Loving kindness

Taking Pause

“It’s not so much knowing when to speak, but when to pause.”—Jack Benny, American comedian who died in 1974

What is a pause? Generally, it’s an interlude or gap between two things. Some pauses are long and others brief. Some may seem pregnant with meaning, especially when someone pauses while speaking. If you’re taking a class or attending a speech or presentation and the teacher or speaker stops talking, you probably become intensely aware of the sudden empty space waiting to be filled. Your mind may try to fill in the space with what you assume is coming next, or you may also relish the uncertainty—remaining open to something unanticipated. During that notable pause, you may feel a special connection with the speaker, as well as with everyone else in the room. Had your mind wandered prior to the pause, you may suddenly find yourself very much in the present moment.

In written works, periods, commas, dashes, and colons force the reader to pause and better grasp what he or she is reading. Pauses can help you transition from one activity to another, and even shift your mood. And, pauses can help you experience moments of deep presence—nothing lacking and everything just as it is. As the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has said: “If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.”

Beneath the surface

icebergHuman beings present themselves to the world much like the tip of an iceberg floating in the ocean. Beneath the surface of the myriad of distractions and busyness of life there is an enormous depth of being. Pauses can help you drop the facade and access this depth so you can listen to your own inner voice and connect with your true views and desires and even your intrinsic value system.

Author Virginia Woolf wrote in A Room of One’s Own: “…it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top.” Our body, brain, and spirit need periods of idleness, of non-doing. That’s how ancient hunters and gatherers lived. When they weren’t acquiring food for sustenance, they played, groomed, rested, and gazed at the heavens contemplating their existence in nature and the universe.

One can take pause in prayer, meditation, or simply a deep breath. Longer pauses might be spent in nature, on vacation, or on a sabbatical—from work or even a relationship. When a relationship grows sour, or an impasse ensues following an argument, it can be helpful for each partner to take a time out for inner inquiry and reflection. This creates space to examine beliefs and feelings related to the situation.

In his beloved classic The Prophet Kahil Gibran says this about marriage: “let there be spaces in your togetherness…” A healthy relationship needs spaces for separateness—space to grow individually as well as together. Knowing when to pause, as Jack Benny said, is at the heart of every person’s life. Gibran ends with: “And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.” Like trees, we all need space in order to thrive.

walking pathWhen feeling stuck or blocked in trying to solve a problem or finish a project, shifting one’s attention to something else—taking a walk or breathing deeply—interrupts the brain circuits. You may recall times when you fail to remember a person’s name; the harder you try, the more it eludes you. But when you back away for a moment, it quickly pops into mind. I often take breaks when writing to move my body; I tend to have my most creative insights while walking or even driving. Not surprisingly yoga and meditation foster physical and spiritual opening up.

Practice pausing by noticing your feelings, thoughts, and actions in the moment. Don’t analyze, criticize, or try to fix anything. Simply ask questions like “What do I believe right now?” “Are these beliefs really true?” “How would my life change if I letgo of this belief?” Notice how such pauses foster shifts in your thinking and feeling when you are experiencing a challenge, impasse, or even fatigue.

Selah

Selah is a Hebrew word that is used extensively in the Bible, particularly in the Psalms, which is often interpreted as “stop and listen.” A national organization, Selah Freedom, is dedicated to ending sex trafficking and bring freedom to the exploited. They interpret Selah as to pause, rest, reflect. Psychologist Rollo May wrote, “Human freedom involves our capacity to pause, to choose the one response to throw our weight.”

Selah Freedom has a residential program for victims of trafficking that provides needed therapy and life coaching to help the young women overcome the damage of past trauma and find new life paths. The program offers personalized educational plans, job placement, trauma therapy (including equine therapy), education in life skills, medical and legal assistance, and holistic restorative care.

meditationI have the honor of facilitating iRest Yoga Nidra meditation programs at Selah Freedom’s Chicago residential facility. During iRest, the women, mostly in their late teens and twenties, set aside their dark past and whatever has gone on in their day. They lie down on blankets and pillows and slip into deep relaxation and even dreamless sleep as I guide them in mindfulness practices aimed at helping them feel safe. The practice teaches them to welcome emotions and self-limiting beliefs, which ultimately lose their potency. This clears the way to uncover their wholeness and worthiness.

