Find Your Pause

By Katie, 5:57 am

I don’t know about you, but there are usually several times throughout my day when I just want to make a “T” shape with my hands and yell “TIME OUT!”


I want the world to stop spinning…just for as long as it takes me to give my goalie a pep talk, find a sub for my fatigued offender, and set up for the next play. Then, GAME ON!

I’m guessing you know the feeling: your thoughts won’t stop turning, or your to-do list refuses to get shorter, or you feel like you’re living every day on autopilot. You’re desperate to feel re-grouped, re-centered, and re-ready to tackle life head-on.

You could plan an impromptu trip to Hawaii. But if that’s not in the cards, here’s a simpler alternative: ask yourself, “Where’s My Pause?”

I got this idea from Thomas Roberts, author of The Mindfulness Workbook. In it he writes a very compelling description of watching his newborn daughter as she slept in her crib. As he observed her breathing, so simply and peacefully, he noticed that after each exhale there was a pause before the next inhale began. And it occurred to him that – through our natural, relaxed breathing – we actually have built-in pauses or rest periods.

There are tons of breathing exercises and meditations that you can do to help bring peace and calm to the stresses of everyday life, and I do many of them regularly. But this is perhaps the simplest of all: just stopping, even for a few seconds, to notice the brief, still pause at the end of each inhale-exhale cycle. Whenever I do this I feel an instant sense of calm; I’m brought out of autopilot and back into the present moment. I’m reminded that life is bigger than whatever issues I’m immediately facing.

So the next time you feel that bubbling urge to throw your hands in the air and yell “TIME OUT!”…


…perhaps try asking yourself the simple question, “Where’s my pause?”

Have you ever tried doing some kind of breathing exercise to give yourself a break, or to help you remain calm and focused? Does it work for you?

30 Responses to “Find Your Pause”

  1. Oh yes, I know that feeling, too! Great advice to just stop and breathe. I found myself experimenting with my breathing as I read that, actually! Will remember for today – I am sure I am bound to want to yell “Time out!” at work today, haha.

  2. Lauren says:

    I think there are so many times when I feel like the world is in control of me. Yes, stopping to breath is really helpful. It reminds me that I need to take a second to regroup my thoughts and clear my mind in order to get through. Great post as always girl!

  3. Tina says:

    I never noticed that! And breath is so calming when you focus on it. It reminds me that I have a life that I need to honor and cherish instead of rushing through it.

  4. Breathing is really one of the most powerful tools we have in calming ourselves down. I’d love to say “Oh yes, whenever I feel anxious I take some yoga breaths and BOOM! All better!” Yet in all honesty… I sometimes forget to breath when I am at my worst.

    Ironically, a couple years ago I had a VERY difficult class so I would often stop the whole show and make them all close their eyes and we’d practice breathing together. I’m sure it was unique to see 20 6 year olds breathing in and out with their eyes closed but it kept us all alive and sane that year hahahaha!

  5. The timing of this post was perfect for me because I’m actually teaching mindfulness at the hospital today, and yet am personally feeling a little chaotic. Good reminder to focus on the most simple thing we have (and the thing that is always with us!) – our breath.

  6. Sarah says:

    I always forget that focusing on breathing can often help reduce stress and bring you into the present. My mind is typically racing so I like having something to focus on ie my breath. Last night, I took Body Flow (yay Les Mills) and at the end there is a meditation period and the instructor read this meditation about focusing on the pauses between our breaths. And last night I couldn’t quite grasp the pause but your post helped to me stop and take a few minutes to try to find that pause. Which is great to keep from getting overwhelmed at work.

    Love your blog!!

    • Katie says:

      Thanks, Sarah! And you have me totally intrigued about Body Flow…sounds like something I would enjoy!

  7. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Katie McLaughlin and Ashley Solomon, Katie McLaughlin. Katie McLaughlin said: Find Your Pause [...]

  8. I get those days also….getting better at it.

  9. Jessica says:

    I never used to give myself that time to just breathe because in the moments when I have needed the most I was “far too busy.” Now I stop – and take a few minutes to just close my eyes, sit up straight and take deep breaths – it totally helps!

    Great post!

