As a professional actor, I knew some of the most powerful moments on stage occurred during intentional silences and pauses. Silence can allow tension to build or dissipate. They also allow the audience to absorb what’s going on or to predict what might happen next.
Intentional silences and pauses in real life can provide the same kind of release. They are necessary for renewal of body, mind, and spirit.
Last week I presented to a conference for Minnesota jail programmers. As you can imagine, their jobs can be very stressful, dealing with inmates who themselves are under the stress of incarceration.
On the evaluation form, one attendee said that her most valuable take-away was that doing what she loved to do away from work was a stress-reducer.
Another attendee said the ability to get away from it all was like “squeezing a sponge out” of all the stress and negativity. He made a commitment to schedule a one-week family vacation by the end of June.
I love the sponge image, because it is a great reminder that we can’t always be on the absorbing end of life. Periodically we need to squeeze out old experiences to be ready for the new.
This gentleman recognized that by so doing he could return to his own key values of being a patient person who sought out relationships rather than running away from them.
We all need a mixture of short regular pauses through meditation, rest, reflection, and recreation to deal with daily stress. My 11th commandment is “Thou shalt take at least five measly minutes a day for yourself.”
And we also need longer breaks for deeper renewal, especially if we are caretakers of others.
As you approach the change in season in whichever hemisphere you live in, I encourage you to commit to regular pauses, time for renewal and reflection, as well as a longer vacation.
May we all pursue our paths, remembering to make time to “squeeze the sponge”,