Day 2: 5 Steps to the Pause Habit

Sally-Anne, 02.04.20

Welcome to Day 2 of 21 Days on the Mountain, our video series where I teach you how to develop the Power of Pause

Developing any habit takes practice, and so today we’ll be looking at the five principles of developing the Pause Habit: Why, Start Small, Concentrate, Be Consistent and Enjoy It! 

What I’ve found helpful about using the Pause Habit is that it gives me an opportunity to stop and think – to create a space between a stimulus and how I choose to respond to it, rather than immediately react in a state of stress or overwhelm. 

This skill is the heart of Mindful Command and our Evolving Leadership programme, and supports all its core principles; Balanced Awareness, Clear Purpose, Fearless Compassion and Inner Stability

So join me in the video below for Day 2 on the Mountain, and enjoy a gentle pause in your day. 

Video Transcript

Hello and welcome to Day Two of 21 Days On The Mountain. A chance for us to pause together and breathe. 

So today I’m at the bottom of the meadow that I was talking to you from yesterday.  I’m standing about a meter from a river, a small river that flows into the river Giffre that flows through our valley. And the snow is melting as the temperatures get warmer and the river is filling up and bubbling and flowing more loudly each day. And the mountains that I pointed out to you that were behind me yesterday, I’m now looking at right here. The sky is clear and I can see the tops of them quite clearly and they’re still actually covered in snow, so there’s a lot of snow still to melt and the air temperature you can see is still quite cool. 

But right now, in this moment, let’s pause, and let me remind you of the three steps that I offered to you yesterday as the way of approaching our moment of pause.

So number one was to press an internal pause button somewhere, and for me it’s about here (base of sternum). The second step is to focus on that space. So looking at you now I’m also bringing my awareness to this space here at the base of my sternum, the solar plexus. And the third step almost simultaneously is to breathe consciously in and out and allow our breath to arrive in this place. And as it arrives to allow a sense of expanding, and as the breath leaves that place, to allow a sense of release, of letting go. So we’ll come to that in a moment. We’ll practise it together like we did yesterday for about a minute or two. 

But for the moment, I just want to talk to you about how we get and maintain a habit – let’s say the pause habit. Well there are lots of amazing gurus online or in different books that you can read and all kinds of amazing tips for how to learn new habits. 

But what I’ve found is that it comes down to five principles. So the first principle in my experience of learning a new habit and maintaining it is getting really clear on why. Because if we don’t get why we’re learning a new habit then we won’t be motivated to even start probably, and much less to maintain it. 

So first of all get really clear on why it helps to pause. And the reason I gave you    yesterday was that what’s helpful about pausing is that it gives us space to think. It gives us space to think between a stimulus and how we react to it, or how we might react to it if we don’t pause to think. 

So pausing is helpful because it creates space to think, to look more widely at what’s going on, to tune in perhaps to what we’re noticing about what’s happening inside us. What might be being triggered? To notice what the person who’s speaking to us or the people around us, what their perspective might be. What they might need.

And also to look at the wider context: to take a broader view of what’s going on right now before we respond, so that we respond with all of those things in mind and give a response that might be the most helpful that we can give if we choose to. So the first principle of learning a new habit, is why

The second is to start small. So don’t go from not pausing at all to wanting to pause for everything that you possibly do in life. Let’s be realistic here. If you’ve never really stopped to pause then start small. Pause just once today, and see what it feels like and if you enjoy it. If you like it then do some more, do it as much as you want to if you’re enjoying it. But don’t set yourself too big a target. Don’t set yourself up if you like, to fail or – to succeed. Both can be equally scary for all of us. That’s another subject. For the moment, the second principle is start small. Pause for one breath, then for two breaths, then for three breaths and gradually build up. 

The third principle is concentrate. So for that one minute or two or three or more that you choose to pause, give it your full attention. Concentrate as best you possibly can for the full duration of that pause. 

The fourth principle is consistency. So that’s where the practice comes in. So think about the why, start small, concentrate and then do that every day at least once a day for these 21 days. Practice consistently in that way.

And the fifth principle, which I’ve already alluded to actually, is enjoy it. Because if you don’t enjoy it, as we all know the chances of us keeping at it are pretty slim. Also when we enjoy something it’s like when kids enjoy what they’re doing, they learn so much better. And we as adults are no different. So make sure you’re enjoying it, find something within it that feels joyful and helpful and useful and have some fun in the practice. 

So those are my five principles that I offer you as a way of getting a habit and maintaining it. 

And now let’s practice. So I’m going to close my eyes to help me concentrate. Feel free to close your eyes or keep your eyes open, whichever you prefer. And let’s pause. Let’s press an internal pause button somewhere here or wherever feels accessible to you and bring your awareness to that place. If that’s hard, focus on something outside you that might be very solid and tangible that helps you to maintain focus for about a minute. And breathe. Without forcing your breath, consciously allow your breath to enter your nostrils or your mouth, flow into your body and land in about this place. And as it lands, allow a sense of expansion, and as your breath leaves your body, allow a sense of release. So breathing in, expanding, creating space, breathing out, releasing and letting go. So please I invite you to take about a minute or two to pause with me in silence now.  


When you’re ready, on your next breath, gently open your eyes. 

I hope that this moment of pause is enjoyable enough for you to want to continue. And I hope that those five principles of: Why, Start Small, Concentrate, Be Consistent and Enjoy It, will help you learn this new habit of pausing. 

Thank you for your time today. Please join me again tomorrow for Day 3 of 21 Days On The Mountain. Thank you.

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