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The Power of the Pause: 5 Ways to Add a Little Space in Your Life


Feel your heartbeat.

Take a big breath in and let your lungs inflate as full as they can.

Pause and hold.

Now exhale and let all that luscious breath out.

Return to your normal breath or repeat as needed.

Did You Feel that Pause?

The sense of peace that even a 10 second pause can allow your brain to balance the emotional and irrational parts so that you can reason and respond rather than react. Pausing can be the difference between reacting with an old pattern or responding with what you actually want to do or say or feel.

Self-help Can Just be Selfish-Helpish.

I have been a connoisseur of all books labeled self-help. For years after my traumatic brain injury, I read through the latest self-help books like I was on fire. I wiped my face while being a bada**. My Year of Yes wasn’t difficult because I said yes all the time. I released my Big Magic, got Grit, and completed my Happiness Project. Know what? The ultimate outcome was feeling like I wasn’t doing enough and I was thinking of myself constantly. Neither was helpful.

Knowing What You Want Involves Naming What You Want.

Ultimately I paused…out of sadness and confusion. If these popular self-help books couldn’t help me, maybe I was un-helpable. The pause came naturally to me. I’ve always needed a bit of quiet in my life. In physical training, rest days are just as important as workout days. To begin with, muscles need to rest as much as they need to work. Repair can only happen as you rest.

Pausing also gave me time to decide what I wanted. How do you know where to go if you don’t know where you are going? I didn’t want to start a company or buy myself a Gucci purse. When the pages settled, I wanted to have deep relationships with those I love, to write my truth, and to serve where I could. None of these required huge bada** goals.

And even if they did, everyone needs a pause to make sure one is heading in the right direction and recalculate when off course.

You Have Such a Beautiful Brain. Feed It.

Do you know 20% of your oxygen goes directly to your brain function? Truth! When you are overwhelmed and in fight-or-flight mode, your breathing becomes more shallow and you lose oxygen to your brain. Your decision-making skills can become cloudy and confusing. That’s when you need to pause and breathe deeply and calmly to restore balance. Oxygen isn’t all your brain needs. Feed your brain with movement, fresh air, and art…the stuff that makes your heart happy. Enjoyment is your brain’s food too.

Where am I Going to Get Space?

True. Our day-to-day lives are non-stop. If you are waiting for pause to happen, it never will. Nevertheless the great lie of adulthood is after this week/month/year everything will calm down. Part of having room for a pause is making space.

1. Set Your Priorities

Decide what is important right now in your life and more importantly what isn’t important. After a well-intentioned pause, I stopped making homemade food for potlucks…it just stressed me out too much. I started giving restaurant gift cards to friends who had babies. Generally my priority was to serve people but I can do that without stressing myself out. Monitor all the outside voices you are listening to. Are they serving you? Find out here.

2. Turn Off the Phone, Computer, etc.

You know it. I know it. Our screen time is insane. Hopefully you are reading this right now on a screen. Use your screen timer settings to have your phone shutdown at a certain time everyday. However you can override it when you mark certain phone numbers important so you won’t miss that important call. I love/hate this. For example it shuts my phone down about an hour before bed so I can connect with my family and it won’t go back on until an hour after I wake up so I can freely write without distraction. I’m not a saint but it works fairly well.

3. Get Comfortable in Silence

“But I hate silence.” “I can’t think in silence.” As a yoga and meditation teacher, I hear this a lot. For the most part, our world has not wired us well for silence. Silence in conversations, silence in public, and even silence when alone…these can make us uncomfortable. In this case uncomfortable is okay. Silence can bring an emphasis to the situation. Conversational silence can help each speaker to evaluate their thoughts. Silence in public such as at a meeting can add clarity to a topic. For the most part being the first to talk is not advantageous. Silence in your own company can help you really focus on the environment around you.

4. Be Comfortable in the Uncomfortable

Allowing yourself the permission to be uncomfortable can be incredibly freeing. For most part, we want to run from difficult situations so we make the easiest and quickest choice, but rarely is that the best choice for us. When you get in that conversation or that situation where you know it has the potential to get ugly, give yourself grace to stay calm, breathe, and speak your truth with conviction. Pausing before and after can bring you reassurance and confidence to move forward. Sometimes comfortable just keeps us in our same spot…be willing to push the edges a little.

5. Dump Useless Things

Sometimes empty space just like silence makes us jittery. Empty space in our day, empty space on our walls, or even empty space in our closet…we want to feel full, busy, wanted. Let the pursuit of your priorities (#1) help you to get rid of the physical and emotional stuff that doesn’t serve a purpose in your life.

For instance, growing up I always had this idea that I needed to have fine china to be an adult. We didn’t register for any at our wedding because we didn’t even own dishes then. As I got older I received several sets of other’s china that I ultimately did not use. The boxes took up space in my storage area. Eventually I realized I only really wanted my Mom’s china set and I donated the rest. What are some beliefs you think you have to have but ultimately they don’t serve you?

Pausing is more than just taking a momentary break from this moment. It’s also about adding space to your life physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Just as in physical health, a break can ultimately give you the energy to pursue your priorities and your dreams.

In the meantime breathe in deep bring fresh oxygen to your brain and exhale fully.

Focus on the next thing and don’t look back.

The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of The We Spot, it’s employees, sponsors, or affiliates.

Dawn Miller

Dawn is a small-town farm girl who married her mountain man after college. She's a mom of 4 amazing kids and 3 beautiful fur-babies. Having her degree in psychology and English, she pursued social work after college but soon became a SAHM and homeschool teacher. Now that her kids are all older and in high school or college, she has started over with a career in yoga and Christian meditation through Everyday Dawn Yoga. Beyond her family, she loves coffee, dark chocolate, running trails, Jesus, and laughing hysterically until she pees.

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