The gift of a sacred space

Deb BergeronThis post was written by a wonderful woman by the name of Deb Bergeron. Four years ago Deb started a non-profit organization called 100+ Women Who Care Southern Maine. Today, its 361 members+ have raised $150,000+ for 17+ southern Maine charities.

Deb is also a life coach and runs a business called Ocean of Possibilities. When I read her piece on sacred spaces in her newsletter it resonated with me. I asked her if I could share it on Catching Health and she said yes. Thank you, Deb!

Woman relaxing at beach/Adobe

By Deb Bergeron

It’s officially the holiday season and while it may be called the most wonderful time of the year, it can sometimes feel impossible to find time to breathe. Would it be possible to approach the season in a different way? Can you imagine moving into the season as a more grounded and present version of yourself?

One of the biggest gifts we can give ourselves is to take what Tara Brach, author of Radical Acceptance, calls the “sacred pause.

Cultivating a sacred pause amidst the busyness of everyday life can help us manage the stress that comes with this season. When we pause from our busyness, it allows us to step off the daily treadmill and find some spaciousness in the day to make more conscious choices. The sacred pause gives us a chance to come home to our hearts again, back to the present moment.

What would happen if we intentionally stopped our incessant mental chatter and physical activity – and for a minute or two – simply paused and noticed our inner experience?

The good news is that you can bring the sacred pause into everyday moments without adding any more demands on your already too-packed schedule.

Seven easy ways to integrate the sacred pause into your day

Try one of these each day and see what you notice.

  1. Three-breath-break. When you become aware that you’ve been focusing on an activity for an extended period or are transitioning between activities, take a three-breath-break. Pause and take three deep breaths, intentionally breathing into the belly. Allow the abdomen to expand. With each exhalation, relax and release any places of tightness or tension in the body while being present.
  2. Red stoplight pause. When driving use the occasion of each red stoplight as an opportunity to pause. Depending on the situation, you can use the moment to breathe more deeply and release places of tension or contraction in the body.
  3. Pause before reacting. Give yourself a few seconds before reacting. Sense your breath, your posture, and what is asking for attention from within.
  4. Download a “mindfulness bell” to your computer that rings at regular intervals. When the bell sounds, take your hands from the keyboard, bring your attention to bodily sensations, and take three or four full breaths to come home.
  5. Commit to the sacred “no.” This is a growth area for so many of us, including myself. When we begin to practice that sacred pause in our lives, we build a greater capacity to make choices that are aligned with our life’s values and intentions. In order to stay connected to what matters most during the holidays, it’s important to establish boundaries and say “no” when we need to protect our internal needs.
  6. Mindful listening. While listening and maintaining awareness in conversation, bring your attention to the ‘felt sense’ in your body that accompanies and responds to the conversation. Let go of any tightness in the body and bring a responsive openness to what the other is saying.
  7. Capture the jewels of the day. Write down the things you are grateful for and pause after each one to quietly say “thank you” and experience the feelings of appreciation.

Remember — the next time you find yourself caught up in the chaos of daily life, take a moment for a sacred pause. As Jon Kabat-Zinn says, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

May you be filled with peace, joy, and sacred pauses this holiday season.

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Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.