Do you ever wish you could just hit the pause button? With everything we have experienced in 2020, there may have been a moment or two (or many) where pausing for just a moment could’ve helped us ride the (tidal) waves with a little more grace.
We use P.A.U.S.E. as a teaching acronym, which stands for Pause, Allow, Untangle, Settle, Engage. When we Pause, we take an intentional, momentary break from the stimulus-response pattern of our overly-full days. In this pause, we can Allow what is happening in that moment to just be there—name it, feel it, get to know it—without shoving it aside or under the rug. Then we can Untangle from its clutches, seeing if we can feel our feet on the ground and creating a little space in our minds, bodies, and hearts. In that space we can then Settle, shifting our attention to the breath—breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5 and noting the equanimity that brings. Ready now to re-Engage, take a moment first to express gratitude for this practice before getting back to all of what December brings.
This P.A.U.S.E. is a practice of mindfulness and self-care. Mindfulness asks us to pay attention with kindness and curiosity. Checking in with ourselves allows us to better understand what we’re feeling, empowering us to choose our behaviors.
We invite you to join us throughout the month of December as we P.A.U.S.E. each day and find gratitude for the present moment. Through sensory awareness, each week we will be focusing on one of the senses so that just before you re-Engage, you will have the opportunity to find gratitude for one thing you can hear, see, touch, smell, or taste.
Week 1 — Hear: What are the sounds you hear this week? When you pause, see if you can put all your attention into your ears noting what is around you. Is it the sound of children playing, dogs scratching, water running, leaves blowing, radiators clanging or silence echoing? Try your best not to judge the sounds you hear; rather, let them come into your awareness and then fade away. We can’t wait to find out what you heard!
Week 2 — See: What are the sights you see this week? Do you notice holiday lights? Winter coats? Fluffy snow? Raindrops on windows? Fire in the fireplace? Maybe you pause and spend an extra moment looking around your surroundings for the little things that may go otherwise unnoticed. Enjoy all the new sights you see.
Week 3 — Touch: Rub the tips of your fingers together and notice how that feels. As you stimulate your sense of touch, notice what else you become aware of. Is it the weight of the cozy sweatshirt on your shoulders? Your cold toes in your socks? The feeling of the hard surface you’re sitting on? The pull of the elastic behind your ears from the mask you’re wearing? Or your tense shoulders up by your ears or furled brow?
Week 4 — Smell: Your sense of smell can often conjure strong memories. Ever walk by someone wearing a perfume or cologne that reminds you of someone in your past? Or smell something cooking on the stove that brings you back to a certain time of year? The sense is directly connected to a part of your brain that stores those memories. In this moment, see if you can take a breath in noting the first thing you smell and become aware of the thinking that follows. Once you’re left the moment of just smelling and shifted into that story, bring yourself right back to this moment reminding yourself that this is a natural and normal occurrence and you have the power to re-focus your attention.
Week 5 — Taste: What are the tastes that are lingering at the moment? Can you still taste that sip of coffee or the sweetness of a holiday treat? Or do you notice the minty fresh feeling of just having brushed your teeth or the aftertaste of swallowing vitamins? Take this moment to notice what you can taste and appreciate the nourishment you’re giving yourself without any judgment.
Life is filled with distractions. So remember to give yourself permission to pause in the middle of it all to become present. Standing a little taller and becoming a bit more grounded just might empower you with more resilience. Try it and let us know.
As an organization, we are taking an intentional Pause to reflect on 2020 before ushering in 2021. In Allowing the swirl of responsibilities, to-do lists, virtual gatherings, tying up loose ends, and eating, we can Untangle from the storm of what is often the month of December and just Settle into the present moment. This gift of tuning in is where all the magic happens before we then re-Engage in our day and a new year full of hope and possibilities.
We have so many things to be grateful for at this time of year, including your support, which is what makes this all possible. Let’s all keep advocating in the new year for these invaluable skills for people of all ages.
From all our staff at Center for Resilience, we wish you many mindful moments to P.A.U.S.E. this holiday season.
Click here to download the #CFRPauseChallenge calendar for the month of December.
Click here to download a printable P.A.U.S.E. sign to hang up as a visual reminder..