We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.
—Thich Nhat Hanh
I grew up listening to Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Genesis, Journey, Bob Seger and a variety of other iconic 70’s artists. Jackson Browne was a favorite, and one song in particular resonates with Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote. It went something like this, “Running on – running on empty. Running on – running blind, running on – running into the sun, but I’m running behind.”
Here is your Thanksgiving challenge: stop running. Pause. Experience joy, breathe in contentment and exhale gratitude.
As parents we tell our children to “eat slowly,” “take your time on your homework,” and “brush your teeth longer than 5 seconds!” We emphasize slowing down and yet what do we model for them? “Hurry up! We are going to be late!” The conflict between getting things done and slowing down can be an aggravating catch 22.
How we run, and often tumble, from texting to calls to chores to work to kids’ practices to household demands to friends and events; whew, exhausted, we keep running. Can we really live fully when we are hastily shifting from one moment to the next?
Here are a few ingredients for your Thanksgiving recipe:
Take 5 in the car: No, not minutes or the 5 freeway. Deep, flourishing breaths before you turn the motor on. Five deep breaths, eyes closed, to slow down, focus on a solid center. When you begin to drive, perhaps no podcast, radio or news, instead drive in silence, taking in the color of the sky, the passing dwellings where a potpourri of lives are blending as you cruise by.
Make contact: While doing chores at a grocery store, post office or gas station, take a moment to make eye contact with someone. Smile, make a nice comment, and notice. That’s it, a little pause to connect with another human, who most likely is running too.
Sanctuary now: Is there a place you can call “sanctuary” in the house? Sanctuary is a word I love. Its meaning is related to worship yet also means a place of repose, protection, and reflection. Select a small corner in your bedroom or a room not being used, even a deck chair out on the patio, and make it your sanctuary. Adding a candle, a beloved photo, a vase with fresh flowers, a throw blanket or pillow can all accentuate this as your “pause place,” not for being checked out, quite the opposite…for being considerate and remembering to check in with yourself.
Read: Most of us have a book we thought would be a fun, useful, or inspiring read which has gathered dust on a bedside table. Take it out and keep it close by and pause as you consume a few pages.
In the words of Willie Nelson, “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Well, what about today if you say, “When I started taking little pauses, my whole attitude turned around.”
This is your cause; pause. Breathe, notice, smile, connect, read, be grateful and repeat. Here’s wishing you a Thanksgiving cornucopia brimming with pleasing, grateful, restorative pauses!