Permission to Pause
Are you struggling with motivation lately?
I’ve been avoiding writing this post for the past couple of weeks. Confession time: this isn’t my only recent motivation-fail. Other tasks, emails, and projects that aren’t particularly difficult or time consuming have been piling up on my to-do list, but I can’t seem to make myself focus long enough to complete them.
When I realized the pattern, my first instinct was to cheerlead myself out of it like I usually do. I’m a glass-half-full person and I hate to be a downer in an already rough time (enough already, 2020!). But it’s probably better to come out and say it: I’m in a bit of a slump. It’s different, draggy feeling than the procrastination I’ve known all too well at various phases of my life.
Have you experienced a COVID slump, too?
If so, I encourage you to own it. It feels better just admitting it, granting yourself permission and compassion for the experience you're having. This is a weird time, far beyond what any of us has ever experienced. Is it any wonder just getting through the day is taking the oomph out of us?
During my morning meditation practice last week I came across this lovely and helpful mantra from Kelley Carboni-Woods’ book Manifest: 30 days of Intentional Mantras.
“I will take a pause.
…..Speeding through each moment is the social norm. Cramming it with activity is expected. To our detriment we use every minute we can but rarely create space for what we really need. Each of us has an underutilized power to create a pause. We question whether we deserve it. We exalt being busy ahead of it. The pause lets us catch our breath, hone our mind and guide our steps. The pause makes space for the abiding practice of love and peace over everything else. The pause reminds us to be responsible for our energy and rescues us from reactionary patterns. Reclaim your time.”
Take a moment to let those wise words soak in. Really. Full breath in, full breath out.
Are you pushing yourself to meet self-imposed deadlines that are unnecessarily aggressive? Is there something that doesn’t absolutely have to be done right now that you could gift yourself a longer timeline on? If so, give yourself permission to pause.
On the yoga mat, the practice of pausing might mean inserting a rest pose between active poses and lingering there for a while. When practicing pranayama, insert a brief pause between inhale and exhale to feel what it's like to be in that limbo state without needing to do anything. Some days, it means choosing to only practice one long-held restorative pose instead of trying to motivate to do something more vigorous and active. The pause can appear many different ways on the mat, and the more you practice in a physical way, the easier it will be for you to access the mental and emotional slow down during the rest of your day.
The other day a friend guiltily shared that she was grateful to have had summer travel plans cancelled this year, appreciative of the forced slower pace of life. While I still hear the echoes of a shaming internal voice that tells me I should be more productive, these days I more often shush it and ask myself what really matters right now. I'd like to think that one of our collective COVID silver linings will be a renewed appreciation of slowing down and giving ourselves permission to do a little less.