“Be here now. Be someplace later. Is that so complicated?” – David M. Bader
When I was growing up in the 80s and 90s, I was an active kid. I played league softball in the summer. I played volleyball in middle school. Took dance lessons. Played in the marching band. I was a cheerleader. A girl scout. I also played outside - a lot. My friends and I played in the woods - for HOURS, we rode bikes, played at the park, played pretend. Lots and lots of pretend. In the summertime, we ran around outside all day....until the street lights came on. Sunburns, bug bites, and dirt. We had a club that we made up. We once wrote a book of short stories. We went sledding in the winter.
Raise your hand if this was you. So, how did kids who grew up like that end up as adults who can't stop? From elementary school, we are put into activities by well-meaning parents that are supposed to build teamwork, work ethic, build skills, develop talent, and keep us out of trouble. This is all well and good, but something has changed in our culture in the last couple of generations. Today there seems to be a never-ending compulsion to be busy. If your calendar isn't full, you aren't....worthy. There are high school students who don't take lunch because their schedules are filled all day. What are we doing?
It's no wonder that so many people say things to me such as:
"I can't meditate, my mind is too busy"
"I wish I could meditate, but my days are just crazy"
"I tried 'press pause' but it makes me feel so lazy. I could be doing something else"
Oof. This is precisely the problem. We (meaning, Americans) have been conditioned our whole lives to think, behave, and show up in the world as busy. We've been taught that our level of busyness is tantamount to our self-worth. According to the CDC, a whopping 41% of U.S. adults reported anxiety in 2021 alone. Anxiety is experienced in the physical body (somatically) from a mental state of worry about a perceived future threat. When left chronically untreated, it can lead to a host of chronic illnesses from high blood pressure to heart disease and even infertility.
ENOUGH. It's time to stop this nonsense and normalize pausing. Urgency is an illusion. A sense of urgency is our body and mind screaming at us to slow the EFF down. Pressing pause is not stopping completely. To stop completely is to no longer be alive. Pausing is a momentary and intentional break. It is as necessary as breathing. It's a requirement of the human condition in order to be more fully...human. We must release the operant conditioning that pausing equates to laziness, that taking a break will result in failure. In fact, the opposite is true. Pressing pause with intention is an outrageously effective way to become more productive, more creative, more abundant, and more awake with possibility. it is the simple act of tuning in to the self and asking, "How am I? How am I really?" Pausing is a radical act of self-love that diffuses chaos and welcomes peace. In fact, it's the only practice that does. Just for today, give yourself the gift of wintering - even for a moment. To paraphrase Katherine May....when everything is paused, anything is possible. That is the gift of winter.
Resources To Help: Press Pause with Joelle: https://vimeo.com/787241700
2-minute body scan meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lssbXfWU_c
5-minute meditation for anxiety: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqGTphrGHi4
Reference Vahratian A, Blumberg SJ, Terlizzi EP, Schiller JS. Symptoms of Anxiety or Depressive Disorder and Use of Mental Health Care Among Adults During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, August 2020–February 2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2021;70:490–494. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm7013e2external icon.