Bears do it…bees do it…and sometimes we humans need to do it too. (And, no – not that it.) I’m talking about hibernating. Taking some time to turn inward and cocoon. Something I’ve been doing most of the winter – at times with great equanimity and at other times with mild pangs of guilt. Yes, it’s been cold. Frigid in fact. And that has certainly contributed to my physical retreat, but my cocooning has also been psychic/spiritual. A response, I believe, to the exhaustion and quasi-disillusionment that emerged after my book launch in October. The questions of so what and now what gently escorted me into my cocoon.
And the question greater emerged: Can we give ourselves permission to be as we are and where we are? For I truly believe that if we can’t cocoon, we can’t bloom.
A client of mine in the midst of a career transition shared her version of this tension when she sheepishly asked if it was okay for her to take a few weeks off before diving into a full-out job search. Was she being lazy? Could she go to her family’s cabin in the Poconos and just catch up on reading and snowshoeing? And as soon as she finished uttering her question, she knew the answer. Yes – yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and there are times when a pause is the most brilliant and necessary and essential action we can take.
In our do-tweet-fix culture we skip over the nutrition that can come from, and only from, stillness. We are addicted to the illusion of deep change occurring in ever decreasing increments – one-minute manager, six-minute abs – desperate to escape the anticipated confusion and anxiety that comes from waiting…from not knowing. But the truth is, it is only from risking that same unknowing that deep and true self-knowledge can emerge.
One of my favorite books exploring the power and purpose of pausing is When the Heart Waits by Sue Monk Kidd. In it she asks,
“What would happen if I could learn the spiritual art of cocooning? Might I discover a stirring of the soul that invites God and a new recreation of life? Would the posture of the cocoon allow me a way to shed old, embedded patterns of living and move into a more genuine humanity where the authentic self breaks through?”
You don’t have to experience a full hibernation or go to the Bahamas for a month to take advantage of it.
Here are some ways you can build a pause into your own life:
- Spend an hour in silence once a week
- Spend five minutes in silence once a day
- Resist the urge to “figure it out” and allow yourself to “live it out” instead – valuing the process and the journey as much as the destination
- Learn to love the questions of your life
So dear reader, tell me:
How might you practice powerful pausing?
Take care of your special self, Cheryl
Photo Credit: James Richard Fry