Pausing: make it a habit

You may not have a staff of coaches and therapists focused on helping you achieve your life goals, but you can do much of this work on your own by finding your own way to pause.

Pausing provides space to discover your deepest desires. When you do this regularly and intentionally, those desires become a motivating force, like an inner compass reminding you to stay on your path and sort out what’s right for you and what’s not…not this, not that, YES this!

Lily padsGetting in the habit of taking regular pauses can help you recharge and become more connected to life. What you do for yourself, you do for others. What you do for others, you do for yourself.

Your most healing pauses may be simply resting and being. You might start by taking a deep breath, expanding the whole rib cage and belly, then resting and letting go. Use this simple acronym as a reminder: TAP RIBTake a Pause, Rest in Being.

I would like to leave you with a few words from a poem by William Stafford titled “You Reading This, Be Ready”:…carry into evening all that you want from this day. The interval you spent reading or hearing this, keep it for life.”

I hope you regularly take pause to note what you wish to carry forward in this day and in your life.

texting

How to Build Resilience

Why is it that some people languish when facing adversities in life while others bounce back and flourish? It’s a question of resilience—the capacity to respond to pressures and tragedies quickly, adaptively, and effectively. This isn’t a trait that some people were born with while the rest of us missed out. The capacity for resilience is mostly established during the first three years of life. This capacity is rooted in learned patterns of behavior. The good news is that even if you did not learn resilience early in life, you can still acquire it. Continue reading

lifespan

Whole and Complete as You Are

Not long ago, I read that our average lifespan is 30,000 days. How many days have you already used up and how many might you have left?

Life is so precious. Each day is a blessing that holds a responsibility to express your special gifts into the world. What would your days be like if you weren’t bogged down by the past, reacting emotionally in the present, or anxious about the future? What if you could feel really at home and at peace in your skin, be in tune with the deepest desire for your life and express your best self in the world?Continue reading

Joy of Being in Movement

wordart nl

Rediscover the joy, freedom and spontaneity you were born with

Presented by Jacqui Neurauter
Sunday, June 17, 2012
10 am – 4:00 pm

~ A day of playful, free spirited movement ~

  • Let go and release the child within
  • Rediscover the Real You
  • Elevate your healing life force
  • Integrate and move with this force
  • Experience deep relaxation
  • Restore a natural state of wholeness, harmony and freedom
    that can flow into every aspect of your life.

    Let me be your guide:

    ~ Let me be your guide ~
    to living, moving and being more in sync with your true self.

    –Jacqui Neurauter

    Who is this for?:
    Anyone who wants to live with more joy and harmony in their lives. Come with the willingness to let go and allow the child within be your guide helping you rediscover the Real You.

    Location: Radiant Health, Hoffman Estates, IL –
    (Conveniently located near Barrington Road and I–90.)

    Cost: $75 for early registration by June 8/$85 after (PayPal, credit card or check. If you wish to pay by check please contact Jacqui below)
    to register
    Our workshop consists of:

    Music, guided imagery, props and guided movement provide the foundation for individual and group processes that include listening and feeling, movement and relaxation, introspection and self-inquiry, journaling and group sharing.

    We create a nurturing space of non-judgment inviting you to engage to your own capacity and interpretation in expressing your body, feelings, and expanding awareness.  A segment of deep relaxation will be included after lunch. Bring a light lunch.

    Facilitator: Jacqui Neurauter is a Holistic Coach and Integrative Restoration, iRest meditation instructor. She is on the adjunct faculty of Harper College and writes the Living in Synch column for Yoga Chicago, along with her own e-newsletter/blog. A former dancer with the Near East Heritage Dance Theatre for 20 years, she has led many movement based workshops over the years. Her passion is helping people to live, move and be in synch with their true self.

