“A pause is a suspension of activity, a time of temporary disengagement when we are no longer moving toward any goal. . . . The pause can occur in the midst of almost any activity and can last for an instant, for hours or for seasons of our life. . . . We may pause in the midst of meditation to let go of thoughts and reawaken our attention to the breath. We may pause by stepping out of daily life to go on a retreat or to spend time in nature or to take a sabbatical. . . . You might try it now: Stop reading and sit there, doing “no thing,” and simply notice what you are experiencing.” – Tara Brach
Instead of choosing resolutions, I’ve elected a word of the year. By settling on a single theme, I stay on track and excavate how one word carves out depth in my life. In 2012, I chose compassion, in 2013, gratitude and in 2014, laughter. Last year, I wrote extensively about my choice, quiet, which highlighted my need to step back, take refuge in solitude, in order to cultivate a contented life. By understanding my necessity to retreat, I paid attention to how this word took shape in my day-to-day activities.
What did I learn? I abhor large crowds of people because I don’t prefer to “network”; instead I favor the company of a small intimate group of friends who love to exchange ideas on what matters the most to them. My preferred night out is a family dinner at home followed by reading or watching a movie in the comforts of our living room. I enjoy the quiet of running early in the morning and waking up before my family to sip in the morning energy. I examined my conversations over the course of the year and I learned it is better to stay quiet and let someone else do the talking. Active listening is a rare commodity and I watched how many times I jumped into conversations, when in reality, I failed to add anything of substance. Of course, quiet, will still remain a process. I’ve not given up my addiction to technology, iPhones and computer included. I sacrifice quiet sometimes for a greater good, whether it is to support my daughter or other roles which may require stepping into a bevy full of noise. It has also brought an awareness of how irritable I become when I don’t have hours I can call mine – when my time is hijacked, it pierces my marrow.
This excavation over the last year helped revealed my word for 2016. Pause. There is so much power in those five letters. A part of me believes this word has always lingered in the background, like an extra on a movie set, waiting until I was ready to make it an omniscient narrator in my life. For the majority of my life, when circumstances or relationships go awry, I jump to the worst conclusion. I forget to pause and instead list all the potential ugly consequences which might unravel in the coming hours, days or months. I usually fail to let the events unfold and jump to conclusions and assumptions. Every single time I fall into this sticky web, I try to remember, Don Ruiz’s advice in The Four Agreements, “Don’t make assumptions.” Yet, as much as this advice speaks to me on an intellectual level, I haven’t taken the care to let it percolate or practice it in a way which will fulfill my life. But in 2016, I hope to embrace pause, giving myself permission to take a few seconds, minutes, hours, days or months, before hurling head first into a negative way of thinking.
In conjunction with this word, I’ve decided to consciously include meditation as a daily practice. I’ve talked at length about my inability to embrace stillness and my reluctance to tackle this behavior. I am starting small. Pausing requires intense awareness and patience. My plan is to meditate for at least 2 minutes a day. Maybe at the end of the year I will work my way to more minutes of pausing, but for now, it is a beginning.
I will post my musings on my word of the year throughout the upcoming months. 2016. Let the pause begin.
What is your word of the year?
The winner of my book giveaway: Dana Schwartz. Thanks everyone for the recommendations!
Image: Pause 272/365 by Dennis Skley via Flickr
What a great word and, in essence, practice. Pausing is crucial and so to take the deliberate, conscious steps to make it happen despite the nonstop, 24/7 ethos of our culture, I think that is precisely the kind of thing we need to embrace more in our daily lives. You’ve inspired me to do the same. I hope your year is filled with many quiet pauses, Rudri.
I’d like my thoughts to be slow and deliberate because I usually hurl head first into the wrong conclusions. Pause seemed like the best choice. I look forward to our conversations on our respective word of the year choices.
I feel more calm just reading this post! Looking forward to you adventure in PAUSE this year 🙂
Thanks, Windy. A combination of pausing and meditation, I hope, will allow this calm to trickle into all areas of my life.
I’m blown away by your choice, Rudri! I’m going to have to think this through because pause comes to me with negative connotations of pausing a TV show I’m watching and a pause in working toward a goal because of illness, raising children, other life responsibilities. WOW. You’ve “blown my mind.” hahaha, that is probably a good thing!!! I do understand what you’re saying about it and why it’s a good thing, too!
I love hearing different perspectives on the same word choice. I understand how pause, based on your explanation, tilts differently than my definition. My hope is that pausing will enrich my life… we will see what the year offers. xo
Maybe this will be the year I actually meditate. I hope so. I have an app that reminds you to do it! I hope I don’t just get annoyed with that.
Pause is a wonderful choice.
I’ve tried every year (in one form or another to meditate). Let’s hope this year I truly find my rhythm. . .
What’s the name of your app, Tamara? I need all the help I can get!
That’s an amazing word — I love how you have described the need for pause in your life. My word for this year is Invest. I want to intentionally focus my time, energy, and money on things that really matter.
Happy New Year! So lovely to see your name in my space. I love the word, invest, because it has such a broad range of implications for so many areas of one’s life. Learning where you want to invest your time will lead you to make choices that ultimately (I hope) will offer greater contentment.
Rudri, This is a most beautiful word to choose. There is much power in a pause. Looking forward to hearing about your experience with these quiet moments.
Thanks, Susan. I know it will help me focus more on reflection, rather than hastily moving into an action or thinking that is counterproductive.
Thank you for your nudge, Rudri! Actually, a companion term that immediately came to mind was that of
“Focus”! In prayer, relationships and making my daily to do lists, my attention will be one of “focus” and I hope it will bring greater calm and quiet to my monkey – minded activity. Thank you for the reflection…Trish
Focus is a good word to center your life. It offers more purposeful thinking and a defined way of making certain decisions. I look forward to hearing your thoughts regarding focus as 2016 unfolds.
I just had the wind knocked out of me seeing your photo: “Pause”. I must go read now but, wow, that word really hits home for me right now.
Oh, I love this. It resonates with me so much. I wish you peace in the coming year as you remember to pause when you need to. <3
I couldn’t believe my search for a picture on Flickr led me to this perfect photograph. I love it when the universe agrees with me on my personal goals.
Happy New Year! I look forward to reading your words in 2016.
I love this word. It’s really powerful. And meditation – yes! That is a perfect companion to Pause. I had a really hard time embracing meditation but something clicked last year. I’m still not 100% consistent but I do try to make the time for it, usually 10 min in the morning and it makes a huge difference. Wishing you all the best this year!
I hope 2016 is the year meditation is more than a word for me. There is such undeniable proof that it leads to a more fulfilled and contented life – I am grateful it clicked for you and hope the same happens with me. Thanks for your encouragement.
I tried coming up with a word this year. But I failed. 🙁 I think mostly in 2016, I have some quotes and words that I hope to guide me through. Words like patience, love, and change. Quotes like “It’s never too late to become who you really are.” I love the word “pause” and think your explanation of what it means to you, hits home for me. I wish you lots of blessings and love in this new year!
Sometimes words find you. For me, pause certainly kept coming up, over and over, in different contexts. I needed to listen.
Adopting quotes is also a powerful way to embrace the new year. Do what works!
Happy New Year! I look forward to reading your words in 2016.
Happy new year! I hope to also pause and be more thoughtful in 2016. I often make impulsive decisions and react to quickly. Your post is a great reminder that being more thoughtful and deliberative is something u can aspire to in the new year.
Wishing you much luck as you pause in the new year, Amy. We can commiserate on how embracing this word leads to lasting epiphanies. Happy New Year!