTANT. Artificial lights and sounds and activity fill our days and our brains.
Some of it is a lot of fun. Smart phones really are Jetson-like technology, and I love having a library of things to read or my whole collection of music at my fingertips.
But the constant noise follows us from work to home to play. We find ourselves constantly jumping from task to task, afraid everything will collapse if we don’t keep up the frantic pace.
We are left stressed, distracted and short-fused. But what do we do about it?
The practice of mindfulness is about making choices to pay attention to the life we are living right now, not always distracted by our to-do lists, what happened in the past, or what is happening next.
With mindfulness, we can create spaces in our time so that we can make genuine choices. Old habits are based on choices made long ago, and we may not have ever looked at them. When we stop to consider, it might not be the choice to take us where we want to go.
When emotional triggers happen, there is a cycle. First there is an event, then our thoughts about the event (interpretation), then our feelings get stirred up (emotional response), then we take action (behavior). With a pause before the reaction, however, we take a few seconds to be deliberate. Instead of moving right to action, we stop and look at our thoughts and feelings. We use the pause to ask questions – like “what am I thinking right now” or “why does this cause so much anger?” By pausing, and using that pause to engage our mind, we stop acting based on habit, and give ourselves power to choose.
As Christians, all of us absolutely need to create pauses. When I fill my head from dawn to dusk with the thoughts and sounds of other people, I don’t let God’s word seep into my heart. When I’m constantly distracted, I do not turn my mind to considerations of scripture or sitting quietly in meditation or prayer. And furthermore, I become a person on auto-pilot. I just react, instead of choose.
I will not be able to change and grow nearer to God unless I take control of my mind, and that requires pauses.
Can I afford to pause? Absolutely – in truth we can’t afford not to.
You will keep him in perfect peace,
Whose mind is stayed on You,
Because he trusts in You.