    For more information contact Jacqui at 847-359-6391
    Jacqui@HarmoniousPathways.com

    Registration is on Meetup.com

    to register

    (PayPal/ credit card – To pay by check contact Jacqui above)

    ~ Space is limited. Sign up early ~

    IRS + OM: Rewiring for Positive Change

    IRS omOur New Year’s resolutions of starting over and embarking on a healthier, wiser path often tend to fade when we discover how difficult it is to change our behaviors. Yet we do have the ability to rewire our circuitry—our patterns of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors—by engaging IRS’s positive change agents (Intention, Repetition, and Self-compassion) and linking them to the powering force of OM (One-pointed Mind). Let’s explore this.

    Outmoded wiring
    We are born with powerful patterns in our brain circuitry—mental, emotional, neural, physical, and behavioral. From those patterns, along with our early conditioning, habits are formed. Once negative habits or misperceived patterns of anger or mistrust are firmly established, we have almost no choice but to continually repeat them.

    neuroplasticity1The good news is that science has discovered that the brain is malleable and can be rewired through neuroplasticity. It has the ability to regenerate and change and is capable of creating both flexible and rigid behaviors, good and bad. We can release outmoded beliefs and behaviors, change the way we think, respond and act in our lives to help us manifest goals, and thrive with more joy and fulfillment.

    OM: One-pointed Mind
    Our minds by nature are many-pointed. Our senses, thoughts, feelings, and emotions are working constantly, pulling our attention in many directions. A focused mind helps us connect to our True Self or Higher Power to regenerate and create new neural pathways. This process of rewiring enables us to move beyond a perpetual treadmill existence. Meditation and yoga (including chanting OM) are systems that help us train the mind, allowing us to make this deep connection.

    I:  Intention paves the way
    graphic burstA powerful first step in the rewiring process of our neural pathways is in creating and holding intentions. You may have the desire to lose weight, find a new job or a new relationship, or grow your business. However, for long-lasting change, it’s important not only to put a specific target on each intention—such as ten pounds or increasing sales by 30%—but to delve inside for a deeper desire and motivation for your life to support your intentions.

    Sit quietly and inquire into your True Self for your deepest desire – what you truly value, care about and love. Feel your desire as though it’s already happening. The mind knows no past or future, only the present.

    Keep your mind one-pointed by starting each day or each endeavor aimed at achieving your goal tuned in to your heartfelt intention. Self-discipline then becomes a natural outpouring of this process as the desire to achieve your intention creates its own neural pathway.

    R: Repetition creates the link
    Repetition, such as with affirmations, is an important key for creating new patterns in the brain and furthering the intention process. Mohammed Ali constantly recited rhyming couplets as though they were mantras, and then topped it off with a self-affirming, “I am the greatest!”

    Clinical psychologist and integrative yoga therapist Bo Forbes found that Repetition with only 15–30 minutes of twice-weekly breathing exercises and restorative yoga, her clients became more emotionally settled. In her book, Yoga for Emotional Balance: Simple Practice to Relieve Anxiety and Depression Forbes writes that the nervous system, the body, and the practicing of patterns are primary agents of neuroplasticity. Calming the body through a body-centered practice, such as yoga, chi, or meditation creates a foundation for the creation of new patterns.

    S: Self-compassion fortifies
    lotus pink smallAchieving long-lasting change requires more than self-discipline. It’s important not to beat yourself up after a few unsuccessful tries at changing habits or behaviors. You need to repeat and repeat and repeat a thought or act in order for the pathways to coalesce, allowing for the positive change to begin.

    When self-criticism, self-judgment, or self-doubt does surface, understand that being hard on yourself makes you less resilient after setbacks and more vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

    Practicing self-compassion helps to strengthen and fortify your desire. It’s about caring and wanting the best for yourself, wanting to heal, be happy, healthy, and fulfilled. Using your one-pointed mind along with consistent repetition of your deepest desire helps your brain to create new pathways for positive, long-lasting change.

    Let the awaking energy of spring’s new life invigorate you as you practice Intention, Repetition, and Self-compassion with a One-pointed Mind to help produce positive change.

    ~ Read full article from this adaptation in March/April 2011 Yoga Chicago