Returning to clinic after a week-long meditation retreat, as I did in the beginning of June, patients often greet me with seemingly wistful curiosity.  In their interest I perceive an almost epidemic cultural hunger for pause, which is further expressed in the conditions and concerns for which patients come to me for careA downtown CEO once gazed around my treatment room as I was taking his pulse and commented, “There is no place in my life that is this calm.”

So much of the meaning in our lives and the texture of our culture revolve around doing, producing, and accomplishing.  We fill every moment of our days.  A rampant sense of ‘time scarcity’ pervades modern urban life.  This continuous activity has consequences for the health of our bodies, hearts and minds. Patients arrive in my clinic with sleep problems, anxiety, pain, headaches, menstrual irregularities and digestive problems.  A critical element of my clinical work is supporting each individual to identify how they manage stress, help them understand the relationship between stress and their health, and together develop strategies so they can find balance and optimum health right in the context of their lives.

After all, we choose to live in this thriving, vibrant city.  And many of us are nourished by the dynamic qualities of our community So how can we find pause right in the midst of our full lives, create moments when, as Gary Eberle articulates in his book Sacred Time, “The clock does not stop, of course, but we do not hear it ticking”?

Below are some simple ideas for how you can create pause this summer, breathing space right in between moments.

  • Check your inbox just a little less often.
  • Eat lunch somewhere other than in front of a computer.  Outside would be great.
  • For an hour, a morning or a whole day, adjust the settings of your phone or PDA so it doesn’t ring or vibrate or sing or dance every time a call or message comes in.
  • When you’re next at a stop light or cross walk, notice the sensation of your feet.  Simply notice.  If you’re at a crosswalk, consider waiting through one cycle and just watching the world go by.
  • If someone in front of you is walking or driving slowly, rather than trying to pass them, try adjusting to their speed and relaxing whatever tension you feel created by your hurry.
  • The next time you drink a warm or cold beverage, sit down and just drink. Savor it.
  • When organizing your social life, consider whether you are scheduling out of a sense of obligation or pleasure.  Is there room to prioritize activities which provide joy and nourishment?
  • Take three deep breaths right now.  Exhale to the very bottom and even pause for just a second with your body empty of breath.  Allow your lungs to naturally fill, the breath like the tide coming into shore.  The breath is always at your disposal as a gift and a tool.
  • Have a look at the Meditation and Stress Management section of my website.  There are free articles, written instructions and guided meditation MP3s for download.
  • Spend some time with a small child engaged with play.
  • Move at the pace of someone over 80 for half an hour.
  • Go on a temporary Facebook fast or its equivalent in your life.
  • Spend some time in or beside a body of water; a river, a lake, the Sound.
  • The next time you pass someone busking {playing music} outdoors, if you enjoy it, pause to listen to the end of the song.
  • Attend the weekly Downtown Lunch Hour meditation I offer every Monday 12:30-1pm.
  • What ideas might you add to the list?  Are there ways that you already create pause in your days?

In addition to the ongoing lunch hour meditation, I offer workplace and educational presentations on some of the physical and mental health benefits meditation provides as outlined in my article Why Meditate. Through these presentations I reach beyond the bounds of my clinic to engage people open and interested to know how meditation can impact their health and their life.  If you know people working in the downtown core, encourage them to contact me regarding a workplace presentation to benefit themselves, their co-workers and their company.