Tag Archive | Creating Space

Natural Pauses

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Appreciate natural pauses.”

What are natural pauses?

Pausing is an essential (and subtle) life skill. By pausing, you’re creating space for awareness and connecting with yourself, for love and play and gratitude and beauty, for reflection and accessing your resources. You can think of it as a micro-meditation.

Think of an impulse, for instance. Much of the time, they are invisible. An impulse arises and we immediately act on it. Sometimes it works for us, other times against us. Pausing after the impulse arises creates a space between stimulus and response to ask yourself:

Do I want to act on this impulse?

Every impulse is an opportunity to practice the skill of pausing.

Natural pauses are pauses that arise naturally when engaged in an activity or when transitioning between activities.

Let’s say you’re browsing the Internet and a page takes too long to load. By default, we tend to think of it as an annoyance. Instead, learn to see and appreciate the opportunity, and make the most of it.

Breathe, connect with yourself, smile, and, for a moment, contemplate all the gifts and miracles that you’re taking for granted: technological wonders like the Internet and your computer and language, the biological wonders that are your BodyMind and all life forms, the beautiful interconnectedness of the world, the cosmic ocean and the universe of the very small, etc. Take a moment to find your way back to wonder.

By creating pauses and taking advantage of natural pauses, you’re creating space to take in the beauty of the world.

The Pause

Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor Frankl)


Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space only if you create it. This is a practice. Brian Johnson calls it Response-ability. I call it Creating Space.”

“How do you create space?”

“There’s a quote I love by Josh Waitzkin:

The small things are the big things.

It’s such a beautiful and critical principle, and most people think they can wait around for the big moments to turn it on. But if you don’t cultivate “turning it on” as a way of life in the little moments – and there are hundreds of times more little moments than big – then there’s no chance in the big moments.

This quote expresses a key aspect of the practice – and of Mastery more generally:

Practice in the little moments of life. Practice when you don’t need it so that you are prepared when you do need it.

You create space by pausing. I call this aspect of the practice, The Pause. What this means is creating brief micro-pauses throughout the day. Think of them as metaphoric ‘break-points’.

To practice is to remember to practice. The more often you do it, the more often you’ll remember to do it. It’s a positive feedback loop.

Surround yourself with reminders.

Put written reminders in various places in your environment.

Turn things in the environment and experiences into reminders. (Anchoring)

For instance, a great thing to anchor pausing to is the transitional space/time between activities.”

“What do you fill the pauses with?”

“Start by practicing only The Pause.

Pause, breathe, and smile.

Stay with it as long as you need until you deeply internalize it. Think of it as the seed. Once the seed has been planted, you can grow it into the next stage of the practice.”

Contrasting 5

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I keep this impulse in check?”

“You’re faced with a choice. The choice between doing (action) and not-doing (non-action). 

Ask yourself:

What Value does not-doing represent?
What Identity does not-doing represent?

Make it perfectly clear in your mind.

Then contrast doing and not-doing against one another, and ask yourself:

Which do I value more?

“Hard to do it in the moment.”

“You need to create space [<link; medium read] for it by slowing down, or pausing.

And you need to first do it backwards – reflecting at your choice after the fact. Once clarity is gained, this makes it easier to do it forwards at the next choice-point.”

On keeping impulses in check

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I keep this impulse in check?”

“First of all, create space [<link; medium length] for reflection by temporarily distancing yourself from the situation. Ideally, physically change location, or go for a walk.

Secondly, ask the meta-question:

Can I ask a better question?

The question you ask influences the kinds of answers you explore.

Compare:

How can I keep this impulse in check?
How can I make keeping this impulse in check EFFORTLESS?

The two questions take you on very different paths.”

“How can I make it effortless?”

Remember WHY you want to keep it in check. 

If you have a compelling enough reason, you have your answer.

If don’t have a compelling reason, CREATE ONE. This means gaining clarity on who you want to be and what you want from life, and creating a deeply compelling vision for your life, one that will serve as your guide and as backdrop for your every action.”

Beautiful Models: Creating Space

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“What one thing would you say most influences the quality of our lives?”

Attention.

Attention is a process which happens automatically according to certain internal rules. Certain things draw our attention, other things do not.

Attention is also a process which we can control.”

“A bit like breathing?”

“In a way. However, unlike breathing, if we don’t control our attention, it controls us.

Directing attention is one of the fundamental (and most important) mechanisms of Thinking.

Not being in control of your attention is like a trance. While in the trance, you’re like a puppet to stimuli in the environment. Depending on the environment and the stimuli, that can be a good or a bad thing. 

Being in control means breaking the trance, gaining control of your attention. That’s also how you can enrich the quality of your experience.”

“How do you gain control?”

“I like to metaphorically think of it as ‘Creating Space‘. That is, Creating Space in the flow of experience for engaging Thinking in order to direct attention.

You can Create Space in two ways: by slowing down, or pausing.

Creating Space is a meta-practice, and an enabler for numerous other practices.”