I am reading this book called Just One Thing by Rick Hanson. The subtitle is developing a buddha brain one simple practice at a time. As you might guess from that, this book is an easy ready packed full of juicy stuff. Every week, I read a new chapter and try to practice whatever the focus of the chapter is for the week. The idea being that maybe I’ll incorporate all 52 new and wonderful habits by the end of a year.
I have to say, this may be the only idea like this that I’ve ever followed through on. I’m on week 26 and a little shocked by that.
This week’s skill is pause.
I will admit, when I read the title, I thought for sure the skill would be slowing down and learning to take a break. After all, slowness and awareness is a guiding principle in any meditation or Buddhist course I’ve taken or book I’ve ever read.
Alas, the chapter was more about pausing in the moment. Rick Hanson starts the chapter by saying that when he works with children in his practice (as a psychologist) he asks them if they’d like to ride a bike with no brakes. As you might imagine, most kids say no, as even they are aware that a bike with no breaks means it is either boringly slow or dangerously out of control.
Even kids get it.
And yet, how often do I forget?
How often do you forget to put on the brakes in your life?
How often are we reacting in a quick moment rather than pausing to choose the right response? We behave this way so often that reactionary behavior is often the norm. I’ve seen it cause more fights between spouses, siblings, and parents and children that I know I’m not the only one who suffers from it.
Food and money are always the sticking points for me when it comes to reactionary behavior. I’ve been working toward healing old, old wounds around both of these things for years. No matter how well I start to feel though, I always have to check myself for reactionary behavior. I used to think this habit was the most daunting to break. But now that pause is one of my little weekly skills it feels more manageable.
Pause before eating the cookie to check in and see if what I really want is the cookie. Pause before clicking add to cart for the next new book on a topic I’ve read 47 books about. Will this book really take away my feelings of inadequacy or will it just be one more book in an overpriced pile? Pause before speaking when my husband or children or colleague or friend challenges me. Am I really angry with them or is there old stuff popping up that I need to address before responding reasonably? Hint: it’s almost always the second one.
Perhaps in the pause I will find the peace and calm necessary to make the decisions and choose the behaviors that harm everyone the least. In pausing, we give ourselves time to be our most grounded selves. Good things come when we are grounded.
So simple, right?
When will you pause this week? How will your life change when you do?