“It’s too much,” my client told me. “I just can’t deal with it all. I was able to do it for a long time, and I now simply don’t have the energy.” My coaching client (whom I will call Anna) was anxious, stressed, often unable to sleep. And she had become angry with herself for being unable to keep up the usual pace. The usual pace, of course, would tire an Olympian.
Although she wasn’t totally aware of it, she did know her problem: “There was too much.” As simple as it may sound, I introduced Anna to the concept and reality of “stopping.” As I pointed out to Anna, although it seemed as though her life had moved into “fast forward” rather suddenly; in fact, she had been gradually living a life of too much for a long time. But like all mountains that we create, it wasn’t until she reached her maximum point that she could no longer keep up the pace. It was like putting one more item into a too-full suitcase.
So when did it become “too much?” As Anna grew in greater awareness of what she wanted to invest her spirit in, she realized that there was little space for personal growth or nourishment. That’s when she became acutely aware of “too much.”
I began coaching Anna to practice “pausing”—which is the act of doing nothing for a specific period of time (stopping)—from five minutes to five days if desired.
Anna began with five minutes each day. Five minutes was painful for her at first. She associated the space with “wasting time,” “not getting something done,” etc. But by staying with it, the internal uncluttering that she did in the state of stopping for five minutes was very powerful. It required that she be alone with herself. It allowed her to see herself much more clearly and to remember over time who she really was—what she actually wanted. In other words, she began to see her real self—her truth.
To practice “pausing,” simply set aside five minutes a day to do absolutely nothing. Find a refuge—the bathroom if you have kids! Yes, I know they’ll knock, so wait until they go to bed. But do find the time and space. During that period of pausing, remain silent, do nothing—absolutely nothing—and see what happens. Continue this every day, and you will become more and more able to do it. Over time, you will remember important things about yourself.
Pausing will allow you to restore balance and energy to your weary spirit. It may cause you to feel sad, relieved, or even angry. Releasing the feelings within you is a beginning toward mindful living.
Sometimes, when we refuse to allow ourselves stopping points, our bodies make them happen for us. We develop migraines, colds, the flu—ways of making our bodies stop.
Instead, commit to conscious moments in which you pause and do nothing. It is then that you will really be doing something!