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Giving Pause

Just breathe.

By Patricia Noel Breen

“There is a quiet light that shines in every heart. It draws no attention to itself, though it is always secretly there. It is what illuminates our minds to see beauty, our desire to seek possibility and our hearts to love life.” - John O'Donohue

From almost the instant the doors opened to an Internet company I built in the '90s, I saw a change in the very nature of how we would live and communicate as human beings. Without evaluation or discernment we were swept away. The accelerated pace, ceaseless activity and unbounded demand and potential for change and growth introduced during this great shift are now a permanent way of life for most of us.

It has long been my hope that at some point we would pause long enough to observe and examine the full repercussions and new realities created by this major technological transformation, especially the effect on our interest and ability to live intimately within ourselves. This investigation has begun. Here is some of what we know.

Our ability to problem solve has been altered. The repetitive action associated with texting and tweeting and the continual connection through our devises overwhelms and shuts down the part of the brain that allows us to problem solve effectively.

Collectively we are experiencing a growing personal loneliness. At a time when we appear to be almost continually “connected” through our technologies, we are also experiencing a disconnection from something fundamental to human belonging. We spend most of our time in a reactive, outward, focus, looking down and are often connected to someone or somewhere other then with whom we are present in the moment, distorting the very way we are known in the world and to ourselves.

We have not helped our children prepare for a full life. The technologies we hold in our hands have distracted us from sensing and knowing those in our care fully and the technologies they hold in their hands have become a way of life, not a tool to create a life. Many of our young people are entering adulthood without the ability to negotiate meaningful conversation or establish a secure sense of personal ground. We have forgotten to teach them how to create intimacy with others, to identify and understand the rich connection of heartfelt meaning and purpose in to their lives and to seek a personal sanctuary in and from the world.

So how do we find a balance between the continual distraction of our lives and the essential depth of the “quiet light” within the human heart and soul?

We must pause.

In pause, we are able to rebuild the relationship between our wisdom and our actions.

In pause, we are embodied—aware of and connected with our internal experience—allowing us time to access the resources, seen and unseen, needed to thrive in the world.

In pause, we rediscover a peaceful, creative intelligence.

In pause, we have time and space to rest. We can learn to access silence and solitude routinely allowing us to return to our own hearts with nourishment and peace.

In my practice, I have witnessed people recapture their entire lives by learning the simple ritual of pausing. You may begin my taking one deep breath and holding it as you count to three, than exhale. Do this again and again whenever it comes to mind.

Or, you may follow a more elaborate path, there are many. I offer you this:

Wherever you are, right now ... Stop. Take a few calming, deep breaths. One. Two. Three. Four. Let go of the sounds around you, the words and conversations, and draw your attention inward, into your body. For just a moment ... relax. Brea!e.

Breathe and create a welcome spaciousness within yourself. Fill this inner space, this container for your existence with ever softening silence. Just sit "ill and breathe. When you are ready to return, stay and rest a moment longer.

Breathe and from this still and silent center, expand slowly into the awareness of your life ... one breath at a time.


About the author: Patricia Noel Breen is an organizational and leadership development consultant, spiritual psychologist and certified Life-Cycle Celebrant specializing in personal and group transformation. As a celebrant, she is able to draw on the fundamental rites of passage that guide the human experience to create meaningful outcomes for those she serves. She may be reached at [email protected]

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