The power of Pause and a Breath
“The Quieter you become, the more you are able to Hear”~ Rumi
In this time of chaos, we have been isolated from our routines and support systems. We have got a lot of time in our hand to think and spend time with our self but we might end up scratching our inner wounds. Inner wounds like hurt, despair, self-torment, forlornness, hopelessness, suffering, sadness, etc. All these emotions are no less than wounds we have inside us when we are feeling low. When we are not able to cope with the situation or when the situation becomes overwhelming enough to create chaos in our deeper psyche.
We have heard about these psychological and emotional wounds from others when they tell us their stories. Situations like breaking up/ Losing a loved one/ not achieving what one desires/ rejections/ becoming anxious when we have to express or speak up etc. We have felt these wounds in others when we have been empathetic or when we face these situations ourselves.
As we talk about our wounds and listen to other individuals, many say in return that let time pass by and the wounds will be healed. But, how long will it take for the time to pass by? Do we keep waiting for days, months, or years? Does the passing time help us heal? Or do we suppress, or avoid and escape from the situation as time passes by.
Time does heal, true! But how long will we wait for the right time or the time to come in hand and heal it all away through? All the time that we have in our hand at this very moment, what to do with that? Ever gave it a thought? When we are hurt in the very moment, why not heal this moment than to keep waiting for the wheel of time to come back and heal us. Till then shall we suppress and avoid the situation and feeling? It is not the time that heals, it is our action that attempts to heal or avoid.
These psychological and emotional wounds which are invisible outside, however, creates a heavy amount of turmoil and destruction deep inside. It brings those moments of suffering and suffocation that are strong enough to disturb the major domains (Social, psychological, relationship, emotional, and intrapersonal aspects) of our life from inside. When we get stuck with an overwhelming situation it impacts our eating and sleeping pattern and triggers memories as a flashback. It makes us fall apart with tears and sorrow which engulfs us to such a deep level. It becomes as suffocating as stiffness felt during the initial few minutes of cardiac arrest pain.
We either avoid situations and feelings by making ourselves busy or we suppress the feelings using defense mechanisms. Like a nightmare, these feelings and thoughts which we constantly run away from keep coming back in our conscious mind. The implementation of avoidance and suppression strategies makes us feel as if we are healing with time, since running away helps us not to face an overwhelming situation and emotions.
On a longer run, what we actually keep on doing is:
- We keep strengthening the escapism pattern which we mistakenly feel, is healing us. Rather, it buckles up and strengthens the unhealthy coping pattern.
- We make ourselves weaker emotionally every time when we escape from overwhelming emotions instead of at least trying once to deal with them.
- As the time-lapse, it strengthens this pattern of avoidance; makes it more active and stronger rather than healing and reducing its intensity when it strikes back
This is like a bundle of sticks. More and more bundles added, it becomes difficult to break them. However, imagine your belief patterns if negative and fed with escapism, is loaded with lots of sticks. How easy is it to break than?
Constant dealing with situations that we perceive stressful, taxes an individual’s mentally and emotionally. It ends up creating a pattern in an individual's brain in such a way that in the future when the hassles or challenges strike again instead of rethinking or reevaluating we just click the button of this pattern and automatically let the pattern take the lead towards tackling the situation, more like a loop. More like an automatic mode gets switched on to express emotions or thoughts.
For Example: Eating while watching TV. The hand is already patterning which intake of food leading towards the mouth, no matter how engrossed one is with the TV. Similarly, when we greet a known person crossing by and do not get any response in return. It clicks the button of old patterns where the thought processes run as it always does in a similar situation like- “he/she ignored me”, “he or she might be angry”, “he or she is full of ego/attitude”, etc. Neutral or positive thought processes may include thoughts such as – “maybe he/she was lost in thought”, or maybe “he or she couldn’t notice me”.
The shift in perception be it positive or negative, it strengthens the chain of thought in us or maintains the chain. This click of thoughts keeps binding and strengthening our way of thinking and emotion regulation which in turn may bring suffering or increase psychological and emotional wounds inside of us. And these are the wounds if left for healing based upon time, these could strengthen more, and just like the automatic button, these may also keep coming on and off in our psyche.
The immediate outbursts we feel emotionally, mental and emotional exhaustion, confusion about what we are truly feeling are some minute surface-level effects of this tangled world which keep tangling more inside like wool for a sweater, which is left lying and with wind and on the ground, tangling the wool more. To complete the sweater we first untangle it and start it over again.
The whole work of untangling and starting over seems tedious and deeper work. In reality, it is not, the starting is as simple as paying attention to the boiling milk so that it doesn’t overflow. Food that we put in a plate so that it doesn’t look too filled and is not wasted. Paying attention to the selection of clothes; set up a new house or room, all these things which just need a brim of awareness and an eye to notice.
One minute of pause or three deep breaths are enough to give you that space of noticing, that space of awareness, that space to calm the mind and reevaluate or tap into the pattern and to give you the choice to either change it to make it constant.
When we take a deep breath we allow more oxygen to flow in our body and it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which promotes the state of calmness, the stillness at the very moment. Giving you a pause to silence the sense and see a situation, self-thoughts, feeling with an eye of a third person. Allowing self to rethink, reevaluate, and bring awareness with these breaths and this few seconds of pause in our reality. Allowing us to stay still with the constant bulging of thoughts, over bursting emotions like sadness, fear, anxiety, guilt, and anger and quiets the mind to see things through. It brings in the moment of awareness in our consciousness that we keep talking and reading about meditation practices.
The deep Inhale and Exhale give us that moment of pause to get in touch and control the situation rather than letting the situation control us. The only constant thing we have is the presence of Time and everything that can change or changes happens with the ‘Time’. Time keeps running, it is we based upon the choice to change can adapt and heal as the time passes by. And the only thing that remains at the very moment is our body. As time flies, it is only our body which is constantly intact with every moment. Thus, the thoughts and emotions which suffocate us are also temporary but our automatic pattern of clinging or switching on to that button is so habitual that these temporary patterns become stagnant and permanent which we need to change and channelize.
If you get overwhelmed and feel, you are not able to handle a situation or a person/it is going out of control than I invite you to tap on:
- Three deep breaths. Just three. Long deep breath.
- Pay attention to the breath, heartbeat, palpitation. This is the momentary pause
- In that pause moment, notice your emotions and thoughts. Acknowledge what is arising
- Ask yourself, Do I wish to react or shall I pass by for now and reply and deal later.
This corrects your thoughts and helps you not to react immediately. It allows you to reevaluate the situation and tap on to the belief system which we don’t because we get engrossed in reacting.
- When you feel comfortable and are ready, notice what is beneficial for you. What is healthy and making you comfortable accordingly take action to deal with.
Tapping on to these patterns, with a pause brought in by deep breathes can give us that opportunity to choose upon the changes we make in time and as time passes by. Either we can deal and defeat the demons, the nightmares in our real-world, or we can avoid and suppress the patterns. Eventually, leading the loop to stay intact and allow the demon of negative thoughts and emotions to evolve.