Massage & Bodywork

JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2020

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THE SUPERPOWER OF THE PURPOSEFUL PAUSE In her book Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach writes, "Through the sacred art of pausing, we develop the capacity to stop hiding, to stop running away from our own experience. We begin to trust in our natural intelligence, in our naturally wise heart, in our capacity to open to what arises." 1 Likewise, scientific research demonstrates the value of taking a "purposeful pause." Dan Harris, investigative journalist and author of 10% Happier, notes purposeful pausing provides a superpower of sorts that helps restore one's inner calm. Furthermore, Harris points to multiple studies that show intentionally pausing improves our ability to cope with stress, prevent depression, and generate the energy and freshness of thought to move forward. 2 It's a way to begin again, all day long, to give space to the fluctuating currents of the mind, body, and heart. RECLAIMING AND SAVORING The magic of in-between moments holds a powerful, yet often neglected, elixir of rejuvenation. Our level and quality of focused attention is bolstered by intentionally taking breaks. If left unchecked, our minds run wild and often ramp up unnecessary tension during "in-between moments." Notice what you usually do when you have to wait for anything or anybody. What are you thinking, feeling, or doing while you wait for your coffee, or wait for the light to turn green, or wait for a client to step out of the room? We invite you to co-opt these in-between moments and flip the script by making a new choice. MINI-POWER PAUSES Next time you have to wait for someone or something, consider renewing your parasympathetic nervous system by exploring one of these mini-power pauses: • Take three deep belly breaths. Follow the sensations that flow from watching yourself breathe in and out three times—which, by the way, is shown to short-circuit the fight-or-flight response. • Or perhaps you want to recommit to an uplifting affirmation as a touchstone to activating your in-the- moment presence. One of our favorites is to internally declare "and that's over" as we complete our session. • Sometimes a stretching pause is the elegant respite of choice. For a few moments, notice an area that is feeling tight, hard, or painful. Send Ta k e 5 a n d t r y A B M P F i v e - M i n u t e M u s c l e s a t w w w. a b m p . c o m / f i v e - m i n u t e - m u s c l e s . 23 Watch "Power Pause Practices" your attention into that space as you discover a new way to move, breathe into, or stretch into that sensation—and notice how tension melts away. THE PRODUCTIVITY OF DOING NOTHING If you're curious, you can amplify the benefits of the purposeful pause by adding a few extra minutes. New York Times bestselling author Daniel H. Pink enumerates the benefits of perfectly timed power pauses in his book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. 3 Science reveals that when we interrupt our midday routine with a purposeful pause, we upregulate and recalibrate our circadian rhythms, optimize our sleep cycles, increase our vigor, and reduce stress and emotional exhaustion. RESETTING WITH 10-MINUTE POWER PAUSES Try one or more of the following exercises as you generate a multitude of mind-refreshing, body-softening, and heart-clearing benefits: • Set your timer and get curious as you explore your unique flavor of a 10-minute Power Pause. This might look like lying down in a comfy restorative yoga pose or sitting in a meditative position with a guided YouTube visualization. Or, maybe you allow your eyes, ears, and nose to attune to a space in nature that tickles your senses, encourages you to daydream, and unplugs you from technology, work, and effort. • Sometimes our mind wanders or we fall asleep during our power pauses, and instead of getting mad at ourselves, we allow whatever wants to happen, to happen. We call this our Pausing Allowance, where we reimagine the inevitable distractions (or napping) that happen during power pauses as becoming investments in our self-care bank account. • If you love coffee like Heath loves coffee, you might like modifying your power pauses with the art of the Nappuccino. Science demonstrates that caffeine takes approximately 10–20 minutes to enter the bloodstream, so to optimize your reactivation, have a cup of joe just prior to taking your power pause. By the way, studies also assert that the physiologically optimal amount of nap time is at least 10 minutes but no longer than 20. In fact, you'll probably be groggier if you nap longer than 20 minutes. 4

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