  10. homecookedem says:

    This is great! I don’t really have those overwhelmed moments during the summer, but I more than make up for it during the school year!!!!!! All day long I barely have time to breathe, especially at the beginning of the school year which is just around the corner, so thanks for this reminder to pause for a second to catch myself!! :)

  11. i haven’t tried that even though i’ve heard about it! what do you do when you’re at work and need to take that time? i feel like the only place i could go is the girls’ room…but even then it’s hard not to be distracted!

    • Katie says:

      I do it right at my desk! It really only takes a few seconds to take those deep breaths and notice that pause in between. No one has any idea! :)

  12. I do my stretching in the evening instead of directly after I go for a run or bike ride. This actually helps me relax and wind down for the evening… I think it helps me focus on something other than whatever happened during the day, etc. My breathing tends to be a little deeper during stretching too! :)

  13. [...] 30, 2010 by poiseinparma Today, Katie at Health for the Whole Self encouraged her readers to Find Your Pause by “just stopping, even for a few seconds, to notice the brief, still pause at the end of each [...]

  14. Meg says:

    I definitely know what you mean. Sometimes, you just think, when am I going to get a break? I learned to breath like that in a kind of emergency way. Long story short, but I got food poisoning and my stomach pain was so bad I was hyperventilating and my face and hands were getting numb. One of the nurses taught me to breath in while counting to ten, count to five and then breathe out counting to ten and then count to five. With all the technology in our world, sometimes we forget that the simple things really have the biggest effect!

  15. Shawnee says:

    To help with anxiety I will do deep breathing. It helps some times.

  16. Holly says:

    What a GREAT reminder….one that I really needed!

    I’ve heard this from so many people, yet I don’t ever really think to practice it myself. A perfect example – I have HORRIBLE road rage. :-) I let myself get upset by these (crazy) drivers, and it puts me in a bad mood for a little bit. Next time, I’m going to try breathing. Can’t hurt, right???

    • Katie says:

      I’m actually a really impatient driver too, but I never thought to take my own advice while I’m in the car. Such a great point! Let’s both give it a try! :)

    • Thomas says:

      Yes, indeed, try this breathing practice while driving. You do not need to close your eyes. When you feel yourself getting upset, simply remind yourself “where is my pause?” and let your awareness soften in that place. You will find that your driving will, with practice, become less aggressive.

  17. lisasfoods says:

    I find that running really helps me to stay in the moment, to relieve my stress, and to focus on my breathing. There aren’t too many other times in my life when I feel relaxed, which may seem odd because it takes work to go for a run.

  18. Whenever I’m feeling really stressed (like when I’m studying), I like to take a few moments just to step out on my balcony and breathe in some fresh air. It always calms me down and helps me to refocus.

  19. I have to remind myself to take deep breaths when I feel the stress coming on. There’s so much that goes on physiologically when you do that, and it’s all goooooooooooood :)

  20. I’m not good at this type of technique for reducing stress. I tend to just wig out with too much stress. I did, however, use a lot of breathing techniques when I was pregnant. Apparantly, being prego makes me claustrophobic and it makes me have panic attacks. Not so much fun, but finding a “pause” really helped! It’s a good thing, too, because that baby wasn’t going anywhere…

  21. I have had sooo many moments I wanted to yell “Time out!” in this week. Actually, I’ve yelled “Time out!” and a three year old yelled back, “NO!”. Such is my life.

    Awesome post! :)

  22. Priyanka says:

    That time out sign reminds me of my advisor. He does that sign so many times during our meeting.

    I think breathing definitely helps, I love music too so it reboots my system!

  23. Run Sarah says:

    I find when I am super stressed or trying to do a billion thing at once, just stopping, breathing deeply and collecting my thoughts can make a world of difference.

  24. Thomas says:

    Hi Katie.

    Thank you so much for the mention of the breathing practice and my book on your blog!

    This breathing practice is one of my very favorites.

    This breathing exercise you highlighted is what I call a “take along.” It does not require any special pose, place, or posture. You can do it while waiting in line at the grocery store or in traffic, while in a meeting, try it even when having a disagreement with someone. You will see what a difference it makes in how you respond!

    Keep up the great work you are doing Katie! It is of great benefit to many.

    • Katie says:

      Thank you for checking out my post! I am absolutely honored that you visited my blog.

Leave a Reply

Panorama Theme by Themocracy