One of my favorite stories on the power of mindful pause was shared by a friend and coach, Jason. He read about an elite tennis coach working with top players, those who were winning Wimbledon and the US Open. The coach was focused on helping a group of players that were one level down, trying to determine how to help them to the top. He watched hours of videos of the champions and compared their games with those of his B team. He struggled to find any difference in their athletic abilities on the court and then it hit him. He began to watch what was going on with each player between sets. That was the difference.

The top players were using those brief moments as they sat on the sideline chair with hundreds or thousands of people watching. They had discovered a way to be calm, to come back to their center no matter what had just happened in the last set, and to begin their next play at their best.

This is the power of pause. Mindfulness is about being aware of self and of what we are doing moment to moment. It is the ability to create space in the most pressured situations. Taking a short pause can be very challenging in our fast-paced world. Yet these pauses are absolutely needed to get back in touch with ourselves, to think, and to make our next decision.

We are programmed as “doers” continuously searching for new ways to get more done in less time. The problem with continuous doing is the quality of our work begins to suffer and we get stuck in patterns of reacting. Pausing between emails, calls, or projects can lead to higher consciousness of our actions and our work. We have the unique ability as humans, due to neuroplasticity, to rewire our brains and move from reacting to responding.

One of the exercises we use to build awareness in my resiliency sessions is taking time to look for the spaces in your day. Those moments when you are moving from one thing to the next. Start there.

For the next week, try to notice all of your stops and starts during the day. Use a piece of paper and simply put a checkmark down each time you move from one thing to the next. 

If you do this each day you will see patterns. Stop and notice where those spaces exist and begin using those moments for a deep breath between tasks, to relax your eyes and reflect before you send an email, or to stand and stretch before you start the next conference call. These small steps can help you rewire daily work habits into practices that serve your wellbeing and work more effectively.

If you like this, please share. We are all learning and together we can be better.